Today we have another link-up event with my blogging group. Lisa at My So Called Glamorous Life cleverly gave us the prompt, “the song that reminds me of the time I . . . .” It is a great prompt (Thanks Lisa!). Immediately after reading it I started hearing the sounds of Hotel California in my head and remembering the day I got engaged.
It was September of 1995. My husband, then boyfriend, and I had been dating for a couple of years and talk of marriage had gotten serious between us. I was visiting him for the weekend during a period when we were normally separated by the Appalachian mountains and a couple of states. I had driven east to come to see him because it was his birthday.
I could tell right off that this was going to be no ordinary day. And not just because it was the day my boy turned 22. Yes, Taylor. Instead of seeing it as a perfect day to dress up like hipsters and make fun of our exes, my boy decided it was a perfect day to get engaged. So he set about doing just that. Making it perfect.
He informed me that morning we would be going to a nearby park and having a picnic. He spent about an half an hour putting various items in an actual picnic basket and then drove us to Maymont park. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of visiting Maymont park in Richmond, VA, you have missed a real treat. This place is 100 acres of gorgeous garden splendor. We began our outing by walking to the Italian gardens to have our picnic. As we were eating we realized that people were gathering with a purpose and that we were about to become a part of a wedding. (skip the wait and join in shall we? Oh wait, no, I haven’t asked you yet.) Out of respect for the wedding party we packed up and moved along.
It was a ridiculously pretty fall day, so the park was brimming with people. Every place we explored was dotted with families playing and couples lounging. We moved along to the Japanese Gardens and watched the koi swim. But my boy was restless. He wanted to keep moving. He took me to the river bank where boys were skipping stones and even to the petting zoo. But nowhere did he seem content to sit down and get to business.
I just smiled and hiked along all the while wondering what in the world he was waiting for and when he was going to take that square shaped lump out of his back pocket. But he didn’t take it out. We just kept walking all over those 100 acres until hours had passed and my feet were sore. Finally out of exhaustion we started walking back to the car.
Then just before we got to the parking lot we crossed a grassy field and he asked me if I would like to sit down and rest for a while. I immediately said yes. I was kind of tired, but truth be told I was pretty much going to say yes to whatever question he asked me that day. We watched some kids playing soccer nearby. He would later tell me that he was struggling and frustrated as he kept waiting for the perfect moment to pop the question. He had walked me all over the park looking for some secluded romantic spot where the sun would open up on us and he could ask me triumphantly to marry him.
But the perfect moment never came. Instead, the opening strains of the Eagle’s “Hotel California” floated over us from the parking lot. With a somewhat resigned look on his face he turned to me and said there was something he wanted to ask me. I told him that if there was something he wanted to ask, then I thought he should just go ahead and ask away. He paused for a while as if searching for the right words but not finding them. I realized in that moment that this boy I loved in part for his beautiful writing and eloquent speech was actually speechless. Finally he simply said, “Will you marry me?”
It was one of the most precious moments of my life. Right there with the speechless boy who had walked around all day with a lump in his back pocket, the laughing soccer boys, and Hotel California. And it was precious in part because it was such a true moment.
For Life is Never Perfect.
But then again the imperfect is sometimes so amazing that it seems perfect to us.
I said yes, of course. Just that, “Yes.” We kissed a little while Don Henley sang about pink champagne on ice. And then a light rain began to fall while that lump finally came out of my boy’s back pocket to reveal this simple, beautiful ring that I still wear today.
So whenever I hear “Hotel California”, I smile as I remember that beautifully imperfect moment. And the beautifully imperfect 18 years that have followed with my love. For Taylor was right about one thing. Imperfect as it is, it will be alright if I stay next to you. Even though we are waaaayy past 22.
Uh oh, looks like I have a new song memory.
You can read more blog posts about song memories over at Lisa’s My So Called Glamorous Life.