I must have written and rewritten this blogpost a hundred times.
The truth is, words defy this one.
I’ve tried to find them for close to a month.
What words could describe this whirlwind of emotion? Do I even want to find them? Are there some things in life that should remain a blur of bliss and nerves and excitement and astonishment and incredulity and happiness? Things that don’t need a play-by-play for the whole world to read?
I’m not sure.
So to stall for time, I’ll tell a story.
When I was ten years old, I saw the Dreamworks movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and it’s been my favorite movie ever since.
The premise of the movie is that a wild mustang gets captured, dragged away from his homeland, and forced to go through ordeal after ordeal as people try to tame him. Ultimately, his spirit can’t be broken and he is able to return triumphantly to his home. The mustang – Spirit – has a story that resembled my own for several years shortly after I saw the movie, but that’s a story for another day.
My two tattoos are inspired by the movie, and one of them – the horse on my ankle – is the silhouette of Spirit that’s on all the posters and soundtrack cover.
The point is, the movie has had a great deal of personal meaning to me for as long as I can remember.
And, as is the case for every person whose favorite movie means something profound, I’ve always been attached to the movie’s music. I’ve listened to the entire soundtrack obsessively for over a decade, but there’s a theme in the movie that I truly love.
The romantic one.
And on the soundtrack there’s a song that didn’t make it into the movie called Nothing I’ve Ever Known, a love song, that is set to that theme.
And to a girl who never liked the cheesy, corny, vomit-inducing love songs, this one was never quite as bad. And it just seemed to make sense.
Love is confusing. Love requires choices and sacrifices. And love, of all things, is like nothing you’ve ever known before it is felt. And then, you know it.
Does that make sense?
When I met that guy in the pictures, we knew it. We both did. The very moment we met.
And in the back of my head, for as long as we’ve been together (well okay, if we’re being totally honest, for as long as I’ve known him) everything about that song seemed to clarify things. Describe us. Make me understand.
Funny how music does that. Funny how music you hear and love as a child turns into something you hear and love even more as an adult.
But let’s skip ahead, and I’ll keep trying to find words.
In May, when we were coming up on six years of dating and two of living together, Alex told me he wanted to take me engagement ring shopping. Then, some time after we went in June, he casually made the suggestion of doing something special to celebrate our dating anniversary in August. When I suggested an overnight trip to Sedona, he uncharacteristically jumped on the opportunity and booked a hotel within a day or two.
You don’t date someone for six years and live with them for two without completely – utterly – knowing them.
I smiled every time he brought up our trip. I smiled when he asked if I wanted to do pictures at some point during the day, just because. I smiled when he bought a tripod and an attachment for his phone to use as a camera.
I frowned when he picked up his guitar the morning of the 18th to take with us and mentioned wanting to play it some time we were up Sedona.
“Where are you going to play it, though?” I asked. “Places in Sedona…they’re kinda sacred. You’re supposed to be quiet when you’re visiting them.”
He still insisted on bringing it, just because. He’d brought it to Sedona before, he argued.
“Seriously though, you can’t play it too much without being a total tourist,” I insisted.
He waved me off. He’d bring it, just in case there was an opportunity, and he missed playing the guitar, and it’d be fun.
So I shrugged as he packed it into the car.
We got lunch at the Olde Sedona Bar and Grill before driving to the Red Rock Recreation Area to just relax for a bit, although if I’m being honest neither of us were relaxed.
Alex tried to show me how to skip rocks in the creek, and I failed miserably. So we watched the dragonflies chase each other along the creek edge.
We saw dragonflies literally everywhere that day. Not just one or two scattered here and there, mind you… swarms of them.
Dragonflies, my mom always tells me, represent transformation.
We went to the Unity of Sedona next, where we walked around in the labyrinth and took in the beautiful scenery. Then we headed over to the Creative Life Center.
After checking into the hotel and grabbing a snack at Starbucks, we finally headed to my favorite spot in Sedona, the Airport Vortex.
Vortexes in Sedona are sites of sacred energy that dwells beneath the surface of the Earth. The trees and plants that grow in these sites are twisted and there really is an incredible, transformative energy that can be felt if you sit still enough.
The clouds were totally overhead as we climbed up the cliff. Alex brought his guitar, and I tried to talk him out of it the whole time, insisting it was too special a place to risk disturbing anybody.
As it turns out, we weren’t the ones who should have been worried about disturbing people.
When we got to the top of the cliff, a group of tourists were chattering loudly, taking picture after picture (eventually they waved me over and handed me four cameras) and another couple was there with a drone which they flew around the red cliffs, loudly.
Alex set up the tripod so he could, “do a cool timelapse of the clouds.”
And then the wind started up.
We huddled together on the rocks, giggling to ourselves over the loudness of the people around us, eventually taking down the tripod since the wind was so great we risked it falling off the cliff.
After fifteen or twenty minutes, the wind started getting worse (although it chased the loud tourists and drone users away) and I suggested taking off so we could go get food. Alex nodded.
“Well, the thing is,” he said, “I know I didn’t get you a card for our anniversary, but–”
“And that’s literally all we said we’d do this year, you dick.”
“I know I didn’t do that, but–” he kept saying, “but, I had a performance in mind instead.”
I blinked. He smiled as he took out his guitar.
And he began to play this. My theme.
My tears came then.
So did the rain.
The wind blew around us, making my hair fly everywhere, as the clouds, finally making up their mind, started to grow darker and splatter raindrops all over the cliff, us, and the guitar. We giggled even more as Alex gallantly kept playing, me wiping my tears away the best I could. I found out later that he’d spent two months teaching himself the melody, which made sense once he told me. After all, before we started dating, he’d taught himself my favorite song and played that for me on his guitar, too.
Then the song was over and I was crying almost as much as it was raining but I was laughing too, because the rain to me has always been such a special, life-changing sign and the wind has always blown fiercely around me when the universe was paving a new path and sending me down it.
And sure enough, after saying words that I will keep tucked into the corners of my heart forever, the man I locked eyes with at eighteen and fell for head over heels got down on one knee, pulled a box from his pocket, and said those words.
“Will you marry me?”
And as we were pelted with rain on top of the Sedona airport vortex, as the storm billowed all around us, as everything that had led us to that moment made perfect, perfect sense… I said yes.
Right now I feel just like a leaf on a breeze
Who knows where it’s blowin’
Who knows where it’s goin’
I find myself somewhere I – I never thought I’d be
Going round in circles
Thinking about you and me
How do I expalin it when I don’t know what to say
What do I do now – so much has changed
Nothing I have ever known has made me feel this way
Nothing I have ever seen has made me want to stay
but here I am ready for you
I’m turnin’, I’m fallin’ – I hear my home callin’
Hey, I’ve never felt somethin’s so strong… oh no
It’s like nothing I’ve ever known