So, now that you know the things you need to know first…
Here’s the One You’ve Been Waiting For. 😜
Sean’s birthday started like any other.
With me begging him to tell me what he wanted to do…
since before the end of the previous year.
“At least think about it, okay?”
Knowing, of course, that he likely wouldn’t come up with an idea until late January.
But he was (finally) turning 30, so this one had to be special.
More special than any of the others before it.
Finally, a week before turning 30, he came home from work and laid it on me,
“I want to see the sunrise on the East Coast of Florida — and see it set on the Gulf Coast, all in one day.” I loved the idea, and loved that it was semi-reminiscent of the day I saw those damn dolphins in California.
As we started chatting about what the day might look like, it was decided we’d also stop off at EPCOT so he could see his mom, and we’d grab a pint at our favorite pub before completing a quick lap around the world.
From there, I took the reins on planning the rest of the weekend.
Sean had mentioned the Bilmar Beach Resort when he laid out his birthday wish, and so that was top of mind for me as we had previously stayed there and LOVED it – although when we talked about it, he said he had looked and it was pretty pricey that weekend. This is something we’re sort of used to as his birthday is just four days before Valentine’s Day and a lot of rates go up around then. But, I said I’d look to see what I could find.
He had also mentioned Cocoa Beach for our beginning destination, but when I looked at places there — I wasn’t super stoked about the prices or the room we’d be getting for them. I called quite a few places before I started traveling North. I knew whatever room I found, I wanted to surprise Sean with a balcony on the oceanfront so on Friday morning we could easily get up and watch the sunrise without having to get ready and find a spot on the beach itself.
Finally, I got to Daytona Beach. And as I was poking around the internet, I landed on a place we had randomly stayed at a few years prior for Sean’s 27th – Perry’s Ocean Edge. I got a little excited, knowing that we really enjoyed our stay there, gave them a call — and began to tell the woman on the other end of the line the adventure I was trying to plan. She found us a great deal in an oceanfront balcony and it was booked!
One down, one to go.
Next, I called The Bilmar…with my fingers crossed, hoping there was something within my budget. A voice on the Gulf picked up, and I went through the story of this 30th birthday adventure again. She *loved* what we were doing – we clicked instantly as this “Coast to Coast” adventure was something she and her husband had done previously – and she set out to find me the best rate.
She came back with a room in their tower over looking the ocean — but I thought I’d try to push my luck and also inquire about the rooms we stayed in previously, the ones that walked right out onto the beach, and so she went to check on those.
She gave me a price.
I sighed. Too much.
At least I tried.
There was a beat, then, “You said this was for his birthday right?” I heard the clickity-clack of the keyboard working furiously in the background.
“Yes, his 30th.”
“Hm, okay then…what if I gave you a free upgrade to that room since you’re also returning guests?”
A smile broke out on my face, “That’d be awesome! Thank you!”
“Annnd….I don’t know if this is too cheesy but…what if we put his name on the sign out front?”
I nearly jumped out of my chair, “YES!! We love cheese! I love this! THANK YOU! This is going to be so amazing — this really made my day!”
I booked the room and promised myself NOT to let my excitement ruin the surprise…because, that’s usually what happens. I only had to keep the secret for less than a week.
I could do that…right?
The day finally came, and I impatiently watched the clock dwindle down on Thursday afternoon.
Finally, our bags were loaded into the car, and, after dropping Kimber off, we were on the road — Sean slept most of the way out as he was battling the remnants of a head cold, but this actually helped me to cover up that we were headed to Daytona and not Cocoa.
We pulled up to Perry’s, “Remember this place?”
His eyes lit up, “YES!”
We reminisced about our last time there while we were checking in and bringing our luggage up to the room — Surprise #1 was about the unfold: he opened the door and looked out over the Atlantic Ocean with the sun setting behind us to the West – just 24 hours were between us and that coast – “Oceanfront room!!”
I patted myself on the back knowing I hadn’t slipped on any of my surprises yet.
From there, we wandered over to the same restaurant we had drinks at a few years ago, and sat down. The waitress walked over, “Hey Kiddos!” she chirped.
