Now for Anish’s side of the story…
“ANISH!!” Taylor screamed as I swerved across three lanes and came to a sudden stop on the side of Van Ness Avenue. The clock ticked on to 5am as the sounds of the sleepy city were drowned out by my racing heart.
“What the heck are you doing?” She asked as I unbuckled my seatbelt.
“Need to double check and make sure I brought the GoPro,” I mumbled as I jumped out of the car onto San Francisco’s busiest road, heading towards the trunk. Months of planning would be down the drain if I got on the plane without it. Not the GoPro (new camera) I claimed to be checking on, but the little box that would help me pledge my life to her.
The day before, Saturday, had been absolute chaos for me and complete calm for Taylor. I was planning to go completely offline for an entire week for the first time in… well, since I met the Internet.
So at the crack of dawn I began a mad sprint to get all my work done so I could get out of the house around 11am to run some “errands.”
I sure as heck wasn’t about to say, “Hey I need to run to the Tiffany’s store to pick up the ring I bought for you. The one that’s been sitting in the vault for weeks because I’ve been too scared to bring it home.” (Let’s be honest, we all know her
nosey curious little butt would have found it in 10 minutes flat.)
That would have been a dead giveaway, so instead I went with, “Tay, why don’t you hang out and have a relaxed day at home and do a little leisurely packing. I’m going to grab a car and go hunting for some new swim shorts.” That seemed believable, right?
The day apart had been perfect. I had been able to make all of my phone calls to reconfirm plans, spent an hour with the awesome ladies at the store in Union Square (now great buddies of mine given the countless hours I had spent with them over the past few months) getting things organized, and picked up some of the other things I needed before we left.
Oh and yea, I periodically popped into a clothing store, grabbed a pair of swim shorts (along with shirts, flip flops, etc as the day progressed), snapped a picture in the dressing room and asked for her opinion! You know…to keep her off the scent.
Seven hours later, I pulled up in-front of our apartment contemplating how to get the ring into the apartment unseen.
Tay called just as I was pulling up and asked me to stay put and not park the car so that I could take her to Target to grab some last minute stuff.
I was sitting in a completely empty rental car. There was a grand total of zero places I could hide the obscenely recognizable blue bag without a high-probability of it being found. No place under the seat. No place to hide it in the back seat. And a trunk that would likely be opened to put our Target bags in… And now she was about sixty seconds away from stepping out of the front door!
I looked through the passenger window and saw her walking up to the front door.
I opened my door, slipped the bag through the opening and laid it outside on the road just as she opened the passenger door and slipped in. I gave her a quick kiss and jumped out. “I’m going to run upstairs to go to the bathroom before we head out.” I swept up the bag and ran to the apartment trying to keep my body in between the bag and her eyes the entire time.
Whew! Close call.
Which brings us back to 5am on Sunday morning, double parked on the side of Van Ness Avenue with me digging through my suitcase in the pitch black night.
There it was, my incredibly out of place ski-socks (that were en route to a tropical beach). Exactly where I put it. The little box hidden in a ball of wool.
I double tapped the little coin pocket in my jeans. Yup, the ring is still there, on my person. The only place it felt safe.
I had checked both about a hundred times but in a moment of panic had to check for the 101 time before we were too far from home. Boy, would it suck to lose the little guy.
Onward. To the airport.
It was starting to feel very real.
Months of planning had finally given way to my beautiful lady’s’ hand interlocked with mine with our suitcase in the other as we walked slowly to the security line at the airport. Now, I just needed to get through TSA without setting off the metal detector.
No big deal right?
Well, I had been having nightmares for weeks after I stumbled on a YouTube video of a TSA agent picking out a guy for extra screening and opening his suitcase to do a visual search. The agent had picked up what was *very clearly* an engagement ring box and asked him what it was. Oh and yea, his girlfriend was standing right next to him. I’m sweating just thinking about that again.
My hand subconsciously reached back down to my pocket, tracing its shape with my fingers. It’s still there. But I would now have to very reluctantly part with it, my own, my precious… for just a few minutes.
“Tay, I’m going to pop into the bathroom before we go through security.”
I pulled the ring out, slipped it into a little pouch and tucked it away into my backpack as quickly as I could. I wrapped my arms around it and walked back out.
Suddenly I felt a feeling of uneasiness settle over me. In that moment no one on this planet could relate to Frodo more than I could.
The boarding gate, my Mount Doom. The metal detectors, my Mordor.
“Ma’am, Sir, please place your backpacks on the conveyor belt. Make sure there is nothing in your pockets.” Yea, thanks buddy. There’s nothing in my pockets. But that could be the reason I have a heart attack!
I smiled at Tay, calm on the outside, a wreck on the inside. And then locked my eyes back on the conveyor belt as my backpack disappeared out of sight.
There it was, my backpack waiting for me. Unstolen. I grabbed it and threw my shoes back on.
“Jeez, I have no idea whats going on with my bladder today. Bathroom again. Back in a few.”
“What? Again? Anish!”
As soon as I walked in, I reached into my backpack and pulled it out with a huge sigh of relief. My precious! And in that moment saw how ridiculous I looked in the mirror and laughed. My childhood Lord of the Rings obsession aside, my real precious was standing outside waiting for me. And she was probably pretty annoyed right about now.
As I walked back outside towards her with huge grin on my face and the ring back in my pocket where it belonged, I remember chuckling to myself and thinking, Well, I’ve been to the bathroom twice now without actually going. I hope I don’t have to actually pee anytime soon.