I've thought over the time and place…how old I will be, how far apart our ages are…even to the detail of his eyes, his hair, what I'll love most about him. Suffice it to say that those things haven't gotten any clearer the longer I think about them. They just keep getting blurrier and blurrier.

So I thought writing a proposal was going to be difficult without having to create something, like a story. To write about his proposal is to reveal an inner-most part of myself that can only be found in dream and I've long since quit indulging in dreams.

The proposal will take place years from now. It may be right smack in the middle of college or after I've gotten my degree in graphic design and become a big time photographer. Only God knows the exact moment and time, the how, the why, and the where. At this time I shall not predict the future but simply define my idea of romance. This in no way is ever going to happen but I shall allow my brain to wander and my heart to weave a story.

Either in college or out, I'll be using film, learning about red rooms and developing, looking at thumbnails from digital cameras, playing around with lighting a staging and candid shots, and using a light table and a magnifying glass. So here I am, I just got done with a shoot and I'm in the red room developing my film. It's quiet work, developing film, with just you giving birth to masterpieces. It's kind of like washing the dishes (call me crazy). Your mind tends to wander to things that seem far away, like the conversations of people around you or what's on the television. I only wash my own dishes in a quiet apartment and I don't much have time for television anymore, so the red room is just as quiet as it would be nowadays for me to wash dishes; the only thing left to hear is my thoughts.

I'm thinking of him and how we've grown from the time when we first started "courting." I use the term "courting" because…we don't make such a big deal about it. Technically called dates, ours are merely two friends getting together to go somewhere. Sometimes it's at a church function, sometimes it's just out to dinner, and on time (I remember this vividly and have to smile as I'm developing a picture I took of a little girl at the park) we went to the fair and he won me a gold fish. Drives my cat crazy, I have to keep Mr. Glub on a shelf so she can't get to him.

Dating has such a negative connotation nowadays…and I guess part of it goes back to knightly times where women acted like ladies and their gentlemen never showed overly public displays of affection. He holds my hand, he opens doors, he pulls out chairs, and he buys dinner (unless, of course, I insist upon paying). Because of our shared Christian faith, there are certain boundaries that are meant to be crossed only by husband and wife and we respect them too much to make it something we worry about.

Another way of putting it is our relationship is just…well at first it was awkward, in those first stages of getting to know a person. But now it's…natural. We enjoy each other's company even if no one's talking. We don't have to make out to know the attraction we have for each other. Either of us doesn't have to spend the night at the other's apartment to step into their world and know their interests. When we fight, it isn't the end of the world, just another chance to learn.

So I'm thinking of him and how lately he's been acting strange. I hang a picture of an old woman feeding pigeons on the line. He's been overly sweet and…very busy. He's always meeting someone or doing something and not home when I call lately. I shrug the thoughts away, storing in my memory to ask him about it later. My mind is sometimes like a dryer though. Always tumbling, sometimes coming up with half-baked schemes, and dryer gnomes always steal my socks when I'm too busy doing other things.

The phone in my back pocket vibrates and, since I'm the only one around to hear me, I answer it. Well what do you know, it's him!

"Hey, what're you up to?"

What can I say? At the very sound of his voice I have this goofy grin on my face as if "what're you up to," were code for, "I love you, you're the most beautiful girl in the world." There's a hint of a grin in his own voice. "Nothing much, I'm just developing my latest project."


I nod and then I remember I'm on the phone. "Yeah."

"So, are you doing anything tonight?"

"Hmmm." I had to think. I could be doing several different things that I need to do tonight but that all depends on what I could be doing other than what I need to do. "Nothing special, why?"

"Want to go out and celebrate?"

"Celebrate what exactly?"

"Umm, good health? Life? I don't know, us?"

Us!! What a terribly short and wonderful word! "Sure, what do you have in mind?"

"Well, dress casual. I'll pick you up at your place at around 7."

Dress casual. I look down at what I have on. I just got done shooting candid shots in the park and was dressed in jeans and a tank top. I shrug. That's casual enough.

By the time seven rolls around I've changed my jeans twice, my shirt three times and am just slipping on my fifth pair of shoes when he knocks on the door. "Who is it?" I yell, patting myself down for my keys.

"Singing telegram," comes a muffled voice on the other side of the door. I laugh at his joke. He pulls that on me all the time. We sat down to watch T.V. one time and Clue came on, the part where he shoots the singing telegram person. There was a tickle fight that ensued, ending up with me shooting him, leaving him to die a mock death on my floor. He survived to sing again and since then, he's been the singing telegram when he comes to the door, and it is guaranteed to put a smile on my face.

I find my keys, shut off the lights, answer the door, we get into the car, and off we go. We grab a bite to eat (don't ask me where, I think my brain would just blow up from romantic overload). I'm daydreaming, staring off into space and I hardly notice the fact that he parks just outside his apartment. I give him a quizzical look once I warp back to reality.

"Anderson has been up there all day and I haven't been home," he says apologetically. "Would you mind taking a walk?"

Of course not! I love dogs, I love night-time, especially with the full harvest moon like it is, and I love him. I wait, leaning against the hood of his car while he gets his dog, Anderson, a big, wolfish shepherd. The first time I saw Anderson, he was a very disproportionate puppy, with paws and ears too big for his body. Now he's a gargantuan dog, as sweet as can be. (And now it seems prudent to give my boyfriend a name, since I've given his dog one. Let's call him Ryan.)

Ryan hands Anderson's lead to me and we go across the street to the park, the only reason Ryan was allowed to have such a big dog in his apartment. So we're walking, not saying anything and Anderson gives a particularly powerful tug on his lead, making my steps quicken to keep my balance. Ryan to the rescue, his hands come on either side of me to grab the lead and give it a sharp tug. Our hands overlap. "Anderson, heel!" we say simultaneously.

"Maybe you should let me take him," he says with a good-natured laugh.

"Ok." I start to hand him the lead and he's digging in his pockets.

"Hold this for me, will you?"

He empties my hands of Anderson's lead, replacing it with a small, dark velvet box. Curiosity was something I was never able to curb by much, so I open it and stop dead in my tracks as he walks on a few paces. "Ryan!"

"What?" He stops and walks calmly up to me. In the velvet box was a silver ring, with a small diamond glimmering in the moonlight. My mouth is open and I'm speechless as I just stand there and stare at the ring. I don't even look into his eyes, but if I had I would have seen a very joyful, anxious twinkle in them. With a touch to the nose Anderson sits and Ryan anchors the lead with his foot. He takes the box from my hands, breaking my star, causing me to look at him. He takes the ring from its casing and puts the box in his pocket. He grasps my hands.

"I've been praying about this for a long time. I try to picture my life without you and I can't. I've tried to judge what your reaction would be and I decided there was only one way to find out. God gave me the ok…and so I'm here." He kneels as tears sting my eyes. "On my knees in humbleness and faith." He was choking on his words, trying to get them out exactly right. But his voice was filled with such emotion. "TaNeesha…Ann Elizabeth Cook…will you marry me?"