“Odd,” I thought…until I looked around and realized we were the youngest people in the bar by four decades, easily. “How’s the honeymoon going?” she continued.
I laughed, “Oh, it’s great, always is.”
Fun Fact: A few months into dating, we went on a road trip to Louisiana. On our way back, we stopped at a hotel in Tallahassee, where it was presumed by the hotel staff that we were honeymooning (do people honeymoon in Tallahassee?) and…well, we just played along with it because we found it so entertaining.
We’ve gotten this assumption a few times in five years.
No different on this night, I thought.
From there, we strolled back to the hotel room, and got changed to hit the indoor pool (or, more appropriately, the indoor hot tub because it was still Florida-Chilly down here — indoor or not, cold water is cold water.) We hung out here for a while before calling it a night — we had to be up early for sunrise, after all!
We barely needed an alarm to wake up the next morning, as we both had our eyes open before sunrise anyway. (#typical) Sean set up his GoPro to timelapse the sunrise, and then we waited inside for it to get closer to the moment the sun would pop up over the horizon. It was a blustery 48* out that morning — and neither of us had really prepared for colder weather.
Finally, huddled underneath any blanket we could find from inside – out on the balcony, we watched the sunrise.
After a little nap, and a stop at Perry’s breakfast area for some donuts — we packed up, grabbed some sand from the beach, took some photos, and started heading west.
We arrived at Disney around 11am, and met up with Sean’s sister Chelsea before heading over to see his mom and do our lap around EPCOT. We grabbed pre-noon pints at the Rose and Crown, and then completed our lap around the world, and by 2pm were back on the road continuing the journey towards the Gulf.
We made a quick stop at Subway for lunch, another pit stop at Walmart for bottled water, and then crossed the bridge with my target locked in for Treasure Island, FL. Every now and then I’d sneak reassuring peeks at the GPS just to ensure I was going the right way.
As we came to the end of the road leading us towards the edge of Florida, a few resorts were directly in front of us, and to the left of them…was The Bilmar. As we stopped at the red-light, I was hoping he wasn’t on to me…but the excitement was nearly too much for me.
Keep cool, Shimansky. Don’t even let a smile out or he’ll know…
The light turned green and we drove past the first entrance for The Bilmar.
On the second one, I turned in.
Surprise 2: Complete.
We checked-in, only to find out that The Bilmar had ALSO given us two free drinks to celebrate Sean’s birthday at their bar. Knowing I still had the surprise of the sign in my back pocket, I knew I had to get him back out front…but…wasn’t really sure HOW to do that without seeming like a weirdo.
We brought our stuff to the room — an incredible suite that walked right out on to the white sandy beaches — when Sean said he had to head back to the car for something. The car was conveniently parked underneath the sign we still needed to see!
“Well, let’s do that, then we can head to the bar before heading out to watch sunset…” I offered. Just as he opened the trunk of my car, I called it, “LOOK!”
He turned and saw his sign, “Whaaaaat?!”
Surprise 3: Unlocked!
“I’m outta Surprises, Moody!”
He looked so happy and bewildered (probably because I *ACTUALLY* kept all these surprises!) and I was so damn proud of myself for not blowing the whole thing.
The Gulf coast beaches are quite different than that of Florida’s Atlantic coast. Gulf Coast beaches may as well be deserts that nearly know no end — Sean suggested that we go out and find “a good spot” for sunset.
“What about here?”
I made a little stink face as the photographer in me kicked in, “Hm…No, this won’t work…not unless you want trash cans in your timelapse…”
He looked up at the trash cans and shook his head, “Good call…”
We wandered a bit further before finding the BEST spot — where we promptly marked it with an “x” (not really – but, that would’ve been cool if we had) — it was just close enough to the water, but still a distance from those who were walking the edge of where waves were sliding over the sand. (Gulf waves rarely “crash” like that of Atlantic Ocean waves.) and since we still had a solid hour to kill before we watched the sun sink, we decided to make the journey back up to the bar for our free drinks.
