“Good night, sweetheart,” he said. I could smell the mint and sweetness of his breath.
“Good night,” I told him, and then I said, “I don’t know how I got so lucky.”
I kept it at that. I didn’t say the rest of the sentence that popped into my head.
I don’t know how I got so lucky to have both of you. My two true loves.
Sam got us tickets to the symphony. We had been together for over a year. The two of us had just moved in to an apartment in Cambridge and adopted a pair of cats. My parents, ecstatic to have Sam back in their lives, had jokingly started to call him “son.”
That night as I was walking out of Symphony Hall in an emerald green dress, Sam in a handsome dark suit, I probably should have been reflecting on the music we’d heard or asking Sam what he thought of some of the performers.
But instead, all I could think about was how hungry I was.
“You look lost in thought,” Sam said as we walked through the streets of Boston, headed for the Green Line.
“I’m ravenous,” I said to him. “I realize we ate dinner but I just had that tiny salad and now I feel like I could eat a full meal.”
Sam laughed. “Should we stop somewhere?” he asked.
“Please,” I said. “Somewhere with french fries.”
Soon enough, I was eating a hamburger with the wrapper still half on as Sam and I walked down the street in black-tie attire. Sam was holding the rest of the bag in one hand—I’d already eaten the carton of french fries—and drinking a chocolate milk shake with the other.
“How are your feet feeling?” Sam asked me.
“OK,” I answered. “Why?”
“What if we walked around for a bit before getting on the T?” he asked. “You look gorgeous and the weather is nice and . . . I don’t know. I want to prolong the moment.”
I smiled. I figured I had a few minutes of walking before my heels started to rub up against the broad bones of my feet.
“I’m in,” I said, and then I took another bite of my burger. When I swallowed, it occurred to me that there was a flaw in his argument. “How are you going to try to say that this is a beautiful moment between us when I’m eating a Whopper?”
Sam laughed. “I think I just love you that much,” he said. “That even standing next to you as you cram Burger King into your mouth is special to me.” He took a sip of his milk shake after he said it. I watched as his cheeks sucked in to pull the ice cream up the straw while he stood on the sidewalk looking dapper in his dark suit. I knew exactly what he meant. I felt exactly what he felt.
“You look cute trying to inhale that milk shake,” I told him.
“See?” he said. “That’s how I know you’re in love with me. You’ve also gone crazy.”
We continued to walk along the sidewalk as I took another bite of my burger.
“I really mean it,” Sam said. “I’m madly in love with you. I hope that you know how much.”
I smiled at him. “I suspect I do,” I said teasingly.
“I don’t know if this is exactly the right time but . . . I want to make sure you know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I don’t know if I’ve properly conveyed it but I am committed to this, to us. I’m in, you know? For life. I want you forever. My only concern is that I don’t want to pressure you.”
“I don’t feel pressure,” I said. I was still processing what he was saying, still beginning to understand how monumental this moment we were having truly was.
“Are you sure?” he said. “Because I have to be honest. I’m ready to cash in. I’d commit to you for the rest of our lives without a single doubt in my mind. I have never been happier than I have been during this year with you. And—the way I see it—you’re it for me. You’re everything.”
I looked at him, listening to him. I didn’t respond because I was wrapped up in how wonderful it felt to be me just then, how nice it felt to be loved the way he loved me.
Sam shifted his gaze and drank from his milk shake. And then he looked at me and said, “I guess what I’m saying is I’m ready. So now I’ll just wait until you’re ready, if you’re ever ready. If you ever want to.”
“If I ever want to . . .” I wanted to make sure I understood exactly what he was saying.
“Marry me,” he said, taking another sip of his milk shake.
“Wait, are you . . .” I wanted to ask him if he was proposing but something about the word seemed so formal, so daring.
“I’m not proposing,” Sam said. “But what I’m saying is that I’m not ‘not proposing’ because I don’t want to. I want to. I just want to wait until you’re ready for me to propose.”
“I don’t think I understood half of that sentence,” I said, smiling at him.
“It wasn’t the best one I’ve ever said,” he said, laughing.
“Can you just say what you’re saying clearly and succinctly?” I asked.
Sam smiled and nodded. “Emma Blair, if you ever decide that you want to marry me, please tell me. Because I would like to marry you.”
I dropped the hamburger onto the street. I didn’t mean to; it just fell out of my hand, as if my brain had said to my fingers, “Stop whatever you’re doing, and pay attention to what’s happening.” And then I took both of my free hands and wrapped them around Sam’s face and kissed him with everything I felt in my heart.
When I pulled away, I didn’t let him speak. I said, “Let’s do it.”
“What?” Sam said.
“I want to marry you.”
“Wait,” Sam said. “Are you sure?” I could tell that he couldn’t believe what he was hearing and it made me love him even more.
“I’m absolutely positive,” I said. “I want to marry you. Of course I do. I love you. So much.”
“Oh, wow,” Sam said, smiling so wide his eyes crinkled. “Are we . . . are we getting engaged?”
I laughed, blissful. “I think we are,” I said.
Sam took stock of the moment. “No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head. “This won’t do. It has to be better than this. We can’t get engaged while I’m holding a milk shake.”
He dropped his milk shake in the trash can. I picked my hamburger off the ground and threw it away.
“OK,” Sam said. “We’re gonna do this right.”
He got down on one knee.
“Oh, God,” I said, overwhelmed and stunned. “Sam! What are you doing?”
“I just don’t have a ring yet,” he said. “But I know everything else. Come here.” He reached for my hand and held it in his.
“Emma,” he said, teary. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I always have. You and I . . . we fit like the gears of a machine, like interlocking pieces that join together effortlessly, turning in tandem, perfectly in sync.
“I believe in us, sweetheart. I believe that I am good for you and that I am a better man because of you. And I want to spend the rest of my life by your side. So, Emma Blair, here it is: Will you marry me?”
The first thought that popped into my head was, This is too soon. But then the second thought was, I think I deserve to be happy.
“Yes,” I said quietly. I was surprised just how hard it was to project my voice in that moment, how much my astonishment had muted me. But he heard me. He knew my answer. He stood up and kissed me as if it were the first time.
I felt a welling in my eyes that I knew I stood no chance of holding back. I started bawling.
“Are you okay?” Sam asked me.
I nodded emphatically. “I’m wonderful,” I said. “I’m . . .”
I wasn’t sure what word I was looking for, what adjective I could possibly use to describe the chaotic elation that was running through my heart.
“I love you,” I said, realizing that it was as close as I could ever get.
“I love you, too.”
I was tempted to say, “I’m so grateful for you,” and “I can’t believe you’re real,” but instead I pulled him close to me and held him as tight as I possibly could.