It was a dark and stormy night……..Oh wait that's not the right story, let me start again.

First let me set the stage. This is written from my (Mark's) perspective. Well, first of all at the time of this event Nina and I had been together for over 3 years. On several different occasions we had talked about where our lives were headed. We discussed getting married in the future. To say the least Nina's idea of the future was a lot closer to the present than mine. Secondly, with Nina being the planner that she is it is sometimes hard to surprise her, although I have learned and I am getting better at it.

And now on to the story…

The story begins a couple of months before the date of our engagement. I had mentioned to my mom about getting a ring for Nina. She told me that she knew a good jeweler that I should go see about a ring. Well, the jeweler was all the way over in Palo Alto (which is approximately 50 miles away). So, for me to get over there I had to find a time to do it without Nina's knowledge. Which is not an easy task. On the first Saturday in May my mom and my aunt Sue were headed to the jeweler's to pick some jewelry they had repaired. They said "why don't you join us and we can go out to lunch too." I said "sure." Now I just needed to get there without Nina knowing it. I was able to go under the pretense that I was going over to do some stuff for my mom. So, there I am, with my mom on one side and my aunt Sue on the other looking at rings for my fiancée. I picked out a ring but was not able to take it with me since it had to have the stone set. We have lunch before I head home. When they call to tell me the ring is ready I will have to figure out another way to get back over there without Nina being the wiser.

Time passes. The end of May is nearing and I get a call from the jeweler saying that the ring is ready. Now I need to figure out not only a time to get over and get the ring but to give it to Nina too. Which proves to be an even tougher task. With the invention of the computer and the internet information is accessible right from your home any time of the day. Credit card statements and bank accounts can be checked with the click of a button just about anytime. Since Nina can and does that on a regular basis I had to figure out a way to get the ring and give it to her within a sort period of time. Otherwise she would see the purchase on the statement and the surprise would be gone. So, I wait for the right opportunity to present itself.

It was now June. We were going on a family camping trip to Yosemite in the middle July. I had considered waiting until then to give her the ring. I was thinking it would be a great place, with all the natural beauty around, to get engaged. Especially since we both enjoy the outdoors. But I knew Nina didn't want to wait, she waited to be engaged now. So, I needed to figure a time and place sooner. On June 13th we were over in San Jose for my cousin's graduation party. As we were driving home we noticed how bright the moon was being nearly full. We made a detour on the way home and headed to the beach. It was a nice clear night. Since tomorrow night would be a full moon Nina suggested that we come down here again. The thought came to me that if I could get over to get the ring we could come down here tomorrow night. She wouldn't suspect it because it was her idea to come to the beach again.

As the sun rose on Saturday the 14th of June 2003 thoughts were running through my head on how I was going to pull this off. Saturday was a busy day. Nina's daughter Jessica was with her dad, but my daughter Lauren was here visiting from Florida. Saturday afternoon after we got home from doing who knows what Nina went to lay down to rest. It is around 4:00 and the jeweler (in Palo Alto) closes at 6:00. I figure I have plenty of time to get there before they close. I tell Nina I am going out to do a few things, but I am very vague about what I am doing. Our driveway is such that one car parks in front of the other, so you have to move one car to get the other out. The car that I had at the time Nina didn't drive and it was parked in first. Well, here I am trying to get out of the house and over the hill to Palo Alto as quickly as possible. Well, to say the least Nina wasn't being very cooperative. First, she wants more information about where I am going and what I am doing. Second she can't decide whether she wants me to take my car and leave her the Durango in case she decides to go anywhere. Taking my car would mean more time moving cars around. Finally she lets me go without anymore questions. And she tells me to go ahead and take the Durango. So Lauren and I head out the door. Lauren didn't know where we were going either.

Now 4:30 had come and gone and I am just heading out on the road. I have to stop and get gas but I figure I still have plenty of time. I am now driving on highway 17 just approaching Scotts Valley when my cell phone rings. It is my sister Tracy; she wants to take Lauren to the movies this evening. Lauren wanted to go but that would mean I would have to drop her off now since we wouldn't be back in time for the movie. I look at the time it is getting close to 5:00. I figured if Lauren went with my sister it would give me the opportunity to propose to Nina without anybody else around. I called the jeweler's to make sure they were going to be there until six and to let them know I was on my way. They said they would be there until 6:00. So, I turn the car around and head back to Aptos. I dropped Lauren off at my sister's house and head back to Palo Alto. I look at the time it is now 5:15 and I just leaving Aptos. I now have approximately 50 miles to go in 45 minutes. I know it will be close but I have to try and make it. Luckily the traffic wasn't too heavy going over highway 17. I am finally on my way.

As the miles tick away I am watch the minutes tick away too. I am willing the clock to slow down and the miles to speed up so I can make it. I get off the 280 freeway at Page Mill and head towards downtown Palo Alto. I am still almost 5 miles away but now I am on city streets so it will take me longer. I had only been there once before, the day I picked out the ring, so I am not only racing the clock by I am racing through my memory to remember how to get there. I knew time would be close and any wrong turns could very possible waste too much time. It is now ten minutes to six as I exit the freeway and head down Page Mill. I call the jewelers to make sure they were still there and to let them know I was still on my way. As I reached the downtown area the clock passes 6:00 and I still need to park and get to the jewelers. I head into the parking structure across the street from where I need to go, hoping that on a Saturday evening in the summer in downtown Palo Alto I will find a parking space quickly. And thankfully I did. I parked and ran the 2 flights up out of the parking garage, across the street and up 3 flights of stairs to the jewelers. It is now a few minutes after 6:00. They see me coming and pretend like the store is closed that they are on their way home. Fortunately they were just kidding because I was too out of breath to plead my case. I get the ring and head home. Time is still ticking away. And I need to get home quickly because I know Nina will be wondering where I am.

Here I am driving back over highway 17. I had just reached the summit when my cell phone rings. It's Nina. She asks where I am and when I will be home. I can't tell her I am on the summit then she would wonder why. I told her I was in Santa Cruz and I was almost done and that I would be home shortly. I said I would call her when I was on my way home. I was almost to Highway 1 when I called her back. It was now after 7:00. I told her I was on my way but that I was going to stop and get us some food to take to the beach. I arrived home after getting food. We get ready and head to the beach, all the while I am avoiding questions about where I went and what I did.

We get to the beach, get out and walk down the beach a way so we weren't near anyone else. We sat down and ate and waited for the moon to come out. We are sitting there talking and enjoying the evening while we waited for the moon to rise. It is now a little after 9:00 and I call my sister to tell her we were going to be late picking up Lauren (I had said we would be there around 9:00). Nina and I are sitting there I have the ring in my pocket. Her back is facing where the moon would rise. I am waiting for it to show itself before I gave her the ring. The moon was not cooperating, it would not appear. Finally it was getting late and I knew we need to get going. I couldn't wait for the moon any longer. I slid the ring out of my pocket and asked Nina to marry me. Nina had no clue that I was planning to give her the ring (or that I even had a ring for her) that night. When I gave her the ring she started asking all kinds of questions about the planning that she forgot to say yes. Since it is dark on the beach I had brought a small flashlight so she would be able to see the ring without having to go back to the car. As for the moon, wouldn't you know it right after I gave her the ring the moon graced us with its presence. Since that day the full moon now means something a little more special to us. Oh and of course Nina said "yes" otherwise you wouldn't be reading this story.

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