A Bean, a Bench, and a Bride (aka The Engagement Story)


"So when do you think you'll get engaged?" 
"Oh, I don't know. We haven't really talked about it. But I know for sure that it won't be this year. Maybe...oh...if I was to guess, I'd say March at the earliest, maybe April."

It was the week before Christmas, and I was sitting in the kitchen at my parents' house in Texas, talking to my mom. My thirteen-year-old sister was sitting on a stool next to me, leaning toward me with her chin resting in her palm. 

"Well, he's really cute," she said and grinned, turning to watch as my mom poured a bag of frozen corn into a pot to cook as a side for our dinner that night. "If he asked you to marry him, what would you say?" 

* * *

I asked Jordan to come with me to Illinois for Christmas sort of as a joke. I didn't really think he'd say yes. It was some time in September, and we'd just seen the movie Inception. I told him that I was going to incept the idea into his mind, and one day he'd wake up and think the thought to miss Christmas with his family and drive 26 hrs round-trip with me to Illinois was his own.

Two weeks later, he called me from work to say that he'd decided to come...as long as I spent Thanksgiving with his family. 
"What are we, like, married?" I said. 
"It's only fair," he replied. 

So I spent Thanksgiving with his family and brought some homemade cookies and a cream cheese ball, with which I won their hearts. [Read that story here.] After Thanksgiving, I started getting excited about Christmas in Illinois. We were going to leave on Thursday morning and drive as far as St. Louis. We planned to meet up with my parents, brothers, and sister on Friday morning and drive up to grandparents' house (Mom's side). Then we would spend Saturday with the Reeses, sleep over at my dad's parents' house, and head to Chicago on Saturday with my mom, dad, Daniel (brother, 22), Austin (brother, 18), Sarah (sister, 13), and my mom's parents (Nonnie and Papa). 

Everything went perfectly, and Jordan was fabulous. He went with the flow, endured more than a few jokes at the hands of my uncles, and got along wonderfully with everyone. Then, with the family celebrations behind us, we could start getting excited about our Chicago excursion. 

Sunday dawned clear and white. It was a beautiful day for walking around the city, with cool 28-degree temperatures and a few inches of snow on the ground. The nine of us dressed warmly with boots, hats, gloves, long underwear (in Jordan's case), and puffy coats. I didn't shower that morning, figuring since I was going to be walking around in the city with all my layers, it wouldn't matter what I looked like. I checked my phone before we left but decided to leave it at my grandparents' house. "I won't need to call anyone," I mumbled to myself as I pulled on my boots. 

We arrived in the city pretty early in the morning in order to maximize our time. Everyone wanted to buy a souvenir of some sort, so we stopped at every touristy shop we walked by to look at shirts and bags and coffee mugs. (You'd think we'd never been to Chicago before.) Then it was off to the bean. 

In case you don't know what the bean is, it's basically what it sounds like--a huge, steel, bean-shaped structure in the middle of downtown Chicago. People flock to it 365 days a year to take pictures and put their hand on it and walk under it. I don't know if I've personally ever seen it in the winter when it's covered in snow like this. Kinda cool.

"There it is!" I tugged on Jordan's arm and pointed. "Do you see it?"
"Uh...yeah." He looked at the ground and shuffled his feet. 
What is his deal? I thought. Why is he walking so slow? Doesn't he want to see it?
"Come on." I tugged on his arm again, trying to move him along. 

We finally reached the bean, and I immediately started taking pictures. I made Jordan stand by me and take a few. He then took my arm and started steering me away. 
"Wait!" I said, making a face at my brother. "This picture is terrible. You got more ground than bean. We need to take it again." 
I handed my camera to Austin and pulled Jordan back to our picture spot. He was reluctant to move, which I chalked up to his general dislike of pictures. After we took a few more pics, Jordan again took my arm and started steering me away. 
"What are we doing?" I asked. 
"Let's walk over here," he said.
I looked back and saw my family milling about, taking photos and laughing. "But everyone's over there." I pointed just in case he didn't understand. "We can come over here later."
"I just want to be alone with you," he said, taking my hand.
"Well, okay," I said, thinking, I can't really argue with that. We have been surrounded by my family for the past three days. 
"Fine. Let's go see the faces."

[In case you don't know, across the park just a short walk are two huge, rectangular-shaped structures. Each has a face on it, and they blink and move their lips; and in the summer, water shoots out their mouths, and all the little kids play in it. (I got the following picture off Google. The faces may or may not be somewhat creepy. I don't fully understand their purpose.)]

"Look! They're moving." I pointed at one of the faces, which had just blinked. "See?"
"No, I didn't."

"That's because you're not looking." Pause. "It just did it again! Did you see that?" I turned to look at him, only to find him staring at the ground. 
"Why aren't you looking? They're blinking! And in the summer, water shoots out of their mouths and--" 
"Sssh!" He held a finger to his lips. "I've been trying to say something for the past five minutes! Stop talking about the stupid faces!"
"Oh. Okay. Sorry."
He shuffled his feet then began to talk. "Remember when I went to Dallas with Jeff? When was that...three weeks ago?"
"I told you I drove in Jeff's car, and I said we went to drop off a guitar for his friend."
"Well, I have a confession. I did go to Dallas with Jeff, but I drove my truck. And we didn't go to drop off a guitar." Pause. "I went to talk to your dad."

At those words, my heart stopped. 


I watched in slow motion as he reached into the pocket of his green winter coat and pulled out a small white box. In one fluid movement he opened it toward me and knelt down, his left knee instantly absorbing the winter slush that covered the ground. 

