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Published: March 7th 2012
Tara's RingTara: "You know, you never wrote about our engagement." Dan: "Really, I'm sure that I must have." Tara: "No, you didn't."
In Thailand, Tara was finally able to have her ring.
She was right I didn't. But I have the chance to make up for it now. Although we were engaged five-months ago, this story does not begin there. It begins last July and takes place in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York, on the St. Lawrence River on both the American and Canadian side, in Boston Massachusets and in Phuket, Thailand.
When I made the decision to come to Thailand, to complete a TESOL course in Phuket, and to spend at least one semester teaching english to Thai students, I did so with my girlfriend of seven years, Tara. When I left Phuket on the way to Kanchanaburi to live while waiting to hear about job prospects, I left with my fiance, Tara.
It was early in the morning in Phuket, and we had not yet started our TESOL course or student teaching. I suggested a walk on the beach, and knew that Tara would like the opportunity to take some photos. While she was getting ready I snuck
Way Back When
Tara and I, still very early in our relationship.
over into the corner of the room where my backpack was sitting on the floor. There, rolled tightly inside of a purple diesel tee-shirt, was a small box containing the engagement ring I had purchased for Tara several months before. Would this finally be the right moment? I hoped so.
The decision to purchase the ring had probably been put off longer than it should have. Tara and I went to the same high school but didn't really know each other. At a party one night I found out that she would be attending SUNY Binghamton, where I already happened to have spent a year studying. As I had still neglected to choose a major as a sophomore, simply fulfilling general education requirements and taking courses I found interesting, I didn't really have any comitments regarding what courses I did and did not take. I went and sat down next to Tara and said, "I heard you are starting at BU. Do you know what you are taking yet?" As a matter of fact she did, and she listed off the courses. Most of them were science and psychology courses to fulfill her major, but one was a philosophy
This would have been a beautiful setting, but it was Matt and Andrea's weekend, not ours.
elective "Descartes, Hume and Kant." I had taken a philosophy course or two and was quite interested, and while Descartes, Hume and Kant were not necessarily high on my list, it seemed to me that Tara was. "Oh really, I'll have to check my schedule, but I think I may be taking that course as well," I lied.
The next day I quickly scanned the course list and, sure enough "Descartes, Hume and Kant." I quickly dropped another class - I don't remember what it was, and added the philosophy class. Over the next six-months or so Tara and I got to know one another and, that summer, I rented an apartment with my friends. Tara and I basically lived together, either at one of my apartments or at my mother's house until I finished university, and when I began Graduate School we got a place together where we lived for three years. I guess by this point, getting engaged just didn't seem that high on the radar. We had been together for seven years, lived together for seven years, and had our own place together for three. It was almost as if we were already married, without the
Belhurst Castle 4
Still thinking about if this would be the right time...
wedding photos or honeymoon.
Over the summer, a few months before we left for Thailand, Tara and I had just eaten lunch at a small indian buffet and met my mom at a farmers market. Tara left to meet a friend and my mom, with whom I had been discussing proposing to Tara with for quite some time, had a suggestion. "I want you to come to the Goldsmith with me," she said. They had a twenty-percent off sale on all jewelry, regardless of the price, including engagement rings - which I guess is not all that common. When we arrived we looked through the selection, and there was one ring, and only one, that truly caught my eye. It was the one that my mom had been eyeing as well. Most of the rings looked the same, but this one looked very different - perhaps even a bit too different, with the triangular shapes presenting themselves a bit harshly to the eye. When we looked at it with an actual diamond inside, however, the harshness of the shapes began to melt away and the ring looked, in my humble opinion, rather stunning. I think at that point I
Thousand Islands Restaurant
A beautiful view from the restaurant, but too many people and a sub-par meal sealed our fate for that night
decided that this was the ring I wanted Tara to spend the rest of her life wearing, but the price was quite high for the platinum, diamond studded setting, and that didn't even include the diamond itself. While I did not at all mind spending this kind of money for Tara, we were about to be moving to another country where our incomes would be considerably lower. As those of you who are both married, and have travelled to Thailand can attest, you can do a lot here with the price of an engagement ring. It was at this point that my mom, who had been hinting at it for awhile, told me that I could have her diamond to give to Tara. When her and my father divorced, she had the ring made into a pendant, but she didn't often find occasion to wear it. She would be happy to give it up for Tara, she said.
When I ran the idea past my dad, he had no objections either. He told me the story of how when he was young, around my age in fact, he had already begun his career as a roofer. One of the
View from the boat tour 2
The view from the boat was spectacular, but it was not the right environment.
jobs was for a Mr. Rinker, who was one of the best known jewelers in the area at the time. When my father finished the job, he asked the old man if he could buy a diamond to use for an engagement. Mr. Rinker took him into his home where he kept a safe, and from the safe he pulled a collection of diamonds. He pulled one from the safe, inspected it, and showed it to my father. "I would be happy if this diamond should be for my own daughter," he exclaimed.
So maybe the diamond hadn't been the best of luck for my parents, but we are not the type who believe that a stone can make or break a relationship. Besides, why not reuse diamonds when people's life and limb are literally at stake in the cultivation of new diamonds. Everything seemed to be working out like it should, and so I made the purchase that afternoon. This was the easy part. Finding the perfect way to engage, now that was another matter entirely.
The ring would sit in a box, hidden in a drawer for more than three months. There were no less than
Trip to Boston
Boston - with our friends Tom and Bianca (left) and Tom's sister Jan (back) and brother-in-law Andrew. The ring stayed in my bag here in Boston as well.
three occasions where I took out the ring and brought it with me on an occasion that I intended to propose. The time just never seemed to be right.