About halfway to the bar, I had said something about the hoodie tied around my waist making my shadow look like I was wearing a dress, which somehow lead to, “Y’know. We could just get married. We could just go to the courthouse and get married…”
It wasn’t an odd conversation for us to have…
He says he almost did it right then & there…but something told him to wait.
After our drinks, and a round of birthday shots, we made our way back out to that “perfect spot” — and I asked him if he was drunk (something I have not seen from this 6’4″ Irishdude in 5 years) and he laughed, “No, just being silly…this is the most relaxed I’ve been in a while.”
Relief washed over me. Followed immediately by happiness.
2016 wasn’t even remotely kind, and the past few months have been some of our hardest…hearing him say these words had an internal mini celebration of confetti canons galore going off inside of me. He’s relaxed.
Birthday Mission Complete.
Well, kind of. I didn’t realize there was ONE surprise left.
Finally we’re at our spot.
While he was setting up his GoPro, I was posting the photo of him and his birthday sign to Instagram. He sat down, and I showed him the post, telling him, “Before dinner I want to post these to Facebook, then before bed I’ll post our sunset photos too…”
That did not happen, because THIS did. 😱
He smiles, knowing I had been documenting the whole day and had wanted to capture it all on Instagram Stories so we could have the video from our adventure (which is less typical than you think, people who are about to crucify me for posting to social on an adventurous day such as this, but I like to think I’m fairly savvy at doing it quickly and not letting it control the day – also, I kinda like to think of these as little “gifts” to people I love too…so, there’s that. #KeepYour2CentsToYourselfThanks) — and says, “Okay.” I put the phone down, and as he’s talking about what a great day this has been and how there’s “just one more thing that would make it better…”
I do two things in order to get closer to Sean:
1. I go to move my Surface that’s on the beach as an iPhone charging station so I can ensure my phone won’t die as I’m taking sunset pictures, and 2. I MOVE THE RING BOX. 😳
And before I can even realize that the thing I have never seen before in my life that I just moved was a RING BOX…
He’s on his knee, asking me a question. 💍
I don’t really remember what else he said, at all, save for this ring being just like me –
unique, and one of a kind.
Every other memory of this moment belongs to the massive black out of 2017.
But I said, “Yes!”
And I guess that’s all that matters, right? 😉
Although, between you, me, and the internet…I still panic about how this massive moment in our lives is just entirely gone from my memory. I wish I could go back and pull a Leslie Knope. Literally.
I just never even thought this day would be that day. Ever.
The rest of the night was spent celebrating with Michael and Erin, friends who had come out to celebrate Sean’s birthday with dinner and drinks — and, thus — got caught up in engagement celebrations too.
The next morning we wandered The Bilmar, sat out on the beach, grabbed some sand from the Gulf coast shores, and then sloooowly made our way back to Orlando (where I threw a tantrum in the car because the video I made to send to family and friends letting them know we were ENGAGED…wasn’t saving right.) When we got home, we napped – face first – in to the pillows. I finally got that dang video to save, we let the world know…and then we went over to my parents where Tomasino’s pizza and a rather excited family was all waiting for us.
The following day, Sean’s birthday celebration at Red Cypress Brewery was also hijacked by engagement celebrations as family and friends came out to celebrate with delicious brews and lots of laughs – just the way we like it.
Wonder if he gave any thought to giving up his birthday like this? 😜
ABOUT THAT RING, Though.
I know, I know.
What you REALLY want to hear about is…
So, I will tell you.
Nearly four years ago, I told Sean, “No diamonds, No gold.”
And people think this sounds really amazing — and it does.
But it ALSO opens up the doors to literally EVERY.OTHER.KIND. of ring under the sun.
After I lost the ring my dad had given me, a lot of what I had been looking at or wanted — mimicked that ring.
And, so, that’s what Sean had in mind when he was searching.
But he also wanted something a little different too.
We were supposed to get engaged back in August.
When we took Kimber on Pupcation to St. Augustine.
With that ring I said, “You could propose with this and I’d be happy.”
But, even after paying for expedited shipping…
the RING *NEVER* SHOWED.
Well, it showed…just…a day after we left.
Sean’s dad said he would drive it up to him,
but Sean decided that there was too much going on that weekend.
