July , 2015. Sanjay came to pick me up from my Waveband apartment to take me to Casablanca, playing outside in Oz Park. He carried a blanket and an umbrella and we walked 2.5 miles down Clark street to Webster to Oz Park. We stopped for Oberon’s and skinny pop on the way. We sat cross-legged on his blanket near the back and talked throughout the whole movie. We stayed long after it was over, and we never touched the skinny pop. We shared our testimonies and idols and both were thinking the same thing but didn’t say it.
January 4, 2016. Sanjay told me Friday was a surprise date, and hinted that other people might be wearing red. I put two and two together and realized the surprise was a Blackhawk’s game at the United Center.
“Oh I can borrow a Blackhawk’s shirt from my roommate!”
“Eh, don’t wear a Blackhawks shirt…”
January 8, 2016. Sanjay came to pick me up from my Sheridan apartment to take me to Summerhouse before the game. He carried his hat and an umbrella and we walked 1 mile down Clark street to Webster to cut through Oz Park. We stopped at the scarecrow statue.
“This is where we met for small group. I love the scarecrow. Did you know he is the one missing a brain. I probably most identify with the scarecrow.”
“Yea, you’re the scarecrow.”
“Sanjay! You’re agreeing I don’t have a brain?”
Poor Sanjay. I was talking about Wizard of Oz characters as he was trying to transition into getting on one knee.
“So Morg, you never asked how I got the Blackhawk’s tickets.”
“How did you get the tickets?”
“Funny thing about the tickets, there are no tickets.”
And then he set his umbrella down and got down on one knee. In Oz park. In front of the scarecrow. I don’t remember exactly what he said as he looked up at me with his brown eyes and big heart. Then, he pulled a ring box out of his hat. There is no way there is a ring in that ring box. It has to be empty. There was a beautiful and shiny rose gold ring in the ring box. And I said yes to marrying the most wonderful man I know. Smiles and hugs and kisses and gasps and pure joy.
“Does my mom know?”, I asked, as he smiled and walked me a few steps off the path to see my mom sticking out from my behind a tree. She had driven down from Traverse City to stand in the cold for 40 minutes and take pictures of the entire proposal. We cried happy tears as we saw each other.
“Do your parents know?” “No comment…” he said.
We walked around and took pictures throughout the park and then went to Taco Joint for margaritas before our celebratory dinner at Sappori. His wonderful parents were already there, but there were three open seats. Who else was coming?
Around dessert time, Monica comes around the corner for a hug, then Danielle, then EMILY. Michigan Emily. Twinner Emily. MOH Emily. She came all the way from Grand Rapids to celebrate. We shared dessert and looked at my ring and my heart was more full than normal.
“Let’s go grab a drink with your friends at Zella’s”
“Good idea S! Zella’s! Guys, we met at Zella’s and we are going to take you there!”.
We walk into an empty-ish bar to see a closed curtain to the backroom.
“Is there a private party?”
“Yes, an engagement party.”
“Emily we can’t go back there, its a private party.”
Danielle said “Let’s just peak.”
There’s no way this is a party for us. There is no way.
Paul pulls back the curtain and everyone claps and I melt into my fiancé (right near where we first met). We spent the evening telling stories, lots of hugs, lots of ring-showing. Then everyone left and Sanjay and I sat on the couch by the fireplace and just reflected on this special day.
We’re engaged. Engaged! So thankful, so grateful.
Sanjay Ahluwalia, I love you, my future husband.