When it happened
Saturday, November 12, 2011
How we got engaged
I’ve decided to extend this story to well before what happened November 12, 2011. If you just want to read what happened then, scroll down past the picture of the lighthouse.
Europe – May 2010
Jonelle and I were able to go on a trip to Europe in May 2010 through George Fox University’s Juniors Abroad class. We were both in the class that went from Rome to Berlin. While this trip provided a great catalyst for the deepening of our friendship as well as many wonderful memories, it was also the first place I proposed to Jonelle, kind of, sort of. The proposal was a mock enactment of scenarios being discussed while we and a couple of our friends were trying to find a French Castle, but we’re still rather amused by this.
One of the days we were in Geneva we had a good portion of the day set aside for whatever we wanted to do. There were plenty of options and suggestions, but no set plan. I really wanted to see a castle and Jonelle was with me in this endeavor. We looked on a map and found a castle in France (the closest, seemingly easiest to get to) and set out to find it with Katie and Steven. The trip took two bus rides (each about 40 minutes long), a lot of confused wandering (trying to figure out where we were and where we were going), and a handful of conversations born out of our mutual exhaustion.
From one such conversation, the idea of wedding planning had somehow come up. The discussion revolved mostly around not wanting to plan and prepare for a wedding alone. So I picked up the opportunity to verbally act out what that would be like:
“Jonelle, will you marry me? Here you can do all of this, I’m going to go over there and relax.”
Jonelle agreed that that wasn’t what she would want and we all joked about that some more. Later on, when nothing more was coming from my mock proposal, Jonelle decided to continue in the mocking and was playing hurt and upset that I turned down my own proposal and rejected her. (Little did we know that would be amended in a year and a half).
Oregon – March 2011
At the end of the fall semester I told Jonelle I liked her and would like to pursue a deeper relationship. From that point we danced around trying to figure out what to do, if we should go forward with this, what God’s will was, what our families thought, et cetera ad nauseam. It wasn’t until the beginning of February that we actually started our relationship, over the phone. A month later I was able to fly up (from San Diego) and visit Jonelle for a week.
My first Saturday there we went on our first date. We drove out to the Oregon Coast, to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. We explored that for a little while and then went over to the nearby beach. We brought along sourdough bread, red grapes, and Muenster cheese and ate lunch together. We walked along the beach for a while and watched the sunset that evening. It was a really nice time for the two of us. This also set the standard for many of our future adventures, as we would get similar food for our adventures, or go to other beaches and lighthouses for our times together. (This would later become my basis for how I was going to propose).
San Diego – July 2011
At this point I knew I was going to propose to Jonelle, someday. I didn’t know when, or how things were going to work, but I knew it would happen somehow. I had been looking at engagement rings for a little while and had finally decided on one I liked and that I hoped would be perfect for her, that she would really like it. I ordered the ring and had it shipped to my home in San Diego, so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a time to get it later and keep it secret then. Around this time I was planning on flying up to be in Washington indefinitely and was unsure of how a lot of things would play out in my life. I brought the ring with me and kept it hidden for the next four and a half months.
Port Angeles – November 2011
By this point I had been living in Port Angeles for a few months, slowly getting more involved and integrated with the community. Much of life was (and still is) up in the air, with many (if not all) plans being made on a daily, maybe weekly, basis. Considering this way of life, I was converging on a time to propose to Jonelle, I just didn’t know exactly when or how that would take place. I knew I wanted to propose by a lighthouse, as Jonelle loves lighthouses, and I figured I would try to replicate our first date, somewhat. Jonelle and I started talking of going off together again, to just get away for a bit, and go to a beach. I threw in the suggestion of visiting another lighthouse, for whenever this outing would come about. We agreed that would be a fun idea and went on with life, waiting to find a time this would work.
Later I contacted my parents to update them on my intentions and ask their advice. They were both very excited at the prospect of me proposing to Jonelle. After that I went to talk to Jonelle’s father. I had talked with him a few times before about various subjects, mostly relating to my relationship with Jonelle. I already had support from Jonelle’s parents in the continuation of my relationship with Jonelle, but I hadn’t really formally, or plainly, asked for their blessing, and I wanted to do that. As it worked out, I established a meeting time with Jonelle’s dad, mostly sparked by Jonelle and my distress in not knowing what to do about a possible work situation she has in Kodiak, Alaska. We talked for a while and I received his blessing.
