On Monday I was unhappily eating Vegemite toast when I heard Joel’s key in the door. I say unhappily eating Vegemite because if I’m going to eat it I’ll only put it on one slice and have something else on the other. It’s too tangy for 8am. But since Joel left for overseas I barely had the will to bathe, let alone go grocery shopping to buy more breakfast stuff. That’s right, I’m pathetic and can’t live without him. Either that or I’m really lazy and unhygienic.
Anyway I got up and gave him such a big hug I was surprised he didn’t need surgery to get his intestines re-inserted. As I left for work he told me to tell him when I’d be home because he had something planned. I figured it would be a chicken stir-fry or the unveiling of a hideous Batman tattoo. But when I got home, later than usual, he’d packed my bag, told me he’d hired a car and we were going somewhere for the night.
By this point, I’d kind of caught on to what was happening. But I wasn’t sure. Joel and I had talked about getting engaged before but had kind of come to the agreement we’d travel first. And when I say we’d “talked” about it, I mean he’d spent years laughing awkwardly whenever I mentioned it and I’d secretly been looking at fun vintage dresses I could get married in.
We arrived in Leura at about 8.30 and it was a cold ghost town. A waitress at a restaurant we tried to get into pointed us towards a Thai place across the road. It was beautiful – empty, with red walls, crisp linen tablecloths and inappropriately loud 80s music, including that “I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me” heartbreaker. I ordered a chicken jungle curry and as soon as it was served, the familiar smell of cat wee went right up my nostrils and punched me in the bile bag. It looked, smelt and tasted exactly like fresh wiz. The J-man was visibly disappointed and apologetic. Almost like he was the culprit.
He had booked us into a beautiful bed and breakfast we had stayed in years ago for an anniversary during uni. After dinner we went back to our cosy room and Joel pulled out a bottle of Chandon. I gasped. But never fear, he said – “It’s duty-free bebe!” So we had a glass and chatted for a while and then decided to have a spa.
I guess I’d prefer my parents not to know I’ve ever been naked, but it’s an essential part of the story. As I eagerly took off my clothes ready to streak through the quadrangle before jumping in the lovely big tub, Joel said “I have something to ask you”. He said I should probably cover up and he gave me some clothes. Then he pulled a giant plastic ring shaped like a tortoise out of his pocket. He popped the question. After first checking he was for real, I immediately said yes. I’d never seen that look on Joel’s face before. He was obviously really nervous and scared and maybe a little overwhelmed. The tortoise was because he’d been so slow to ask me. Moments after, I told him I really didn’t feel any different.
But the next morning I woke up, looked at the back of his little head for the first time as an engaged couple and it really did feel different. Amazing, really.
We got up and slowly wandered the main street of Leura and had breakfast at a cute cafe called The Red Door run by a cheery French woman. I had a bacon and egg baguette with tomato relish and he had French toast and bacon drowned in maple syrup. Then we looked at all his London photos together in the sun. It was a lovely clear morning and felt as if everyone in Leura – except for the junkie who was abusing an old couple – knew we were engaged.
We kept our eye out for a real ring (the plastic one is more of a ‘reserved’ sign), I bought a hair clip made from vintage ribbon and some cute pink floral stationery so I could write to everyone to let them know.
Then we came back to Sydney and did the groceries. I bought some honey.
Here’s the evidence (of the engagement, not the honey. Thems are a whoooole different set of photos).