"Emerald, I love you. Will you marry me?" Noah is kneeling on gravel, and holding out a gigantic ring.

I knew this day was coming. I'd been dreading it ever since I first noticed Noah gazing at me with a tender expression on his face. Of course a big sap like him would pick Valentine's day to do this. Tears are creeping out the sides of my eyes, so I scrunch my face to staunch their flow. "Noah, I love you, and I would love to continue being your girlfriend, but I will not marry you."

Noah's eyes widen in surprise, and his mouth drops open. "But-- Ginny said you'd say 'yes'-- it's been three years-- we've talked about how we would raise our children-- why?"

I give up on holding in my tears, "I thought we were just being hypothetical when we talked about our hypothetical children! I don't even know if I want to have children. Maybe I want to adopt! Or parent kittens!"

"Okay, so you don't want children, that's fine, but can you focus--"

"Noooo!" I howl. "I didn't say I don't want children. I just don't know if I do!" My boyfriend looks aghast. He is still kneeling, his knee must have permanent gravel indentations in it by now. "Oh, get up, Noah! I don't want you to injure your knee trying to propose." I extend my hand to help him, but his outstretched hand is still holding the box with the ring in it. Noah grimaces and we both watch as he snaps the box shut. Bye, bye, pretty ring. May you one day find a more appreciative recipient.

Noah unfolds himself, "Okay, I'm standing. Now, will you tell me why you won't marry me?"

At this question, I panic. I had reasons. They were running through my head when he first got on his knee. But at this moment they escape me. All I can think is, I love this man. Well, sure I love him, but that doesn't mean I should marry him. Finally it comes to me, "You spend all day playing Nazi Zombies on the PS3, and it doesn't bother you at all!"

Noah looks surprised. I continue, "Don't you want more out of your free time than Nazi Zombies?" As I speak, I can feel more reasons tumbling about my head, and they make their way out of my mouth. "I am way too young to get married. Yes, I'm 28, but I'm an immature 28. I wanted to travel the world alone before settling down. And you and me weren't supposed to last. We're so different, I was just dating you so we could be a step above friends with benefits."

At this point, Noah has rocked back on his heels and is looking at me with a bemused expression. I continue, "And sweetie, I love you like a fat kid loves cake but you never save your money! You spend it on fancy dinners out, or jewelry, and then you can't afford to go to Maine with me. I want a guy who saves his money for important things, not silly possessions."

"And you idiot! Why would you even think about proposing without even talking with me about it first? It's such a huge life change. Am I supposed to make up my mind on the spot? Is any woman? Are we supposed to just immediately agree because marriage is what every women wants? It's such an outdated world view!" Noah has the audacity to chuckle at this. Before he looked devastated, and now he is chuckling.

"Plus, you're a meat eater. It's okay to date a meat eater, but I don't want to spend my entire life compromising. I want to eat my couscous and beans!"

Noah's laughs outright at this. His smile is crooked and he raises his eyebrow at me, "Is that all?"

He's laughing. I'm being serious and he's laughing. I whimper and sniffle, "You never cook! I always wanted to marry a man who could cook, so we could share the burden. But you can't even microwave popcorn without burning it. I hate the smell of burning popcorn, but you burn it every time!" My voice escalates with every word until I end on a full fledged wail. Tears are cascading down my cheeks now. Suddenly, Noah's warm body is cradling mine and I realize that I was shivering throughout my entire monologue. I bury my face into his shoulder and wipe tears and snot all over his comfy merino sweater.

Noah's chest rumbles as he speaks, "Emerald, all those reasons you gave for not marrying me, I love you because of them. I love you because you want to travel alone, because you mock me for being unable to cook, because you so staunchly believe in equality of sexes, because you'd never say 'yes' just to say 'yes.' I want you because of all of that. So if those are your reasons for not marrying me, that's okay. I'll wait, because you're the Yin to my Yang."

I wrinkle my brow, "Wait, you're okay with this? And you've moved on to spouting cliches?"

Noah punches me playfully on the shoulder, "Shut up! Yeah, I'm okay with this. Sometime in the future I'd love to get married, but if you don't want that, I'll take what I can get."

In that moment, I know. I know that I want to spend my life with a man who will love me and laugh, even when I turn down his marriage proposal. "Um, can I take back my 'no' now?" I ask, stretching up to kiss Noah.

He chuckles into my mouth, "you sure can."