It’s fascinating to rewind back the time and see where life took you in the last year, five years, or ten years, because it usually takes you where you least expect it to go. If a psychic stopped me on the way to my first date with Michael on May 16, 2011 and told me that five years from then I would buy a house with this man I was about to meet, who would perplexingly be wearing white pants and a blue peacoat in the balmy L.A. weather, accumulate cats at an alarming rate, and that he would then propose to me on top of the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina’s Patagonia while wearing crampons, I would have laughed off such a far-fetched prediction. What would have seemed utterly strange five years ago is reality today.
I would love to tell you that I have a vivid memory of how Michael proposed to me. That I heard and retained it all to be able to regale my friends and family with the story. But it’s me we’re talking about so clearly that is not the case. Looking down on my ring finger after we got off the glacier, I smiled blankly at Michael and asked him, “Can you tell me how you proposed again?” Because at the top of the 240 foot tall Perito Moreno glacier, navigating the ice with crampons strapped to my wobbly feet, balancing the celebratory glass of whiskey made with ice freshly chiseled off the side of the glacier in one hand and the ring in the other, all my mental energy was exhausted on keeping myself upright.
I’m not what you would call an adventurous sort. I usually have trouble balancing on even ground and regularly trip over my own feet. So when you plop me on the side of a mountain or glacier, or any uneven surface for that matter, my odds of maiming myself quadruple. All of my mental energy goes to concentrating on walking/crawling up whatever slope I’m faced with. Add to this already sad state of affairs my fear of heights and predilection for panic attacks, and voila, you have an unstable woman, both physically and mentally.
But I must have a marginally-brave midget somewhere inside me prodding me to explore the world and try new things and take some small risks and nudge myself out of my comfort zone because I find myself proposing activities that I know would set off my anxiety. My anxiety threshold is basically non-existent so it doesn’t take much to set it off. Activities outside of my comfort zone do not include something truly wild, like sky diving, which I would never do because I’m sure I would die of an anxiety-induced heart attack while still on the ground, but activities such as helmet diving, hiking up Huayna Picchu or a glacier, driving twenty miles above the speed limit, or running to the grocery store without a bra.
And that brings us to me giving myself a pep talk before we begin our hike up the side of the Perito Moreno glacier, as our glacier guide explains how to walk with crampons on, which he pronounces as “grandpas”. Which produces hyena-like chortling from me every time I hear him say things like “Ok, everyone, let’s get our grandpas on.” And “Who needs grandpas on their feet?” And “Anxious woman, do you need help with your grandpas?”
As our group of 25 strap on their crampons and start the hour-and-a-half-long trek, I zone into my deer-in-headlights phase where I hear nothing, see nothing, and retain nothing as I mentally recite to myself “Keep your feet wide apart so you don’t trip over your crampons and hurtle down to your death. Stick your crampons firmly into the ice path so you don’t slip and hurtle down to your death. Do not walk sideways on your way down or you will twist your ankle and then hurtle down to your death.” If you want a great ass workout, get your crampons on. The right way to descend is to get in a seated position, lean back, and stick your crampons firmly in the ice ahead of you as you squat your way down the glacier.
By the time we reached the end of our hike, my legs were linguini and I was ready for a nap. That’s when Michael asked me how long we’ve been together. I looked at him in my addled state trying to siphon off some of my mental energy from battling my anxiety to understanding what he was asking and why he was asking it. And then he hits me with “I don’t want to be your boyfriend anymore.” That’s certainly one way to start a proposal. At this point, linguini legs have morphed into mashed potatoes and it took all my energy to remain standing upright.
“The past five years have been the best years of my life. And now I don’t want to be your boyfriend anymore. I want to be your husband. Will you marry me?”