Us: our engagement story!

posted on: Sunday, February 8, 2015

In honor of our little three-month wedding anniversary today I wanted to share our engagement tale here. Ya'll - this one is as good as it gets. 

Let me set the stage: imagine a six stitches in a big toe, a blue surgical glove, a rubber raft and a caribbean island....

Captain Cody. I had wondered why he was so smiley on that memorable boat outing...
Where it happened:

We had come to St. John in the US Virgin Islands to be teachers/camp counselors to a group of local kiddos on the south-east end of the island, the less touristy area. The 31 days we were to spend there would be like the shifting Caribbean Sea around it. We lived in eco-tents free of charge as payment for our work, watching lizards leap from the rafters during the day, and slept under mosquito nets at night to avoid getting Denge fever, but it was a BEAUTIFUL place with lovely people.

We'd begun helping one of my graduate school professors there with her film on the invasive Lionfish that is destroying reef ecosystems by eating young fish. After our last day of filming, we headed up to celebrate the succesful shoot with her and the cameraman at a local bar, when we got swamped by a wave of misfortune...

Trunk Bay, our engagement spot...not bad! We were right were those people in that little boat are in the bottom left. Photo by me.
While climbing the rustic stone steps outside the bar, my waterlogged cheap sandal bent under and my big toe caught on the next step - on a large, broken seashell worked into the cement. Six stitches and one prescription for Vicodin later, I was making my way across a rugged, mountainous island on crutches for the rest of our last week there. Devastation.

Cody had wanted to rent a dinghy (a life raft with a motor) to tour the famous north shore the day of the accident, which we obviously canceled after my incident. With strict instructions to stay out of the water should I get a staph infection, trips in small bouncy boats were out.

How it happened anyway:

Cody seemed oddly determined that we should have a boat outing. Defying my protests of getting my foot wet, he reserved a cute little boat the day before we were leaving St. John. With a blue plastic surgical glove tied around my injured foot with my sneaker string holding it on, we set off.
There was beautiful smooth sailing, at first. We hadn't been out of the tents in a week and it was such a relief to see the Caribbean blue sea and green islands and to feel wind. We had PB & Js on a quiet beach, then realized we had only 30 minutes left in our 3 hour trip. We hadn't even made it to Trunk Bay yet! The second most beautiful beach on Earth!!

But our boat renter had failed to tell Cody how to restart our outboard motor after turning it off or how to lower it. Ignoring his desert upbringing, he bravely attempted to get us going, but we only made it after some sympathetic snorkelers came to the rescue.

Trunk Bay was right around the next point, but as the little boat churned toward the bend, the sky clouded and the wind picked up, pulling the waves along with it. With the dinghy bouncing along and sometimes catching air, I was getting soaked and mad! What if sea water got in my foot-glove?? I knew us going out on the water with me in my fragile state was a bad idea. I demanded we turn around and head back.

Cody shouted over the motor and water, "We're so close! Let's see Trunk one last time!!" There wasn't a way for me to get over to the motor and change our direction, not that I'd know what to do with it (not all Louisiana people are born seaworthy either), so I just held on and glared at Cody through dripping sunglasses. We bounced into the World's Second Most Beautiful Bay a hot mess. Cody cut the engine and we drifted, seeing the beach from the floating seabird's point of view. I kid you not on the next part - the clouds parted, the sun came out, and Cody said: "Can you give me my pants?" (He was wearing swim trunks Mom!).

Of course I wanted to know why, to which I was told, "You know why." That's when my heartbeat started speeding up and I finally got a clue. I handed over those pants.

He pulled a small jewelry pouch out of the pocket and held it close.

I felt that we were in a bubble on the ocean, there isn't a sound I remember, only calm. After reminding me that he had once told me he wanted to propose on a boat, and that life together was going to be an awesome adventure no matter where we live or what we do as long as we did it together, he pulled out a white gold wedding band, his great-grandmother's who shared a deep, deep love and devotion with her family - and asked me to marry him. With hardly any wind left in me, I managed to get out yes, and he nobly kneeled in the boat to put the ring on my finger. He also mentioned that his great-grandmother's actual engagement ring was waiting for me in El Paso for Christmas, but had been too risky to mail from Texas.
We had been living in eco-tents for 30 days, just a little rough but so HAPPY!
After shouting to the beach and the birds that we were getting married, we blasted back to Cruz Bay in a haze, narrowly missing the 5 o'clock ferry that was pulling out for St. Thomas (or rather, the ferry narrowly missing us in our little boat!). 

So our engagement story, and likely the rest of our lives, is as dynamic as the sea itself. There is rarely reliable and smooth sailing, and you are always navigating crests and troughs. We know our marriage and lives will depend solely on understanding that it is created by God, and that he has brought us together for his purposes. We are overjoyed to be starting on this new adventure!
Getting the actual engagement ring in El Paso. So beautiful and full of history!


  1. I loved reading your engagement story! Thanks a lot for sharing all photos here. I am going to attend an intimate wedding of my sister and her fiancé at one of iconic outdoor wedding venues Chicago. Very excited for their big day!


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