How I Proposed!

For months leading up to the day I proposed to Tyler, I had everything planned out; this was going to be the most magical, perfect proposal ever! But of course, as we know, things rarely go that way! Instead, what we got was a funny story we'll be laughing at for years.

In case you're not already aware of how much Back to the Future means to me, and how ridiculously obsessed with it I am, here is a post explaining that. After the roller coaster ride of a relationship I'd gone on with Tyler--from meeting him in sixth-grade homeroom in 2004, to being middle-school best friends, high school sweethearts, and every other combination of terms you can think up--I knew it was time for our relationship to focus on one thing: the future. And I knew my future was with him.

This was in the summer of 2015, which meant that an important date was only a few months away: October 21, 2015. For those of you who aren't as weirdly obsessed with one particular 80s sci-fi franchise as I am, October 21, 2015 is the day when Marty and Doc arrive in the future in Back to the Future II. While they're there, the Cubs win the World Series, and Biff steals the DeLorean to take a sports almanac back to 1955, get rich gambling, and rise to political power with a scarily Trump-like aesthetic.

Because of that movie, October 21, 2015 had signified "the future" to me since childhood. And that date was coming up on us; it was about to be the present. This must've been what George Orwell fans felt like when it actually became 1984...except hopefully less dystopian.

The Cubs were doing ridiculously well, and as both a Chicagoan AND Back to the Future fan, I couldn't be more excited. They were going to win the World Series, just like the movie predicted! Everything was in place to be perfect.

I planned my proposal to Tyler for October 21, 2015. For his Back to the Future Day gift, I was going to take him on a time travel adventure. I started off by taking the model DeLorean he gave me for my 20th birthday (its doors open!) and putting a folded-up piece of paper inside. That paper had the first clue leading to a scavenger hunt. The scavenger hunt would take him two places--to the past, and to the future.

When he reached the past, he would find a scrapbook I'd made him of our past together--everything from our awkward 6th grade yearbook photos, to our somehow even more awkward prom photos, and everything in between. When he reached the future, he'd find a new scrapbook, this one made out of comics I drew--pictures of how I predicted we'd spend our future. These drawings depicted us doing things like getting a dog together, taking a trip to Disney World, and finding careers that made us both happy. Then, when he finished the scrapbook, I'd get down on one knee and ask him to marry me.

Are you crying yet? This is seriously beautiful stuff, friends.

But of course, none of it happened like that! The summer before, Tyler had somehow guessed that I was going to propose to him on October 21. He probably guessed it because I'd told him I was planning a vague "surprise" for him, and because when people guess the right thing, my face instantly gives it away.

This will not come as a shocker to any of you, but the job market for recent college graduates in 2015 was absolute shit. (The reason that fact won't shock you is that the job market has not improved.) That October, I was working the one and only corporate 9-5 salaried job I ever worked. I stayed there only one month, because the job made me miserable. I won't name the company, because I signed some kind of clause in exchange for $200 of severance that I immediately lost $60 of to taxes. Tyler was unemployed and searching tirelessly for a job in programming or software development. Clearly, as we got closer to October 21, life was not treating either of us that well.

On October 20th, the day before, Tyler told me he was worried about not being ready to get married. He thought he'd have found a job by now. We discussed waiting a few years after the actual proposal to have any kind of wedding, so everything seemed okay. That night, when I was asleep, Tyler wrote me a letter about how he wasn't ready to tell anyone about being engaged. It might look bad when we weren't in a great place financially and didn't have our careers on track.

That morning, I read the letter on the bus to the job I hated, and I broke down crying. After all the time I spent planning this awesome proposal, he didn't want me to propose to him yet! I didn't know what to do. There was no way I could focus on my shitty job, so I spent most of the day crying in the Merchandise Mart bathroom.

On my lunch break, I finally talked to Tyler. He had apologized to me a million times at this point. Then, he said something to me that I didn't understand: "I thought this could be a good compromise."

"What compromise?" I asked him. "You just don't want me to do it!"

He then explained to me that he DID want me to propose to him--he just didn't want us to make any public announcements yet! That night, he'd realized his fear was not from committing to me or anything like that, but he was afraid of the attention that we would get from announcing an engagement, and didn't want that kind of attention until we had some job security. However, the language in the letter I'd gotten was ambiguous--to me, it had sounded like he didn't want me to propose at all. When I'd called him crying that morning, he had assumed I didn't accept his terms of not telling anyone yet, and was no longer going to propose. So we had both spend our entire mornings super sad over a simple misunderstanding!
Us at a Cubs game in 2015.

When I got home that day, Tyler had made me an elaborate dinner of homemade fajitas as a way to apologize for the misunderstanding this morning. Then, I took him on his time travel adventure. I asked him to marry me, and he said yes.

Then, we both got big platefuls of fajitas, and watched all three Back to the Future movies in a row.

That night, the Cubs lost, eliminating them from the options to go to the World Series. But then they won the World Series for the first time in over a century the NEXT year, in 2016. And in 2017, I got married to the guy who'd been my best friend for more than a decade.

Things don't always work out the way you expect or want them to--but they WILL work out one way or another, as long as you keep looking into the future.



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