Just a fare warning: this is going to be longer than my normal posts… but I can’t help it, because this is one of my very best friends and it had been something in the works for almost two months.
Back in July, John had messaged me about his upcoming proposal. He mentioned that he wanted to do it over a weekend in late August or early September and that he wanted to do it in the Redwoods in Northern California. (Shalom looovess trees.) They had picked out a ring way back in January so this girl knew it was coming any day now. How were we supposed to catch her off guard?
I was in Vietnam at the time and I wanted to get Shalom a gift because her birthday was coming up. However because I was across the world, I couldn’t very well send her anything. I thought I’d plan a little get-away for us to spend some quality time together; it had been ages since the two of us spent more than one day together. Shalom is a work-a-holic and I knew that the only way I could force her to take time off is if I said I had booked and paid for everything. It was perfect timing. I called her on her birthday, left a voicemail and said, “Happy birthday! Get August 24-26th off because I’m taking you on a road trip.”
Over the next several weeks, John and I continued to plan and we almost had to figure out a plan B, because Shalom was panicking about taking time off of work. (Told you, this girl loves her job.) John ended up emailing her boss and filling him in and we were set!
Fast forward to August 24th, I picked Shalom up early in the morning and we jet off. I forgot to mention… this girl pretty much lives in her workout clothes and prior to leaving I told her that she was only allowed to wear them while we were driving and while we were at the hotel. To convince her to bring some nice clothes for the actual moment, I told her I needed some new photos for an editorial project I was working on.
The whole trip down, she was talking about her grand plans for the wedding as well as the moments of frustration she’s had about not being engaged by now. It was all I could do to keep cool and listen. I was pretty nervous about slipping, let’s be honest. We got in late Sunday night, caught up on all the things of life, drank Rose and watched the VMA’s before slipping off to sleep. Shalom’s last night as a ‘girlfriend’.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and then I took her to get her nails re-done (her paint was chipping and every girl knows that their nails have to look good for the moment, right?), as well as some shopping. I thought she’d like an additional outfit for the photos we’d be taking after John proposed, so as a birthday gift she picked out a few things. I was having so much fun, knowing what was about to happen in a few hours.
We got back to the hotel and had a few hours to kill so she hit the gym and I hit the hot tub. As she was in the shower, I called John to see how he was getting along. John had flew in to Medford the night before and had driven down the same time we were. Because Shalom and John keep in touch pretty well, he did an amazing job not raising any eyebrows on Shalom’s end during the hours he was in the air. Anyway, John told me that he had found the perfect trail and gave me specific instructions as to where he’d be. I was really nervous about not finding the right place. The Redwoods are huge and I knew that once we were out there, cell reception would be unavailable.
I had originally told Shalom that I wanted to do these photos on the beach, but as she was dressing I told her I thought we should hit the Redwoods that afternoon because we’d be way too tired on the drive back up the next day to stop to take photos. She was very nonchalant about it and responded with, “Whatever you think you need for your portfolio!”
It took us about an hour to drive to the trailhead. As we were driving, she was telling me about her Pinterest board of the type of photos she wanted me to take when they were engaged. I was so tempted to ask her to show me them right then and there! Little did she know… I pulled in right behind John’s rental car (he had sent me a photo of it), and I knew that John was literally within a five minute walk of us.
Shalom would be engaged in the next twenty minutes.
John had asked me to come take photos of the proposal, but last minute I decided it’d be fun to make a video. I can’t really explain the emotions I felt when Shalom saw John for the first time, how her hands cupped her face, how she dropped to the ground. I can not imagine how these two felt- their rush of emotions. I can only speak for myself. But in that moment, the world literally froze for me. I’ve never experienced anything like that and I am so grateful that I was there for my friend- the spunky 7th grader with long blonde hair who was pumped on volleyball and loved her flute.
I love you both. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives.
Also, yes... it is true. The first thing Shalom said to John when she saw him was, "I have jerky breath..." Damn me, I shouldn't have let her have that beef jerky prior to starting the trail. HA!
*This video is definitely an amateur's hand at work so I apologize in advance for the shakiness.
Can't wait for your wedding! LET'S GET YOU MURPHIED.