The first was a trip to the beautiful Finger Lakes wine region of central New York. The five long, narrow, and extremely deep lakes were formed by receding glaciers during the last ice age. The climate around the lakes is fine for growing many types of grapes and hundreds if not thousands of wineries have sprung up in the last few decades, yet the area maintains a beautiful, country feel, dotted with antique farms and rolling hills. Tara's good friend from university Andrea was having a wedding at the beautiful Belhurst Castle on Seneca lake, and Tara and I would be spending two days and nights there. It seemed like the perfect time, some beautiful scenery, a fun weekend in a peaceful location with friends, but also plenty of time to spend alone. While the setting seemed great, the doubt began to set in. While I would never dream of proposing at the wedding or reception itself, I wondered if proposing anytime during that weekend would force the bride and
groome to share the spotlight, so to speak, and I decided it would be in poor taste. Besides, who is to say I would have worked up the courage or found the right moment anyways? The ring made it's way back to Binghamton with us, in much the same way it had come, hidden in it's box.
About a month or two later we were heading to a place that has been quite special to us over the years, the Thousand Islands region on the mighty St. Lawrence River on the border of upstate New York and Canada. The Thousand Island's region is one of those few places we know of that combines unrivaled natural beauty with a suprising relative lack of tourism or over-development. There is only one Subway, and one McDonalds (about twenty-miles north). Imagine that! When my father was a child, his grandfather had a small cottage on the St. Lawrence, where the family would have many great memories, the type you always grow up hearing about as your parents pack the car for the Mecca of their youth. To continue the tradition, my uncle bought a cabin in Chippewa Bay, about thirteen-miles north of the
Just before the engagement
In Nai Harn Beach not long before our engagement
main tourist town of Alexandria Bay. For Tara and I, this was always a wonderful getaway spot from the time we first started dating. We had shared some wonderful moments and memories there and the natural beauty of the nature and the privacy seemed like the perfect place for a proposal.
Once again, I packed the ring, taking extreme caution to ensure that it would not be found as Tara searched for bug-spray or a sweatshirt, or something of the like. On our final night, we were planning a sun-set boat tour of the islands, followed by dinner on a patio overlooking the water, and finally a drive-in movie. As we were getting ready to leave I took out the ring and placed it inside of a magnetic key-holder, big enough to prevent it from getting lost in my pocket, but small enough to not protrude through from the pocket of my relatively fitted jeans, as the ring's box surely would have. As we cruised up the St. Lawrence river, the view was magnificent, but there were just too many tourists and small children around, and the young-man standing in front of us narrating the tour over a loud-speaker
sealed the deal. No proposal on the sun-set cruise. Dinner was the same situation, a beautiful setting, but many tourists swarming about. The fact that Tara did not particularly enjoy her meal did not help either. I was hoping that maybe we would have time to walk to a small park near the water, with an island gazebo, but that would have made us late for the drive-in movie we were planning to attend, and I really didn't have a good reason to suggest we miss the movie for a stroll through the park.
No, the idea of proposing at the drive-in during Rise of the Planet of the Apes did not cross my mind.
The ring was repacked as carefully as it had been packed, and returned back to Binghamton with us. When we returned home and Tara was not around my mom approached me. "Did you give it to her yet?" "No mom, I still didn't find the right time to do it." "Okay, because for a moment, I thought you had given it to her and she had lost it, and you were afraid to tell me." "No mom, that didn't happen." The problem is,
I was finding myself faced with quite a dilemma. The Goldsmith had promised that after I proposed, we could bring the ring in and they would size it for free. Now, I had only about two-weeks, or I would have to leave for Thailand with an unfitted ring. I was not necessarily keen on that.
My final opportunity came the weekend before we left. We took a trip to visit our good friends Tom and Bianca in Cambridge, Massachusets, just outside of Boston. Tom and Bianca had been engaged and married in the past year. Maybe I could ask Tom to help me set something up? Maybe I could just wait until the moment was right? We spent one night drinking craft beers and chatting, one night at a local concert, one at a crazy party at some crazy girls house. We took a train into central Boston and saw about 10,000+ people smoking marijuana at a 'legalize it' rally in Boston's biggest park. We saw an imax film, ate Thai and Indian food, took silly pictures and laughed and talked for long hours. Still none of the times seemed quite right. Once again the ring stayed hidden, and
this time I made a decision - the ring was coming to Thailand, not on Tara's finger, but in a Goldsmith box.
This was going to be perhaps the most difficult trip the ring would take. Tara was doing the packing... Where could I put it that she wouldn't stumble upon it? Could I put it in our checked luggage? Certainly not, what if it were lost? It seemed I would have to take it as a carry-on, but would the bag scan report it as a suspicious object? Would security pull it out in front of Tara and ruin the suprise? And what if the ring didn't fit her finger? Would we have to be engaged, but with no ring to show for it? Can we trust having a ring fitted in Thailand, and do they even have or work with platinum jewelry? There was only one way to find out.
Remarkably, we made it to our hotel in Nai harn beach, Phuket without Tara discovering the ring. As we prepared for our morning beach walk I pulled out the box and stuck it in my bathing suit pocket. It stuck out from the pocket a bit,
but I decided it wasn't too noticeable. As we walked along the beach we talked about the decision we had made to come to Thailand, as we took in the awe-inspiring scene. With the heat, the turquoise blue ocean, and the magnificent greenery scenery surrounding us, everything felt very new, very refreshing and we felt very alive. I noticed a large rock formation at the end of the beach, and suggested that we should climb it to get a better view. As we climbed a top the rocks my head began to spin. I really don't remember what we talked about, and my mind raced through the scenarios, weighing my choices. As we sat there I made my decision and pulled out the box. Our many years together had culminated in that moment, and it seemed very fitting that we should start our new lives together, as we were indeed starting a new life together.
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