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Our Own Alyssa Got EnGAYged!!!

A truly magical story for #2020

For all the years that APW has been in business, and had a staff… we’ve never had a team member get engaged while working here. Not once! (Except that time that Meg got married obviously.) But you read that right! I got engaged this weekend, and the story is so much better than even that title can tell you. Buckle up, buttercup.

A little backstory 

Mid-June feels big and ominous for me, in so many ways. June 19th is my mom’s birthday and the Sunday right after is Father’s Day. With both my parents gone, this brings the question of how to celebrate and honor them, what to do to feel distracted, and how to find joy in the moments. A few weeks ago, my partner Trisha and I were chatting about it and decided we should go away for the weekend. My family has a favorite mountain spot in the Sierra Nevadas—it’s a place my grandparents used to take my mom and her siblings, a place I’ve been going to occasionally since I was very little. This magic mountain spot has become even more special over the years as I’ve taken trips with my family to memorialize my uncle who passed away in 2011, and my mom who passed away in 2013. I realized pretty quickly that this is where we should go, and take this moment to memorialize my dad who passed away in 2019. I’d talked about this place with her a hundred times, but in our 2+ years together, we just hadn’t found the time to visit—now was the time.

So, we started planning our weekend away. This meant placing an REI order because Trisha needed a backpack and a new sleeping bag. It’s worth noting… my favorite mountain spot is only accessible by foot. It’s a 6+ mile hike into the backcountry and up a mountain to nearly 11,000 feet. She looked at me like I was a little crazy and then agreed that it sounded fun. I just kept promising her that it would be worth it, it’s my favorite place on earth after all. Oh, I also promised her that as a bonus for our fun weekend, I’d also take her to my favorite natural hot spring where we could soak in the magic warm water. So we took Friday off of work, and planned to leave on Thursday afternoon so we’d have plenty of time for bonus adventures.

What Trisha didn’t know was that as we planned this special weekend, I was also scheming something even more special. A few days after we solidified our plans, I texted my best friend and said “I think I want to order Trisha’s ring and see if I can get it before the backpacking trip. I want to propose to her.” After some squeals and daydreaming, I realized I didn’t have much time. Before loving Trisha, I can’t say I ever planned to be the proposer, so this was all uncharted territory.

Our love story

Let me pause here and tell you our story. Trisha and I have known each other for about eight years. We were introduced by a mutual friend—I vividly remember the night we met, at a random country bar in Sacramento, thinking she was really cute and tall. When we met, she was in a relationship with someone else and expecting a baby.  For quite some time, we were just acquaintances who liked each other’s Facebook posts and saw one another at the occasional birthday party. Because of our mutual friend, we knew details of other’s lives pretty intimately but were still quite peripheral to one another.

A few years back, Trisha’s relationship ended. I heard all about it from that mutual friend. At that point, I knew that I had always admired her, felt like she was a wonderful human—I knew enough about her and her life to know that she had chosen to be a parent during complex circumstances, taken on the role of mom gracefully and been a devoted and loving parent ever since. But I still didn’t know her very well, personally. A few months after her separation, we ended up hanging out for that same friend’s birthday and after a few too many drinks we were definitely showing interest in one another. Not long after that, we started casually chatting on Instagram… you know, the classic millennial love story made up of memes. We even went on an accidental one-on-one date when we had tickets to a concert that our mutual friend couldn’t make it to. Months passed, and we kept chatting casually. I’ll speak for myself when I say that I definitely got butterflies every time my phone chimed and her face popped up.

After months of that, Trisha was going to have her tonsils removed, but she didn’t own a blender for smoothies (blasphemy). I happened to be cleaning out my house and had an extra, so I offered to visit and deliver some smoothie supplies. To my surprise, she obliged, and on that one fateful Saturday I headed up to Sacramento for a visit. We ended up going out for a bite to eat (mashed potatoes for her), and then watched Disney’s Coco while hanging out on her couch. The attraction and mutual interest was pretty undeniable as soon as we were alone together, and the rest (as they say) is history… we’ve hardly been apart since. In true lesbian fashion, we moved in together 9-ish months later, and have been loving each other hard through what has turned out to be two-plus wildly difficult yet beautiful years (hello, death, child-rearing, friend breakups, grief, court battles, and so much more).

The plan

After the squealing, I chatted more with my best friend about a plan. I wanted to propose on our backpacking trip, but I also knew there was a chance that the ring just wouldn’t make it (thanks COVID). So, we made a backup plan. I decided that if the ring didn’t come in time, then I would propose once it did at our favorite local ice cream spot with the kiddo in tow. I placed the ring order, and contacted the sweetest folks at Good Gold about my wishes to get the ring in time. They promised to do the best they could, and then I just had to be patient (which, I’ll note, I’m not very good at).

When I received the shipping notification, it showed that the ring would arrive on 6/19. Unfortunately, by then we’d already be deep in the forest, and it would be too late. I was so upset and worried, and frankly wanted to tell Trisha because she’s my person, but had to keep it a secret. So, I decided that the universe would be in charge. If the ring arrived in time, great. If not, then it wasn’t meant to happen on our trip. So, I kept waiting. Much to my surprise, I received a text message notification on Monday the 15th that the ring was going to be delivered… that day! Magic! So, while Trisha was out with Jude, I rushed over to snag the package from her best friend who lives around the corner, and whom I’d looped in as an accomplice to receive the package. I took a quick peek at it, knew it was perfect, and then hid it in a desk drawer just before she got home. Oh, and I snuck in a call to her dad—not exactly to ask permission, but to honor the tradition of that ask. He sweetly teared up and gave me the go-ahead I was seeking.

