Saturday, September 3, 2011

our story. chapter 7

our story. chapter 7

Valentine's Day, Spring Break, Engagement

Upon arrival in windy, cold, and dreary northern Arizona, I realized one thing:  my heart stayed in New Zealand on that warm black sand beach.  

From that point forward, we were both giving our all to make a long distance relationship work.  I sent him a good morning email everyday.  Jason called me after school at 3:30 on the dot every week day.   We skyped nightly for our routine good night/ I love you chat.  

My teaching job was going great.  I loved what I was doing but my mind was always thinking about what he was doing and the next time we'd talk on the phone. I feel like our phone conversations just amped up my attraction for him.  That accent gets me every time.  It still does. 

Somewhere between January 1 and February 14 we were desperate enough to see each other in person that Jason decided to come to Arizona for Valentine's Day.  

Jason went above and beyond to show me how he felt about me.  The day before Valentine's Day, the day of his arrival, he had flowers sent to my classroom.  The card read: "II am in the air now and I will see you after school today. Love, Jason"   I really can't top that flower story, though Jason did once buy every single red rose in a flower shop.  The exact number was 46.   That was also up there.  

Jason couldn't believe the size of the snowdrifts on the side of Highway 87.  He had never seen anything like it.  As exotic as my New Zealand experience was, Jason's northern Arizona experience was just as exotic.  Maybe that's why I am still so fond of Winslow.  I see it through different eyes now.  I appreciate it for its uniqueness and bareness.  If you ever want to truly appreciate the place you call home, travel/live overseas.  Not only will you gain more perspective, but you will also realize that home is more awesome than you thought.  

On Valentine's Day we rode the train to the Grand Canyon.  I wrote about that adventure here.  It was fun to see the Grand Canyon through a winter wonderland perspective.  It was also special because I was sharing something amazingly beautiful with my kiwi.  I may not be able to give him black sand beaches and perfectly green hill sides dotted in sheep, but I can show him one of the 7 natural wonders in my own backyard.  

During our Arizona time together, we discussed marriage.  Jason was so ready to put the ring on my finger.  He had even brought the ring with him.  At that point I was STILL not ready.  I loved him and thought of him as my future husband but was still not ready to say yes.  

A few days later we celebrated our one year anniversary together at La Posada.  It was a special date that will forever remain one of my all time favorites.  That date, among other events from the Valentine visit, are mentioned here, in a post titled, "the kiwi boy loves arizona."

Our goodbye at the airport was,  you guessed it, dramatic and emotional.  By this point we had been through far too many goodbyes at airports.  

The next weeks were just as challenging as the weeks after Christmas and before Valentine's.  I was so twitterpated because of that kiwi.  It was during this small window that I felt completely ready to say yes.  I felt like I had reached a place in my life, and heart, that allowed me to freely give myself.  It was bad timing because he had just left Arizona.  

The planning for the next trip began.  This time I was headed to Aotearoa.  Spring Break was the logical choice because it gave me a full week.  Jason bought my ticket and I flew to New Zealand on a Friday afternoon.  

As the plane made its final descent into Auckland I had nothing but happy thoughts.  I knew that by the end of the day I would be engaged.  Jason held out purple and pink roses for me as I greeted him at Customs.  I thought he might be planning to propose right than and there but he didn't.  I later found out that he had the ring in his pocket.  He planned to, but I was sooo tired and out of it that he decided to wait until I got a little bit of rest.  

I did just that.  I took a nap at his house for several hours.  Jason came in and softly woke me up.  As I stood up he grabbed both of my hands and got down on one knee.  Even though I knew it was coming at some point, I was still shocked.  I froze for a second, though it probably felt like a year to him, and said yes.  When I said yes he slipped the ring on my finger and we both got on our knees and hugged, cried, and smiled.  Here is the post that I wrote. 

It had been a long road.  There were bumps, hills, setbacks, and everything in between for us.  We had been through much and it legitimately felt like an accomplishment for both of us.  

As newly engaged people do, we showed off the news (and ring) to anyone who would listen.  I called everyone from my family back in the States.  I didn't tell anyone that I was going to New Zealand with the intention of getting engaged.  It was probably obvious but I still think I caught people off guard.  

I do have to mention that I ended up trading the ring that Jason picked.  The ring was great but I was really hoping to have one that was flat on my hand.  That is what I had always wanted.  Jason agreed to take me to Michael Hill to see if there was anything suitable.  There was.  We traded the rings out and I walked out with my perfect, dream come true ring.  Picture of the ring from the link above.  

We had an engagement party in Auckland the day before I left.  Many people from Jason's family came along with friends from the singles ward (the one where I met him in Sunday School).  I was even lucky enough to have Carol and Natalie attend.  After all, they are my New Zealand family.  

It was so fun to open presents together.  We received towels, an iron, and cute little wall decorations that had "home" sayings.  To us, they were the most exciting gifts we could have gotten because they represented our life together.  

We worked hard to plan as much as we could for our special day.  We decided on a date, July 11, and a temple, Snowflake.  That gave us 2 1/2 months to plan a wedding.  The challenge was that I was in one hemisphere and he was in the other hemisphere. Literally, at opposite sides of the earth.  

It was the best spring break ever, even my blog post about it says so.  As always, we had our dramatic airport goodbye.  There was something a little more tender this time though.  He was my husband-to-be and that made it more intense.  The first few hours of the flight I did nothing but stare at the shiny diamond encrusted ring on my finger.  I felt so good.  I was smiling and the lady next to me noticed.  She told me I was glowing.  

March 28 brought me home to Arizona.  I was all business. Wedding preparation began immedatley. 


Kerri said...

i love that you are documenting your love story. such a fun read!

LeashyLoo said...

Larissa, I LOVE reading the "Jason and LArissa" story. I hope that you are documenting this and putting it in a journal for your kids and their kids and their kids (etc.) to read. How romantic! Just like a novel! I can relate to so many aspects of your courtship etc. No wonder you and clicked almost right away! Hope you guys are doing well. NZ misses you and so do we!