Tera was extra squirmy today during our bedtime story and so I abandoned the book and picked her up to walk around. I then proceeded to tell her another kind of story. A real story from my memory. The story of when her daddy proposed to me. It was magical. It is still in my mind now as I sit here in front of this blank page. These days I have been at a bit of a loss of words, so I figured why not share this lovely story today.
It was a sunny spring day like any other. We lived in Seoul and I was working as a model while he worked in Incheon as an English teacher. The commute was long for us both. We lived in the middle. It was tiring. That is why weekends were our time to unwind and spend with each other. Now I am the kind of person who LOVES to go exploring and do touristy things in a city. There is a small mountain with a tower on it in the middle of Seoul called Namsan (translates to south mountain) tower. It is pretty symbolic of the city and one of the most popular tourist sites. Since I first came to Korea I have always wanted to visit it. NO ONE would go with me. Seriously. No one. I have even lived in the Namsan area and walked my dogs through the parks below the tower daily and had never been up inside it. So, when he suggested that we spend the day visiting the tower, I was ecstatic. Maybe it was fate that no one else would go with me before him.
Before we left, he suggested that we hit the mall. (we did live right next to it) We bought some cute couple shirts, had some delicious food and he even spoiled me with some new jeans. It was already such a wonderful day and I was feeling great. He is that kind of person. The kind who thinks about all of the little details to make it perfect.
When we arrived, it was packed with people. I remember waiting in the car in a line to get into the parking lot and suggesting that maybe we ought to go another day instead, but he insisted that it wasn’t that many people and that we were already there so we might as well just go. I was still excited.
I should give you some back story on our idea of marriage. Both him and I come from broken families of divorce. From what I have been through in my own childhood from my parents divorces I swore to myself I would never do myself. If I was to get married, I would have to be sure and there would be no backing out. It is very important to me. With this being said, after only dating for a few weeks, we had been talking about marriage. It was always in a wishful way like how wonderful it would be if it was only possible (at the time it seemed like we had too many obstacles in our way). I have had boyfriends in the past ask, and I had always said no. I never took relationships seriously until I met my husband. It seriously was different from the beginning. It feels like I have known him my whole life and I really can’t imagine life without him now. I really don’t know how to explain it. But I knew even from the beginning, he was the one. I stopped caring about anyone or anything else. People sometimes ask what I see in him. There isn’t a quality or something that he did that made me fall in love. It just happened. I couldn’t control it. He makes me want to be a better person. So I was ready for when he asked. I didn’t even need to think about it.
This was one of our first obstacles with culture differences. I was not aware of how marriage happened in Korea. Let me explain. First, the couple decides together that they want to get married. Then there is a big deal about parent’s meeting each other and approving of the marriage. Some time later there might be a big proposal, and she might know about it before hand. Engagement rings do not get worn often. They are usually kept locked up and used for honestly I don’t know what, maybe special occasions. (I started wearing mine everyday after we got engaged and saw some others then inspired to do the same after they learnt how we do it out west). I remember one day he asked me why we hadn’t started talking to our parents about getting married if I was serious about marrying him and he was so surprised when I explained that it was because he hadn’t proposed yet. (Sorry dad I didn’t explain the whole asking the father’s permission until after it had happened).
He told me later that he had originally planned it to be a New Year’s engagement but of course I had to go and mess it up by breaking my left arm and being in an ugly cast/sling for the holidays. Not ideal for sporting a new engagement ring. It is kind of funny since we were also supposed to have a New Year’s baby which ended up not happening either.
Back to the parking lot… There are two ways to go up the mountain. One is to walk up the park paths (takes about 45 minutes) and the other is to ride the cable car. I had walked those paths many times with my dogs but I had never rode the cable car. Oh yes, we rode the cable car. The only down side was the long wait and it was really crowed with people. But it was still beautiful. However, by the time we finally arrived at the top, the sun was already setting. Needless to say, this made the atmosphere even more romantic. We walked around a bit and suddenly some guy comes up to us and asks to take our picture for some magazine. Little did I know that this was actually one of his friends. The funny thing is, I was all in model mode and asked for a business card so I could follow up with the pictures later. Luckily he actually worked in media and had a business card on hand (thankfully I didn’t read it carefully). Anyways, he made us move over to this bench for a “better shot.”
Beside the bench there was a man sitting playing romantic guitar music. I didn’t know that this was another one of his friends. And that’s when it happened. The mood was perfect. It really was like a romantic movie scene. He got down on one knee and pulled out a ring. Now the problem was that I was too excited. He was talking and I was not listening. Not even a little. My head was screaming, ‘OMG this is it, OMG this is real, OMG you are not even listening to what he is saying. OK don’t say yes until he finishes.’ And then he paused. I guess it was to breathe, or maybe because I looked silly because he didn’t know what was running through my head and when I get excited I look like a giddy 5 year old (yes I often clap when really happy). Well I thought that pause was him finishing. So I blurted out, “Yes!네” Only to be followed by an, “I wasn’t finished lol.” So now I am forever remembered as being too eager to say yes and cutting him off in the middle of his proposal to do it and of course we had an audience. The good news is that he wasn’t really upset about it since well… I said yes after all.
We bought some cute heart shaped locks and wrote on them. He wrote will you marry me on one and I wrote yes on the other. Then we locked them on a fence to forever be a symbol to remember that moment. They are still there now. It was like a Disney movie. It felt like magic.
Once I learnt that the other players (photographer and guitarist) were his friends we decided to all go eat and celebrate together. Unfortunately I didn’t know this about Korean culture either. That an after proposal dinner is usually a big thing and the couple would go to an expensive fancy restaurant. So when asked where I wanted to go, in my oblivion, I said “삼겹살” (Like BBQ pork). So I will also be remembered for this since they all laughed. But we did go anyways even after they explained the culture to me and I didn’t care. I didn’t want to be like anyone else and we didn’t need to spend a lot of money to celebrate (that is what the wedding is for right?).
If you scroll way down on my instagram you can see some more pictures. We had only known each other 8 months and I never regretted jumping in for a single moment. Oh and we never did actually go up the tower that day but don’t worry when my family came down for the wedding the next year we all finally went together. And just like all good love stories, we are currently living in our happily ever after.