Saturday the 18th of April started out like any other day. The only difference was that I’d been looking forward to that day, with careful planning and preparation, for eight long months. Naturally, I woke up beaming. The day had finally arrived.
As usual, Big Shot set off to work before 7am. The weather outside was utterly terrible- the one thing I hadn’t planned for. But nevertheless, I turned the volume up and the shower on, and danced to “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix while I lathered myself in mint body wash and coconut- scented shampoo. Today was going to be a great day, I could feel it.
I carefully applied some makeup; a big deal for me, these days. But it was a special occasion, unbeknownst, of course, to Big Shot. I gave my reflection a cheeky smile.
When he arrived home that morning I told him to get dressed nicely to go out. He’s used to my crazy spontaneous surprises, so to him, this was a standard request. Our first stop was the barber shop. He had the sides of his mane trimmed down, which he was a little annoyed about as he had been growing it out to dress as Goku from Dragon Ball Z for his birthday party a month away. Afterwards though he felt great, and I could tell. The James Dean- style cut really suited him. He was looking very sharp. And I also had the side of my head shaved, revealing my tattoo. My girls were definitely with me today.
I booked a boat ticket to the mainland and we arrived at 3:30pm. As we arrived, so did the sun! It was fate! The clouds parted and sun streamed through, just as I hopped out of the car to collect Big Shot’s first surprise from the ticket office. The picnic basket left there for us was full of carefully constructed cucumber and chicken sandwiches, fresh fruit and chocolates, and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. The secret lunch packer was so thoughtful with each of those choices, and so sneaky, too! Big Shot was astonished and kept trying to guess who could have possibly planned such a lovely surprise.
We drove to one of the nearest mountains, which just so happened to be the very place Big Shot had taken me on our very first date. I knew I had chosen the perfect spot for our picnic, as while we lolled in the sunshine and devoured our feast, a perfectly heart- shaped leaf descended from the heavens and landed directly between us.
After the picnic was packed up into the basket the three, (or two-and-a-half,) of us headed up towards the top of the mountain; the tallest volcano in our city standing proudly at almost 200 meters high. From here we stood on the edge of a vast crater, around 50 meters deep, overlooking the entire city, the island we came from, and what felt like the whole world at our feet. The sun began to descend in the sky, revealing the most striking cloud formations. My timing was on point.
“Why is that guy over there taking photos of the sky?” Asked Big Shot curiously, pointing to a hooded figure in the distance. I smiled.
“Hey, isn’t that our friend, Scratchy?” I asked. Big Shot shook his head.
“Nah, that’s what I thought too, but it’s clearly not him.”
We headed over towards this man. Indeed, it was Scratchy. We began talking for a while as the clouds rolled about in the streaky sky above us. The wind had picked up and stung the side of my freshly- shaved head with icy blows, but the view was epic, and I wasn’t about to leave. Not yet.
Eventually I asked Scratchy if he wouldn’t mind taking a picture of our family to capture this moment and our beautiful surroundings. We found the perfect place to stand; the city lain out like an unrolled scroll behind us; a map of all the places in our love story. To the North you could make out the place where I first laid eyes on Big Shot. Further up, where we spent our first summer. From here you could see the hospital where Little Shot was born, and further east the island- our first home together. The lighting was great and our timing was brilliant. Scratchy lifted his camera and my heart raced.
“Would you mind taking off his jumper for the picture?” I asked Big Shot, pulling on Little Shot’s long red sleeve.
“It’s too cold,” he protested. “Just leave it.” My heart stopped completely.
“No,” I insisted. “Take it off!” He wouldn’t, and I ended up tugging his jumper up myself.
At that moment I’m pretty sure Big Shot’s heart skipped a beat too. He pulled the jumper up to reveal four words printed on Little Shot’s t-shirt underneath.
“Will you marry Mummy?”
His jaw dropped, and he looked to me and back again about six times, flabbergasted.
“What? Really? Oh, what?!” He kept repeating, as I fetched out the ring I had kept hidden, of all places, in my bra. Taken aback, Big Shot held out his hand and nodded his head repeatedly. “Of course! Of course!” I could see him fighting the tears. The smile on his beautiful face said everything. I tried not to cry myself.
The perfect set of photos were captured at that very moment. This moment, which would change everything, which would solidify our relationship and prove to Big Shot my devotion. Immortalized on film.