He’d just find another time.
And, when he got home and saw the ring…
He just felt this wasn’t quite “the one.”
Around that same time, Sean had ordered another ring.
A purple one, with a wooden band, that reminded him of this superhero haired woman he was about to ask to marry him.
But, when he got that one…he still wasn’t sure.
(do you see a bit of a theme here?)
Just before Christmas, he saw a ring called the Aurora Borealis.
Made by the same company as the purple superhero ring.
Filled with blues and greens – and, yes, even a tiny little city.
But, when this one came…he still wasn’t sure.
Until he took it outside just before his birthday weekend…
and saw it in the sunlight. ☀️
He STILL wasn’t sure that THIS was the weekend he’d propose…
I’m still not quite sure when that moment struck him.
But, either way, it did.
Maybe that Bilmar sign was extra lucky? 🍀
As luck would have it, however…the ring didn’t quite fit.
In fact, none of the rings fit…because…apparently I am no longer a size 8.
This is what happens when you have a tantrum throwing thyroid…and you lose a ton of weight just before your b̶o̶y̶f̶r̶i̶e̶n̶d̶ fiancée proposes. The rings I wore previously on that finger were 8s…I had, in fact, randomly measured them just before Christmas…but, also…both were nearing a decade of wear…so, who knows…maybe that’s what kept them on there after my fingers went on a diet.
I refused to send the Aurora Borealis in for resizing because…they basically just send you an entirely new ring. And I couldn’t handle that. Because of the TINY CITY inside…which, no isn’t New York, and – no, isn’t Orlando. But if I hadn’t told you…you’d never know. So let’s pretend they’re a little of both. 😜
“It looks like a little city in there!” is one of the first things I said too…and I LOVED that it somehow, without even intending to do so, combined my love for New York and Florida with the skyline inside meeting those oceany blues and greens — AND of the City Skyline Adventures that Sean and I have had…
And…a few weeks later we’d learn that…
I was actually allergic to the wood of the Aurora Borealis.
WHO THE FREAK IS ALLERGIC TO WOOD FROM AFRICA?!
Me. It’s me. 😫 I should be put in a bubble.
So…what am I currently wearing?
It’s the first ring.
The one that showed up late.
The one I said, “You could propose with this and I’d be happy…”
The one his dad nearly drove up to us on a Saturday in St. Augustine.
And…it’s on my middle finger because it will absolutely, without question, slip off my skinny ring finger. And I just can’t bear to lose another ring to a parking lot or random ass field.
Plus, I’m fairly sure Kimber would eat it if she found it. 😂
BUT! Don’t worry.
And you’ll have to follow me a bit on this one…
But, a while back…I had gotten an arrow ring to match an arrow necklace I’ve had for a while. The same arrow necklace that Black Widow wears in Captain America: Winter Soldier as a hat tip to Hawkeye (one of Sean’s favorite characters). And, in some sort of geek related tangent, it also works because we’re completely hooked on CW’s Arrow. So, this arrow ring is actually on my ring finger, pointing to the first ring on my middle finger.
Will anyone understand that outside of us and those who read this blog?
Nope, not a chance.
Do I care?
Not for a second.
In truth, this getting married stuff is never really about the rings…
Annnnnnd, this is our life.
And the insanity of it all…well, it just kind of perfectly fits.
Dude would’ve just had it easier if I had been like every other girl who just wanted a damn diamond. 😶
But, then. That just wouldn’t be very “us” now would it…
After taking a few photos, and FaceTiming family (which is what you see a lot of at the end of THIS adorable video made from Sean’s Timelapse of the proposal) we headed back towards our room to get ready to go to dinner…
When I stopped nearly at the same place I had, just hours before this one, said, “We could just go to the courthouse and get married…” Where he almost asked me to marry him the first time…where it suddenly dawned on me…
“Oh crap, now we need to actually PLAN a wedding. I’ve just been THROWING out IDEAS for the past 4.5 years!!” 😂 So, I guess we’ll be telling you a little bit of that journey now on this blog too.
PS: NO we STILL don’t have a date. 😜
PPS: Seriously, go read the Things You Need to Know First.