As we were packing our backpacks a few days later, I had to pick a spot to hide the ring. I landed on putting it in a little pouch of ibuprofen I was packing. I proceeded to confirm it was there and safe roughly 500 times over the hours leading up to our trip, and as we were on our adventure. Somehow, I managed to not get caught looking longingly at my pouch of ibuprofen. As we set off on our adventure, I found myself spending all the quiet moments in the car, while we laid in a hot spring, and as we hiked for hours daydreaming about the sweet things I’d say to her and talking myself through getting down on one knee. I also was panicking the entire time that I’d talk in my sleep, or accidentally say something about how anxious and excited I was. Who knew planning to propose to someone you know for a fact you intend to marry could be so darn stressful? (I guess maybe lots of people know, but… I honestly just believed that wouldn’t be the case for me. Wrong.)

A day full of surprises

We woke up on Saturday in the middle of the most beautiful meadow, next to a river, surrounded by trees. We made some coffee and oatmeal and had a slow and cozy morning. As the sun rose and got hot, we packed up the items we needed for the day—lunch, water, a first aid kit, and my secret pouch of ibuprofen and a ring. Then we set off on our hike.

Now, this is a hike I’ve done at least 6-8 times in my life, so I foresaw no issues. We approached where I recalled a trail sign being and found an unmarked and unclear path. Luckily, I knew we simply had to go up in order to get to the lake. Trisha probably thought I was crazy again, but since we couldn’t keep track of the trail well, we basically were off-road hiking straight up a mountain for the next 2-3 hours. By the time we crested the top of the mountain and saw the lake, I burst into tears. It’s such a special place and feels like the place where some of my most special people have been laid to rest, and my emotions just took over. Once I’d calmed down, we found our way to a quiet corner of the lake where we would rest, recover from our arduous hike, eat lunch, and hang out. We spent some time listening to a few songs and talking about my dad—taking a moment to say goodbye and close out the last year and a half of missing him. We snacked on some cheese and crackers, felt the warm sun on our shoulders, laughed, cried, and just enjoyed the beauty.

Suddenly I realized that it was nearing 4 pm, and we should start to think about the fact that we had two hours of hiking ahead of us. We decided that as long as we left by 5 pm, we’d be fine. So, a little while later I snuck the ring into my bra, and told Trisha that I wanted to try out a way to take some selfies that I’d learned online from a photographer. So, I turned my phone’s camera settings to the best possible video quality and set the phone up on a rock—that way we could just pose and hang out, and I’d be able to screenshot the images later. Once the camera was rolling, we sort of just hung out by the lake. I noticed that Trisha was breathing funny and asked her if she was okay, to which she replied “just catching my breath.” Another hiker walked by, we kissed for the camera, and then I started really getting anxious and realizing I better do this thing (the video proves that there was at least six minutes of just awkward waiting, first).

So, I got her attention and said “Babe, while we’re here, I’d like to ask you a question. I know in some ways this place has lots of heavy emotion, but it doesn’t all have to be hard. While we’re here, I wanted to ask you (*drops to knee*) if you would marry me?” Please note: I was weeping, after the very first word, so how she understood me, I do not know. And, I hardly said any of the nice and sweet things I’d been planning on. But, ya’ll, she said YES!  I stood up, gave her a kiss, and before I could even put the ring on her finger, she looked at me and said “Is it my turn now?” and dropped to her knee as she pulled out the most beautiful shiny ring I have ever seen (it’s from MiaDonna, because she knows me and knows I love a do-good brand). I could not contain myself and just kept saying “What? How? Babe… how?” as I cried, she cried, and I squatted down to be close to her.

Somehow, as I had been stressing, scheming, and dreaming… Trisha had been planning the EXACT SAME PROPOSAL. I beat her to it by seconds, but it turns out she was almost exactly 48 hours ahead of me on contacting friends and ordering my ring. It was the most magical and beautiful and perfect moment that has ever happened. We finally stood up and slipped the rings on each other’s fingers. We kissed, we danced, we laughed, we screamed, we cried. As we started to catch our breath I said, “Do you like your ring? I had it engraved. It says ’til death’ inside.” She stepped back from me, eyes wide, and said “YOURS TOO!” I completely collapsed. How was any of this possible? The same proposal, the same day, the same secret-keeping, and the same damn inscription in the rings? I guess it’s just meant to be.

We haven’t stopped smiling since Saturday afternoon. Every so often we just catch each other’s eyes and flash our newly jeweled left hands to one another. I have asked her at least fifty times if she loves her ring—she does, because it’s so darn good. And she’s anxiously asked me the same—which frankly I find adorable because I’ve truly never seen a more beautiful or perfect ring (and I look at rings for a living sometimes). We are completely smitten, could not be happier, and are really just so glad to have such a beautiful silver lining in our 2020 story.

So, I guess it’s time to put all my years of wedding planning experience and APW knowledge to the test—it’s time to plan my own wedding!

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