One Friday night in early September, Robby and I were hanging out at his downtown L.A. loft/bachelor pad/man cave, drinking wine and having a perfectly nice time, when the subject of moving in together came up. Again. Ugh.
We had been dating for three months when it came up the first time. I told him then that even though I was unconventional in a lot of ways, I was actually quite old-fashioned when it came to living together. As a single person all of her life, I’m as free-spirited and independent as they come. But when it comes to cohabitating without being married, I am weirdly traditional.
I didn’t wait fifty years just to play house with someone. I made a decision a while ago that I wouldn’t uproot my life, give up my adorable apartment, and shack up without a firm commitment. As much as I’d love to live with Robby, I knew I’d need to be engaged first.
On this Friday night – now six months into our relationship – the topic came up, and again, I stayed firm in my position. I was sticking to my guns – even though my heart was in my throat and I was sweating bullets.
I was shitting bricks because many a relationship had ended over this exact subject: getting serious. It always seemed to be a deal breaker. Someone invariably wasn’t ready, and most always, someone’s heart got broken.
So I took a deep breath and told him how nervous I was. I told him about the past boyfriends and break-ups and the post-traumatic relationship stress I had because of it (Hey, you don’t get to this age without having some dating battle scars, right?) I bared my soul and choked out the words as he held my hand. What I was saying in so many words was, “Dude, you’re gonna have to put a ring on it.”
I gulped, then took a huge gulp of wine and waited for him to break-up with me.
“Can you excuse me for a second?” he asked getting up from the couch. I thought to myself, right in the middle of this intense conversation, you have to pee? Instead of going to the bathroom, he went over to the office area of his loft a few feet behind me and began rummaging through what sounded like a disposable grocery bag. I couldn’t see him; I could only hear the crinkling sounds of him searching for something. This went on for minutes. I finished my wine and rolled my eyes.
“What are you doing over there?” I asked curiously. “None of your beeswax,” he replied. More minutes went by, more rummaging.
Finally, he returned, sat down on the edge and asked me to close my eyes. He reached for my right hand. I had some small feeling what was coming next.
“Wrong hand, you nut.” (Remember, Robby’s never been married either, nor has he ever proposed to anyone, so how would he know what to do?).
I kept my eyes closed and gave him my left hand. I felt him slip something on my finger. My first thought was, oh how cute! He got me a Cracker Jack ring as a placeholder for the real thing! Robby goes to a lot of conventions as part of his job, so I figured the ring was in a bag of convention crap he brought home from his last trip.
“Okay, open your eyes.” I did, and saw him kneeling down on one knee. I looked at him, at my finger, then at him again, totally bewildered. This was no plastic Cracker Jack ring.
“Treva Brandon, will you marry me?” This is when things got really confusing. Either I didn’t hear him, didn’t believe him, or didn’t understand English for a second.
“Will you marry me,” he repeated with the most loving and sincere look I’ve ever seen on a man’s face.
I looked around the room. “Am I on Candid Camera or something? Am I being Punk’d?”
I stared at this beautiful ring. From what I could tell, it was an antique, perhaps an heirloom, with a good size diamond in the middle of a very delicate vintage setting.
“It was my mother’s.” The ring, he explained, was in a bag of belongings he was given after she passed away a few years ago. It wasn’t wrapped; it wasn’t tied up with a bow; it was just among some of her personal treasures. I touched the diamond – it was slightly loose and needed to be reset for sure. I held it out in front of me, stared at it for a long time. It got quiet. I’ve never had an engagement ring before.
“Get the fuck out of here. Are you serious?!”
I looked around his man cave – at his comfy leather couch, at his bachelor-size big screen TV and his beloved collection of records – not exactly the scene you envision for a marriage proposal, but it was authentic and real and spontaneous – just like Robby himself. Still, I wondered.
“Isn’t this supposed to happen on a beach at sunset, or over a romantic candlelight dinner like in the movies?”
He looked at me deeply and smiled. “I didn’t want you to go another minute thinking I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
And just like that, with no fanfare, no big production, no Hollywood-style scenery, but every bit romantic, he put a ring on it. And I said yes, a resounding, long-time-waited YES!
We drank, we cried, we called our parents, and I exhaled.