The sun couldn’t set because it never came out that day. Overcast, 30% chance of rain, a broken promise of a pre-summer tan. But after working for four days, anytime outside, especially if Jeff was with me, and furthermore, enjoying it, was welcome.
Mondays can be rough. But after napping on the beach and running through a few groups of sea birds, scattering them into the salty Florida air, this Monday didn’t deserve scorn. Sometimes loners such as ourselves like to be among the common, sociable society, but we also enjoy outings in solitude. No one but us two on the beach, with three surfers battling the short swells in the distance.
There are some important, yet insignificant, details that made this day real: the bright blue jellyfish washed up on the shore; the yellow ochre seawood pushing against your thighs as you wade deeper into the cold waters of the Atlantic; the slow stomps of a gopher tortoise crossing the road to the wrong side of the earth; odd, small, polite exchanges with the parking lot attendant in the lot across the cathedral; the unwrapping thread of a cheap beach umbrella that threatens to flip over with every small gust…
Today bore no indication of peculiarity. St. Augustine had always had a special place in our hearts with our love of history, and today was the last day we would enjoy it in a long while due to our move to South Florida in two weeks. Both our lives have had trials over the past year or so, especially mine with my dad. This was a nice break from the monotony of our days and something fun to do before having to head back to Gainesville and pack up our lives (again).
It was getting late, and the sky had been warning us all day that it could only hold back for so long. We got back to the car after walking around the tourist district, but Jeff insisted we go see the fort, Castillo de San Marcos, before we left for home.
We parked close to the old fort, with most people having abandoned any hope of a salvageable evening outside. There were a few scattered families and groups of young people, but most were headed towards their cars. We leaned against the small hills as we climbed upwards until we reached the sea wall. Using careful balance due to a dress and cheap footwear, I climbed atop the structure. The rugged cochina provided some treading to prevent me from slipping into the gray waters a foot to my right. Jeff joined soon after and we walked until we reach the Eastern most point of the wall that jutted into the ocean. We sat and made jokes, pointed out the “pirate ship” in the distance, discussed how bearable or unbearable it would be to live on the sea, and exchanged sweet words and affections. It was beginning to get dark, so I suggested we leave. With some difficulty, we finally escaped the perils of the wall, and headed towards the car.
Jeff paused and suggested one more walk around the fort. It was then that I began suspecting why he would want to do that. And then it hit me. So I agreed and lead us back to that exact spot, and sat down. This is what I wanted, this is where I wanted it to happen, away from the world, just us over the eternity of the sea, the great weight of nature over our heads, calming my over-analyzing mind and making me feel small, mortal.
We talked more and he said he loved me, that he was excited to move and start our lives together. Eventually, after many moments and beginning to feel drops on my face, I suggested we head back, and stood up. As I turned, I heard “Wait, I want to give you something.”
I turned slowly to see a small lacquered mahogany box in his hand, being held in his palm, resting on his knee as he knelt before me. “Crystal,” he said as he opened the box,” Will you marry me?”
My eyes swelled with emotion, my chin trembled, and after realizing I had been quiet far longer than I wanted, I said “Yes!” and bent down to hug and kiss him. I smiled like a damn fool, and laughed. Then, “wait! I want to see the ring!”
It was beautiful! He said it was his grandmother’s. It has a round diamond in the middle, in a square setting, with two smaller diamonds flanking it in triangle settings made of platinum. It was perfect. It was vintage, it was important to him and his family, and it was being offered to me.
So now we move not as boyfriend and girlfriend of 6+ years, but as fiances. And as our chapters of college and Gainesville begin to close, the transitions of location and thought accompany that of commitment, promise, and the great adventure of making each other our own family.