At sunset on the Oregon Inlet, OuterBanks, NC
by Cathie Murensky
(Leesburg, Virginia, USA)
My (then) boyfriend Bob had an MBA class on the Saturday of the long weekend we were planning at the Outer Banks, NC to celebrate my birthday. I drove down the Friday night before and he was to come down the next day right after class let out.
That night before I went to bed, I sat on the deck of the beach house and saw my first shooting star. I made a wish that he would propose on my birthday (the next day). He arrived Saturday around 4:00pm and told me that he had planned for us to have a wonderful dinner at 1587 in Manteo (my favorite restaurant) where we would meet (for the first time) his friends who live in Chapel Hill, NC who also happened to be down at the beach for the weekend.
He had a small, wrapped gift on the island in the kitchen that he indicated I should open. I hoped it was a ring but it seemed too big. I opened it to see a gorgeous Raymond Wiel watch. This was the nicest watch I have ever owned...and I still wear it every day and love it...but it was not a ring. I thanked him profusely and hid my disappointment.
Then while finishing getting ready I could hear him running around upstairs, slamming things in the kitchen. He kept yelling to me "where is the cooler?" I asked why we needed one on our way to dinner. He replied that he wanted to go see the sunset and sip some champagne on the beach before we went to dinner. Now, while that was very romantic, I DID NOT like the timing of this idea. I really did not like the thought of having the damp, windy ocean breeze blast my hair, get sand on my dressy outfit, nor step across dunes in stiletto high heels before going to an upscale restaurant to meet his friends. I told him that was nice, but perhaps we could do that "AFTER" dinner. He then became agitated and continued to say how much he wanted to do it. I asked him if he had confirmed if his friends were in town and they knew where the restaurant was.
He then went on to the deck and faked a phone call to them. Now earlier in the month, he had asked me to buy a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne for a friend of his who was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. He said the commissary did not carry it and gave me $100 in cash to buy it. I thought that was a nice gesture and never gave it much thought after that. Finally Bob was ready and we left for dinner. On the way he continued to ask me if I would change my mind and consider going to the beach for the sunset he so wanted to see that night. I FINALLY gave in, knowing that I would be a damp mess for dinner. The last comment I said in the car was "Let this be an example of how flexible I am to do what YOU wanted to do rather than my concern over my appearance to meet important friends of yours for the first time".
So we then drove down to Pea Island at the Oregon Inlet. We arrive at the beach and sure enough, there we are walking over the dunes in our dress clothes; my heels sinking in the damp sand. He arranged the blanket and we sat down and looked out at the beautiful ocean. (That time of day at the beach is beautiful in October). He opened the cooler and pulled out the remaining 1/2 a bottle of champagne (Cliquot) that we had started the prior evening. The few other people around us consisted of guys in their "waders" who were surf fishing and looking at us like we were out of our minds.
He then put his arm around me and asked, "When you think of the future, what do you think about?" I replied, "I think about advancing my career, then perhaps up-scaling my town house...." he interrupted me and clarified, "Well, if you were really thinking about YOUR dream, what would it look like?" I said, (cautiously) "It would be with you..." He then did a quick 1/2 gaynor, down on one knee, pulled a ring box out of his pocket, opened it up and asked me to marry him. I cried, hugged him and said "YES!" During this time, the fishermen in waders briefly glanced over and continued to be focused on whatever was happening in the surf. Bob then pulled out the bottle of Dom Perignon that I had bought for his "friend", quickly threw out the other and toasted "us".
He had bought a disposable camera and held it out and took our picture from arm's length. He then drew a heart in the sand with our initials in it and took a picture of it that I have to this day. I asked him where he got the gorgeous platinum band, 2-rectangular baggettes with round cut stone (perfect size and style). He said he did a load of comparison shopping and research and finally ordered that one from a jeweler on the internet. He said he had told everyone in his master's class that day that he had to leave early to drive to the beach to propose to me...carrying that ring with him the entire drive, thinking about it the whole time. I then said, "Hurry, we are going to be late to meet your friends for dinner"---he told me that was not the truth, he just wanted a way to get me to dress up for dinner.
He had called the restaurant to request a special table and told them he was going to propose to me; to make it a special evening. We arrived at 1587 and it was a PERFECT evening; great food, great waitstaff and they did take our picture (many times). We now have such special memories of the OuterBanks....and I love that beach on Pea Island.