How We Met
We met at a mutual friend’s birthday celebration. By chance, we happened to sit next to each other. We began to make small talk, and found we had similar interests. Our relationship grew from there.
how they asked
Let me start by saying that my (now) fiance is not typically a romantic. He shows that he loves and cares for me, but usually not in a traditional way.
We have been together for about 4 years, and in the past 6 months to a year I had grown anxious about getting engaged (this could have been partially fueled by our recent move halfway across the country together). I would make comments and typically get sarcastic responses in return; making me believe that a proposal wasn’t something he was even considering.
Dave also insisted that I not give him any clues as to what kind of ring I liked. I would try to drop hints, but he had no interest. I had told him only that I did not want something that would get caught on things as I am a physical therapist and I want to be able to wear my ring every day.
Dave had started to act slightly suspicious but each time I had an inkling that he was going to propose, he would say or do something that would throw me off again. About 2 weeks before he did actually propose, he said that after his parents visited (in about a week) we could start putting money aside for a ring. I was ecstatic and formulated a plan to make this work and yet still be surprised. Now I knew he was not going to be proposing any time soon.
For the few months previous, Dave had been working on, and getting excited about creating a quest/role-playing game. I had never played any role-playing games, but Dave wanted to come up with a story, riddles, and puzzle-box for this quest. He had spent a lot of time putting the whole thing together. We came up with a character for me, and I was tasked with researching this type of thing in my free time. At this point, I just thought he was excited about creating his own story and puzzles. He kept saying I was going to have to come up with my own story and quest after we completed his, and I was not looking forward to that.
One night after dinner he told me that he had finished putting it all together and he wanted to start the game. I sat down, with notebook in hand, to begin an unknown quest:
Dave began, “You are sitting in a local pub, a divey place, that you frequently visit. Also, a good source of jobs from strangers. You hear strangers whispering…” Over the next hour or so we played out this story he had created. I solved a few riddles, some easier than others, and we eventually decided to stop for the night.
The next evening we picked up where we left off, and I had to solve a puzzle box (pictured). I pulled, pushed, and wiggled every piece while Dave watched with a nervous look on his face. Presumably worried I would break it. I finally got into the box to find a note that read: “Close as you may be, this is not the secret compartment that you seek.” I continued searching for another compartment/clue. After some searching, I found the second clue which read: “You have progressed farther than any before you. Only that which a dragon breathes will help you gather the information needed to continue your quest.
I grabbed a lighter, realizing that I needed fire to reveal the clue. I shined the light behind the paper, in front of the paper, over the paper and under the paper. Doing this revealed nothing to me. I then started to try to use the heat from the flame, and apparently I am not skilled in this area. I moved the flame slowly across the paper and then quickly across the paper, with no success. I finally got a few numbers to show up, and got really excited! But this excitement was quickly extinguished when I caught the paper on fire, ruining the clue. Dave took the paper and put the fire out. “So what was the clue?” I asked. “You lost, the quest is over,” Dave replied. I was devastated. He had put so much time and effort into this quest and now it was just over. I do not do well with failure, and I was tired after a long work week so I did not take this well; I began crying. Dave was confused as to why it was such a big deal but to me, it was. He had been working on this thing for a few months and it was over. Not to mention, the fact that now I would have to come up with my own quest.
Later that evening, after the frustration and emotion had worn off, Dave mentioned that we may have to complete the quest even though I had “technically” failed. He said he could not explain why, as it would ruin the story. He gave me a piece of paper with a string of numbers on it. This was of course the clue that I had ruined. Thanks to our love for the outdoors, and especially backcountry trekking, I quickly realized that the numbers were GPS coordinates.
After a bit of role-playing, I found myself holding a wooden box with a button, and small blanks screen on it. The box was closed and I was unable to open it. It was obviously locked, but with no visible locking mechanism. Although I was worried that this button was some sort of trick, I pushed it any way. The screen lit up to read, “Hi Alicia! Take me outside.” I decided that I must have to take the box to the coordinates. I looked up the coordinates on my GPS, and they were on the edge of a nearby lake. We got in the car and Dave began driving towards the location as I directed him. At some point, I looked down at the box and it read, “Distance to goal X meters” and was counting down as we drove! I was amazed by this, and could not stop trying to figure out how it was working.
As I was sitting there in the car I was trying to figure out what would be at the coordinates. Would I have to look for another clue? Would there be a key to unlock the box?
We arrived at a park, on the edge of the lake, and parked the car. It was lightly raining outside but everything was lush and green. This lake was one of the first places we visited when we arrived in this new city. The box still read several hundred meters to the destination. Dave held an umbrella over me and we began walking down the pathway. I could not stop talking about how beautiful it was. The sun was about to set and there were wildflowers all along the path. The screen on the box continued to count down, and I still did not know what I was going to find at the end.
I want to state at this point that I had absolutely no clue about what was about to happen. I have told this story multiple times, and every now and then people state how obvious it all seems. I fully believed that there was something to be excited about waiting for me down the trail, but a ring was the last thing I was expecting!
As the screen read, “Distance to goal: 10 meters” I heard and felt something move in the box I was holding. I glanced at Dave with a puzzled look, and looked back down at the box. The screen now read, “Alicia Will You Marry Me!?”
I was so shocked and surprised! I immediately looked up at Dave, totally shocked, and even let out a little laugh! I opened the box to find a beautiful ring inside (as well as all of the electronic components to make the box function). The first thing I said was, “Are you serious?” and then followed that with a “Yes!”.
That moment was breathtaking. I say that because I honestly had difficulty talking and reacting. I gave Dave a huge hug and kiss and we tried to take a few photos. Those photos are so special. The quality is poor for many reasons: the direction of the sun, the rain, shaky hands; but they are perfect because that moment was perfect.
I still cannot believe how much time and effort Dave put into this special moment in our lives. He really went above and beyond any and all expectations. He had built the wooden box mentioned. He constructed an electronic lock, GPS locator, LCD display, and all the other electronic components inside the wooden box, programed it to function for this purpose, and automatically unlock at a specific location. This blows my mind. He later told me that he had been planning everything for months. Including building the GPS system in hotel rooms when he was traveling for work so that I wouldn’t know what he was up to!