Last week, Etan and I went up a mountain, and came down engaged.
I got to tag along with Etan on his work trip to Colorado, where he was working at the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest interviewing bands, running a session at the Song School, judging a songwriting competition, and generally pimping ASCAP. We had the first few days to ourselves, except that he kept playing phone tag with Ryan Tedder’s management to schedule an interview for the ASCAP blog. Or so he said…
Wednesday morning Etan got up early to go interview Ryan Tedder, then pick up some sandwiches for our hike to Lake Isabelle. Instead, he went to Marczyk Fine Foods to plot his proposal. Etan was so worried that I would ask for photographic evidence of his interview that he asked one of the Marczyk employees to get out of his uniform, put on one of Etan’s shirts, and pose as Ryan Tedder:
A for effort, but of course, I didn’t ask to see it.
It was a long drive up to the almost 11,000 ft. elevation trailhead, and by the time we got up to beautiful Brainard Lake at the beginning of our hike to Lake Isabelle, I was famished and begged Etan, couldn’t we just eat our sandwiches now and then hike? He agreed; I think it helped that it was sufficiently beautiful there.
We sat beside this gorgeous lake, and Etan handed me my Marczyk ham & brie sandwich, which I unwrapped to see the last page from my favorite book, James Joyce’s Ulysses, with the last line (“…yes I said yes I will Yes.” – my favorite in the book) highlighted:
I thought to myself, “Oh my god, is this happening?” and I looked up at Etan for confirmation. And he just looked at me, smiling, but didn’t say anything. I waited a few beats. Nothing. So I dug into my sandwich (I was pretty hungry, after all). I thought to myself, “Don’t jump to conclusions. He was just doing something sweet.” He handed me another package wrapped in butcher paper. “This is dessert.” Meanwhile he pulled some papers out of his pocket, full of typed notes about the things he’d have to do at the Folks Fest, printed on the back of some grammar worksheets from Learning Ally, where we volunteer together every Saturday. Etan said, “I should probably look over these notes before tomorrow,” but then flipped over the page to the printed side.
Often when it’s just the two of us, passing the time, say, in a bar or something, we’ll point to a sign and make anagrams out of it, because we are just about as nerdy as two people can get. He pointed to the phrase “GRAMMAR ENEMY” at the top of the sheet and said, “Let’s do this one.”
“Ooh I see MEGAN in there!”
“Oh, really?” He smiled.
“Yeah!!” I stared at the sheet, rearranging the letters in my mind, while absentmindedly unwrapping the “dessert.” As I realized I was actually looking at my engagement ring, he said…
“Oh! I’ve got one: MARRY ME MEGAN.”
The ring was wrapped in a picture he took of the marquee at our neighborhood bar Mohawk Bend, on the long-awaited day that it opened:
Etan knew that I have small hands and wouldn’t want some giant Kardashian rock, and that I like vintage style things, so he chose a beautiful art deco design. As he would later explain to me, the main stone originally belonged to his great-grandmother’s sister, who passed it down through a few generations. Etan had also sold a brooch that his grandfather had given to his grandmother to help pay for the ring. This was an especially meaningful connection to me. Though I never got to meet Etan’s grandfather, Etan told me about him on our first date. His grandfather was a urologist, so I did a Pubmed search and found an article that he had written. Etan sent it to his parents, who said I happened to send it around the time of his yahrzeit, which commemorates the anniversary of a death in the Jewish tradition. The fact that this ring has so much family history to it makes me love it even more.
We continued on our hike to the gorgeous Lake Isabelle, which was maybe the prettiest trail I’ve ever hiked. It was also the first time we’ve been in snow together, so we got to throw snowballs at each other while wearing shorts, watching raging rivers cut through melting glaciers…
We eventually made our way back to the car, where Etan put on a mix CD of songs about marriage, some beautiful and poignant, some hilarious (Gangsta Wife was a highlight…), and drove down to Left Hand Brewery (get it, left hand?) where we had our delicious engagement beers for free.
The rest of our time in Colorado was so fun and relaxing. The festival grounds were just gorgeous, and we got to hang out backstage with our lovely friend Lindsay and all the artists at the festival, feet in the river, listening to great music.
As an example of the kind of good ol’ mountain fun we were having, one night we went to one of the Oskar Blues Brewery locations, and there was a guy with a guitar doing covers. I thought “Ehhh this is going to be annoying.” But everyone in the bar was super into it, singing and clapping along…I leaned into the bartender and asked, “It is 8pm, right?” He said, “That’s the way we do things around here.” The singer said he wanted to dedicate something to the couple at the end of the bar, and the old hippie next to us shouted, “They just got engaged!” so the singer handed me a tambourine, which I shook while he sung “Some Kind of Wonderful” with our names in it. Then they forced us to get up and stand next to him for another song. I played shaker, and Etan killed it on cowbell. Most of our time in Colorado was like this scene, just blissful, relaxing fun. The last thing we got to see at the festival, fittingly, was The Civil Wars performing their lovely cover of “Disarm” by The Smashing Pumpkins, my all-time favorite band since I was a kid.
We got back to L.A. late last night, exhausted and happy. Etan’s parents met us at the airport with roses.
Looking forward to celebrating with you all sooner or later. We’re hoping to do some sort of engagement party in Philadelphia when we’re there for Christmas.
All our love,
Megan and Etan