How They Asked
We tricked Sharla into thinking that we were having an engagement photoshoot for our friend’s Rohan and Navi. In actuality, I had planned to propose to her at the LondonHouse where itwould only take place on July 26, 2020 at 12PM-1PM. The window of opportunity was so smalland given how anemic everyone is with being on time, I have to tell you how important it wasthat everyone was punctual for this moment. This also added to the stress of making surenothing fell apart because if one piece was missing, or late, the perfect moment was gone.
Despite that, we had stayed up until 1AM the night before and I woke up at 6AM not feelingrested, and she was knocked out for the count. I was a literal wreck the whole day. Navi had letSharla know to be at their apartment at 10AM, but she hadn’t woken up yet and it was 9AM. I started turning the lights on, boiling water so the tea kettle would be whistling, and even was desperate enough to throw Maxwell, our dog, onto her to lick her eyes open. She eventually gotup, but was taking her time putting on her eyelashes, and I am sitting near her pretending tostudy as to not be overly obvious that today was going to be the day that I changed our lives. Miraculously, we were able to only be 30 minutes late, and I had dropped her off at Rohan and Navi’s by 10:30AM. I sped off to Lakeshore Drive and luckily caught all the green lights, andwas able to get ready and be at the LondonHouse at 11:40AM. 20 minutes was all I had torehearse what was about to happen. The time of asking her to prom was drawing near, and Iquickly got everyone on the same page of what I had envisioned this moment to go.
One thing I didn’t envision was the heat. It was 95 degrees at high noon, in the sun, I have a blazer on, and I’m not sure if the spotty vision I am seeing is the anxiety, or the severe vasodilation and decreased cerebral blood flow to my brain.12:03PM passes, and I see the door open where she would be coming out of. A pillar separatedus, but gave me a moment to get in position. As she circled to the other end of the pillar, there Iwas holding the sign, “Sharla Mercado, Will you go to prom with me?”. I knew she would instantly be confused, which I requested the photographer get that shot, because I wanted to capture the evolution of confusion, to “ what is happening?”, to “I am about to get proposed to”. She takes off her surgical mask and the musicians begin to sing our song, Allen Stone’s GiveYou Blue. I knew in my speech to her that there was a moment where I knew I was going to cry, but asshe paced up to me, I just saw that she was the most beautiful girl in the world. I saw an angelictear come down her eye, and then someone dropped off like 20 cut onions near me and Istarted to cry. I told her everything about how much I loved her (which she said that I could havejust said was “Watermelons watermelons, will you marry me?”) and she said YES!!!!! We slow dance further to our song and our host had poured us champagne to toast to the day. Thewhole engagement went perfectly planned.
I was working in the ICU when I had received a text notification from my good friend Navi, whorecently got engaged. She wrote about how she wanted to take engagement photos with herfamily in Canada, but they were unable because of COVID19. She said, although she cannothave her family from Canada be with them, she would love it if we, her Chicago family, taketheir engagement photos together. She stated that she wanted the girls to wear all white. Ireplied with a heartfelt, “I’d be honored and of course!.” Little did I know the intricate web of lies my friends had begun to spin. A few days before “Navi’ and Rohan’s engagement photoshoot”, my friend Brooke invited Navi and I to get our nails done. I was so busy with preparations for my new job, I had forgottenabout our nail appointment. I texted Brooke that I could not make it, but she sneakily insisted Igo and changed the appointment to a later time, so that I could.
On the day of the photoshoot, Navi was expecting me to come to her place to get ready at 10-10:30AM. I woke up at 9AM and took my time putting individual eyelashes on for thephotoshoot. I had decided on a simple makeup look for the day, because I didn’t want to standout in Navi’s photos. I asked Chris if he could give me and Brooke a ride to Navi’s place instead of Uber, which he quickly jumped up and said sure and subtly hurried me to the car. When we arrived at Navi and Rohan’s, my plan was to quickly finish getting ready so that I couldhelp Navi and Brooke. I proceeded to pin my hair up in a bun, because I was running out of timeand wanted to help the other girls get ready. Navi’s fiancé, Rohan, had kept offering me champagne while Brooke convinced me to put my hair down and style it. Rohan kept pacing upand down the apartment proclaiming, “20 minutes left!” I ditched the giant bow that came withmy white dress because I did not want it to take away from Navis photos. However, at the lastminute Navi stated, “No, I love the bow you have to wear it in my photos. It totally complimentsmy dress!” Brooke then quickly tied a bow for me and we did a quick champagne cheers andheaded to LondonHouse.
When we arrived at LondonHouse, Rohan introduced each of us very quickly to the host, whosename was Manny, then we proceeded into the elevator. Once we reached the correct floor, Manny guided us towards the door and insisted that I go through first. When I went through thedoor I could hear music playing and the clicking of a camera shutter. I first noticed that Brooks ‘husband, Chris Bowman, was NOT in the appropriate attire.My first instinct was to head toward Bowman to investigate, but he looked over to where Chris was standing. My eyes followed and found my boyfriend Chris holding up a giant sign. I wassuper confused and headed in his direction. I wasn’t wearing my glasses so initially could notread the script from where I was standing. As I headed towards him I realized the sign had myname on it and “Will you go to prom with me?”. This also confused me further. I then lookedaround and saw the rose petals on the floor and heard the lyrics to “Give You Blue” by AllenStone which is a special song for Chris and I. It was at this moment I realized what was happening and a tear rolled down my eye as a flashback of all the sneaky things my friends had said and done to prepare me for not Navi and Rohan’s photos, but MY ENGAGEMENT!
The thought of my amazing boyfriend and incredibly loyal and dedicated friends putting all of this together brought streams of tears of joy to my face. When Chris saw this he also began to cry. Then we both started crying more! The lyrics stopped and music softly played while Chris beganto summarize our journey together. Honestly, I was still in shock and many things Chris said became a blur, but the one thing I doremember him saying before he got down on one knee was: “This place was the place our lives should have first collided (I had cancelled on what wassupposed to be our first date.), but this is the place we can say our lives started to becomeone… Will you change our fate and will you marry me?” Of course I said “Yes!”. He slid the ring on my finger and right on cue the singers began to sing again and we slowly danced on the beautiful Cupola to “Give You Blue” by Allen Stone.