Thank you for all of your well wishes via email, skype, facebook, and blogspot! We are both so happy and are loving how technology has allowed us to share this moment with everyone no matter where they are!
People have been asking me about the proposal, so I figured I'd post the story so those who were interested in the planning could read at their leisure.
If you who haven't met me yet, you have to know that I consider myself a very calm, even-keel person, with one exception: I am a HORRIBLE secret keeper. I get so excited I can't keep it in, and I have blurted out about every surprise I've ever came up with for Alison within hours of finalizing the plan. Let's just say keeping this under wraps was the equivalent of me climbing Mount Everest without oxygen.
Last June, Alison and I went to the diamond district "just for fun." She picked out a setting she loved, and the jeweler gave me a password for his encrypted website because I laid it on thick that I was going to buy from him but "needed to consolidate accounts and transfer to checking." (I was so impressed with myself for the banking lingo haha). In August, she and I went to Phoenix, and Lindsay took her out to lunch with another friend from study abroad. I used this golden opportunity to go to Schmitt (the jewelry store that my family has used forever) with the printed out setting.
I had originally planned on having my parents bring the ring with them in February but then decided it was unfair to the Rosenbergs to have my family be so involved (helping me with the jeweler, seeing it, bringing it) while they were left in the lurch. I had wanted to propose in China since I was pretty sure Alison was expecting a rock on her ring finger when we got back to NYC but not before...but refused to mail it to China as the customs might switch the diamond for glass. I was stuck until Uncle Manny mentioned that he was definitely coming to visit. He saved the day! The ring was finished Dec 2 and was overnighted to him, and he brought it to China.
In the meantime, I had been wracking my brains about how to propose. I had a few ideas, but what really stuck out at me was that for my sister's wedding, they had made magnet "save the dates" from pictures Ben's family had taken of them immediately after The Question. And I knew we weren't going to have that since we're so far away...and I decided that was unfair to cheat Alison and us of this aspect of the engagement just because I wanted to surprise her by proposing a few months early ;)
We had met people from a photography studio at the Christmas Bazaar, and I emailed them to ask if they could take pictures of us before/during/after I proposed. They were so excited and sent sample pictures of a few places, and one of them was the Great Wall. Though they mentioned winter at the Great Wall meant pictures of lots of dead trees and kept trying to convince me to switch to prettier settings, I thought it was the perfect place, and with the help of some online counseling from a few friends and a brother-in-law, I stayed the course. We arranged for Jan 15, to coincide with our 5 month anniversary of Beijing.
When Uncle Manny was here, I was super calm about everything, but the second he left, I started getting anxious again. Everytime I worked from home, I'd take the ring out of the hiding spot to make sure it was still ok and would write or read with it on the table next to me for safe-keeping. Basically, I started feeling like that guy from the Edgar Allan Poe story that killed a man but hid his body under the floor and invited the chief of police over for coffee...then turned himself in as he heard the heartbeat of the deadman getting louder and louder (the heartbeat was actually his though). I could feel the ring calling to Alison, begging her to find it (my precccccioussss), and every time she opened the cupboard where it was hidden, my heart dropped. If that weren't bad enough, she kept doing really cute things and I'd think to myself, wow I love her so much, this is a great moment, I should ask now! And then luckily I'd talk myself out of it.
I don't want you all to think I'm completely insane, so I will stop there...but long story short, I moved the date up a month :) And poor Alan and Sandy had to deal with me when we were coordinating the appropriate time to ask them via skype videochat for their blessing. (Which, I will put on record, they did not give me until 25 minutes after I asked! They were excited and talking about plans etc, so I knew they'd say ok, but still... 25 minutes!)
Tuesday, I dropped off champagne and flutes at the studio and went over the plan. I told them Alison had NO idea about the proposal, that she knew Bella's name from the bazaar but would probably not remember her face (and I asked her to not introduce herself until we got to the wall), and to give me a sign when the photographer picked the perfect place. I knew Alison had a hunch we were getting our pictures taken, so I wanted them to hide the champagne, pick us up at a different spot than the studio, and then drive us directly to the Great Wall. They agreed.
To my chagrin, when we were picked up yesterday at our predisposed location, Bella said, "Oh ALISON, HI!, It's Bella, do you remember me from the bazaar?" and then giggled as she winked at me and said, "Don't worry, Adam, we have all of your special supplies."
I almost threw up.
We had a really fun time getting the pictures taken, and they were extremely professional, which relaxed me. It was 10 degrees warmer than forecast and a beautiful sunny day (so rare here!). They had arranged for a secret signal for the perfect spot (I told them I wanted us in the foreground and the wall in the background stretching far), and the photographer winked at me so I knew it was my moment.
I had practiced what I was going to say, but could NOT get the words out. So, instead of talking about how much I loved Alison, how I'd known she was The One a few weeks into dating, how we complement each other so perfectly, how I couldn't imagine my future without her a part of it, etc, etc etc ...I said, "Uh, em, er. I am horrible at secrets. Um, er. I love you. Um (clear throat and cue fast blurting) I have a question to ask you (kneel) will you marry me?"
And, luckily, she said yes! :)