"Amanda, I love you and I want to be with you, and I'm asking you to marry me."
Seeing the shock that instantly covered my face, he felt the need to quickly add, "I'm serious."

At first I thought I was going to burst into tears. My hand slowly made it's way up to cover my mouth; but it never made it, because in the very next second I knew if I didn't sit down, I was going to faint. I turned and frantically looked for a bench, but they were all covered in at least three inches of snow. 

Right then, I realized why people are always sitting in the movies. It's not to look good--it's because you need to. I swayed on my feet while staring blankly at the boy kneeling in front of me, holding out his sparkling offer of love and commitment. I couldn't focus. I couldn't breathe. And, unfortunately for Jordan, I couldn't speak. 

"Amanda. I'm asking you to marry me."
"You have to say something. Your family is watching."
I turned around just in time to see two faces pull back from behind a bush some yards away.
"They...they know about this?"
"Um..." Again I turned and looked around for a bench, as if in the last 30 seconds one had mysteriously been cleaned and dried.
"Are you freaking out?" he asked.
"Yes. I am totally freaking out!"
"So...are you going to say something?"
"Well, I, I mean...yes?"
"Are you being serious?"
"No. I mean yes! Yes!"
He stood up and held the ring out. "Well, do you want it?"
"Of course!" I said, continuing to stare blankly. 
"Are you going to take it?"
I took the box and pulled out the ring and slipped it on. 
"I hope it fits," he said, looking nervously at me. "And we can get a different setting if you don't like it."
"Are you kidding? Of course I don't want to change it! I love it. It's beautiful." I twirled the white-gold band around and around on my finger, watching as the circle-shaped diamond sparkled in the light.

We started walking back toward my family, who were standing in a tight circle, watching us walk closer. I pointed at my dad, held up my hand, and shouted, "You knew about this!"
"Knew about what?" he replied.
"This!" I waved my hand again, and that's when Daniel and Austin turned around.
"What the heck?" they shouted at the same time. 

"Is that for real?" Daniel asked. 

My mom hurried over to me, tears filling her eyes as she hugged me. My grandparents were surprised as well, hugging Jordan then me and then grabbing my hand to look at the ring. Nonnie, who has worked at a jewelry store forever, started talking about rings and settings, and I wasn't really sure what exactly she was saying. My dad took my camera out of my coat pocket and made circles, taking pictures of everything. 

I still wasn't fully comprehending what was happening and stupidly continued to repeat the same phrase over and over. "I can't believe you guys knew about this!"

Then I would look at my left hand and shout, "It's just like a movie!"

We called his parents, and I finally understood why they'd acted so strange when we left for the weekend--hugging me and whispering something in Jordan's ear that had made him blush. 

Note the smiley face in the snow just above our heads. I think it's a sign.
At one point--while my mom was trying to turn her camera on and my grandparents were talking to my brothers--I turned and saw Jordan. He was standing off to the side with a satisfied smile on his face. He reached out and pulled me close. I was still in disbelief, and I continued to be for the rest of the day. But at least I didn't need to look for a bench, because I knew he would hold me up. 

Click on the "a boy" tag for more Jordan moments. Here are a few of my favorites:

And this. This is my most favorite moment of all.

 (Thanks, Dad and Sarah, for being creepsters and hiding behind a bush to take pictures. [Apparently my grandpa thought they were taking pictures of a bird.])
Jess said...

Seriously crying right now! This is the sweetest thing EVER and I love you! Soooo happy for you! LOVE the photos!!!!! Ah!

jenn said...

reese. i know you. i see you every day (almost). but you truly come alive in your writing (especially bits about those who you love). thanks for sharing your beautiful life with us. i'm so happy for you and jordan, and i can't wait to read more about wedding planning, etc.

Janie Allyson Schneider said...

woooooo!!!!!!!!!! i accidentally sent you an email to leave a comment..haha. this is amazing!!

Unknown said...

I got teary eyed, and I don't do teary eyes. What a good boy you have. Okies are the best! And I'm glad you're going to be one (by marriage). :)

Now I get to follow your life via blog. It's going to be weird when I know things that you've never told me before and engage you in conversation on said untold topics. I look forward to it.

Caravan Sonnet said...

aww! this is such a precious story!!:) I just discovered your blog and have been having the best time reading through different posts!I finally had to post a comment and officially go follow you along! Can't wait to read more!
:) Rebecca

Anonymous said...

HOW PRECIOUS. I seriously have tears in my eyes right now! What a great story! :)

Holly Olsen said...

Aww this is so sweet! :)

Holly @ Hello Audrey Ruth said...

I love that story! How sweet and romantic. Adam would kill me if I posted our engagement story on the blog. He didn't ask my dad's permission, he just decided one morning that he wanted to get married so went to the local jeweler, bought a ring (which I love by the way), showed up at my apartment looking like a burglar at 10 pm on a Wednesday, walked into the kitchen and said "lets get married.". What a romantic :P

Rach said...

Oh my goodness, I love this! I love it because Jordan sounds as nervous as Christopher was with how long it took him to actually get the question out. And your response is hilarious! Just silence. Oh goodness, I wonder what he was thinking in those moments before you finally answered. I'm glad that we aren't the only ones with a very sweet, somewhat awkward, very non-movie moment for a proposal. ;) Also, I love that your dad and sister got that picture of the actual proposal! Precious!

Unknown said...

This is the cutest thing ever and I can't believe it's the first tile I read it. :)

Unknown said...

The first tiMe, of course. Although The First Tile would make a great title for a DIY book.