From that point all I needed to do was figure out a time and place to propose. The weekend of the 12th, I was going to be visiting a couple friends from college (David and Devin). The weekend after that Jonelle would be attending a sleepover and the weekend after that we would be down in San Diego to visit my family for Thanksgiving. I figured I would either propose right before Thanksgiving or while we were in San Diego, so we could easily and quickly celebrate with both our families.
Now, as plans change rapidly, Devin couldn’t meet with David and I that weekend. David was already planning to come down to San Diego to visit me and it didn’t make sense to really spend the gas, time and effort to try to visit each other, without Devin, especially as we would see each other soon anyway. I also had an opportunity with Staples come up, and I was scheduled to take an assessment test Saturday morning. So we scratched the plan to hang out, and my weekend was opened.
Jonelle and I thus planned to go out to breakfast at IHOP, then go to Staples for my test, and then go to the Point Wilson lighthouse in the Fort Worden state park. (The following picture is of the lighthouse I proposed to Jonelle by).
Fort Worden – November 12, 2011
Once we got to Fort Worden we drove around a little, looking for a place to park. The forecast for the day was rain in the afternoon, and the temperature outside was rather cold. I was hoping to get some time just wandering about, and then the proposal, in before the rain started. We finally just picked a place to park and filled out the parking application. The first time we got outside the difference between the warmth in the car and the cold outside became very apparent. We retreated back to the car for a little and prepared for the cold.
At first we went to explore the old battery that was directly in front of us, just wandering around, sharing stories. We walked along and talked and just enjoyed each others company for a while. Eventually we started walking down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse was closed, but we could still walk around it. We continued to share stories and laugh together as we got to the lighthouse. We walked around a couple times, while I tried to find a place that was generally sheltered from the wind. We settled at the steps (just to the left of the bench in the picture) and stood there for a while, watching the ocean and sky change.
As we stood there I realized a rather strange sensation in trying to find the ability to actually propose. I found it strange, as I knew Jonelle well. We could talk about anything, and we had talked about proposal, engagement and marriage before. I couldn’t figure out why I was so nervous. I did eventually get up the nerve to go forward with this plan. As our conversation had mostly died down I turned to Jonelle and told her I had a question for her. She said, “okay”, and I preceded to kneel on one knee. There was a brief moment when I could see the realization and anticipation in her eyes as I looked up, right before I said anything, and the joy swelling up in her. I asked her to marry me.
“Jonelle Leann Fodge, will you marry me?”
She said, “Yes!”, in a soft, contented sigh of relief and excitement, and held me close. After a few moments I reached over for my backpack. I found the ring and placed it on her finger. We held each other for a while longer, just enjoying the excitement of this event. Eventually we started heading back to the car, elated and excited, right as the rain started to sprinkle down. We got to the car and just sat, beaming with joy.
From there we moved around to a couple different spots, trying to find a place to be mostly alone, away from the other people passing by. I felt such a release, excitement and somewhat relief, during this time. Jonelle was lost for words and kept re-realizing what had just taken place. When I told her she was now my fiancée she got really excited.
Later, as the excitement mellowed out a little, we went to the visitor center, mostly to find restrooms. In the visitor center we found a little figurine of the lighthouse, and I decided that would be a nice little keepsake to remember our proposal by. We got that, and talked with the store keeper, who suggested trails for us to walk. We set out for that, but decided to eat lunch first. By the time we finished lunch we were ready to head back home to just relax and tell our families and friends.
We got back to Jonelle’s house a couple hours before dinner. Jonelle put the ring away and we waited until dinnertime to tell the rest of her family. At one point during dinner I told the family that Jonelle and I had an announcement to make, and immediately they all knew and sat eagerly awaiting the actual announcement. I told them we were engaged and Jonelle showed them the ring on her finger. There were tears of joy, laughing, and much excitement. After dinner Jonelle and I secluded ourselves and proceeded to call up family and send messages out to start proclaiming our engagement. We spent the rest of the evening, before saying goodnight, talking with family and friends sharing the excitement of this next step in our lives.