After getting over the initial shock Big Shot turned to Scratchy, laughing. “So I suppose you knew about this then, did you?” Scratchy grinned- his token cheeky smile.
After a while of laughter and hugs and chatting, we decided it really was getting too cold up there, and we could see rain heading our way over the hills. Our timing really had been perfect. We said our goodbyes to Scratchy and headed down to our car. “I have one more surprise for you.” I grinned.
Before we walked in to our next port of call I told Big Shot a story.
“Remember how you’ve always wanted to go to an American- style diner? And how you’re always complaining about how nowhere ever has the old- school arcade games anymore? Well, I’ve never told you, but this place is very close to my heart. It’s a diner where my grandparents would take my mum as a child, and, when we were kids, they took us too. Well, as you know my grandparents passed away some years ago now, but in a way, I wanted them to be a part of this special day. This place is a diner which opened up over forty years ago, on Valentine’s Day. Anyway… I hope you like it.” And he did. We shared a big banana milkshake and played Streetfighter, and I told him stories of when I was a kid. It was brilliant, and the sky darkened around our little bright world, glowing under the neon lights of our little romantic diner. His dream date.
I checked the time on his phone and told him we’d better get going. “I told Mum we’d be over at her house at 6:30pm for tea.”
As we pulled into her street a look of confusion swept his face. “There sure are a lot of cars on this street tonight,” he pointed out. “Maybe one of your mum’s neighbors are having a party?”
When he pulled up in the driveway and hopped out of the car he turned to me with a look I’ve never seen before. “They’re not here for us, are they?” I didn’t reply to his question; I simply opened the front door and welcomed him inside. He took two steps into the doorway, peeked around the corner, and bolted straight out again! I had to drag him back inside, where all of his friends and family stood waiting for him, sparklers flickering in their hands. He was utterly astonished. From the lounge and all around us drifted the familiar melody of Ed Sheeran- ‘Thinking Out Loud’ – our song. Big Shot melted. Everybody cheered.
As we walked closer he could see everybody who had made the huge effort to be there for him- I’d managed to track down childhood friends, family members, and everyone who had supported us along our journey. All of the people who loved us, and who held special places in our hearts. These people had traveled hours just to be there. His mother took me in her arms and squeezed me hard. I had to try really hard not to cry. This was one of the happiest moments of my entire life.
The table was laid out with food- Peaches and Biscuits themed, because those have always been our nicknames. There was a box of blankets outside with a sign which said “For Snuggling” and there were candles all over the table outside and fairy lights strung between posts. One of my best friends had brought a gigantic bunch of gold helium balloons, and anyone who knows me knows there isn’t much I love more in this world than helium balloons. The musician continued to sing all of our favorite songs. She was amazing the way she put passion and feeling behind each tune, and later Big Shot told me he really felt as though she was singing the songs to him. I’m glad it was so special.
Our only wish was that Half Shot had been there with us. I had tried to time the date so that he would be here, but unfortunately I hadn’t taken into account the school holidays. He would have loved to have been there, I’m sure.
We stayed up late catching up with our family, dancing with fire in the back yard and roasting smores. After a tonne of dessert was consumed and almost everybody had gone home, Big Shot, his childhood friend and I stayed up drinking wine til the early hours of Sunday and reminiscing.
Big Shot squeezed my hand tight, his ring softly pushing into my fingers. He loved the design I had come up with. I had looked at so many different rings, but not a single one would suit the man I love. He needed something raw and rugged, earthly and natural. So I had taken my design to a famous New Zealand jeweler, and I had chosen the stones myself. Two big chunks of emerald and peridot- our birthstones. The two green stoned hugged each other perfectly, set in fine silver upon a thick, hammered band. I left the stones raw, rather than the traditional cut, as I wanted them “imperfectly perfect.” Just like us.
The next morning we took a picnic up to a lighthouse, where we could see views all the way over to our island. The day turned out to be just gorgeous. The sun was out and time seemed to slow down for us.
I couldn’t help but smile as I thought back to the first time I saw Big Shot. Before we even spoke, I remember my first words being, “I’m going to marry that guy one day.” And now my dreams were finally coming true.
We took our ferry back to the island as the sun was setting, hand in hand. We stopped off at church before driving home, where I was asked to stand and tell our church family what had happened that weekend. Our beautiful, perfect weekend.
It wasn’t traditional, but then, neither are we. Imperfectly perfect. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So it’s official- I’m actually going to marry the love of my life! *overly excited squeals!*