Picture It: Chicago. Illinois. Memorial Day. 2008.
A normally polite, fun-loving, Norwegian girl had been dating a tall, dreamy, handsome, part-Swede for a little over two years. Neither of them had ever been in a relationship for that long. They really liked each other, in fact, they loved each other. The girl (me) had been touring for almost three years but her career was going to take a little turn. She was going to leave her touring company at the end of June to work and live on a cruise ship for a four month contract. Her boyfriend (Tim) was about to leave his day job at an advertising firm to start his first job with the same theatre to work on the same cruise ship for the same contract. He was first offered a spot on the ship because another tall guy was leaving the cast. Initially, Tim was hesitant to say yes to this new job. I said, ‘Why in the world wouldn’t you take it? Of course, I would miss you but you’ve been waiting to work for this theatre, this is why you moved to Chicago. Go on the ship!’ (Wasn’t that an encouraging and supportive thing for me to say? Even though Id’ miss him, I put his needs first.) So he said agreed.
Upon my encouragement, he said yes and then I suggested - and this was ballsy for me because I had never done anything on account of boy before, I guess I was a smitten kitten over this one - I suggested, maybe I could ask to be a part of the cast on this ship and we could be on the ship together?
Tim liked that idea.
Now, remember how nice I am please.
So, it worked out that yes, both of us were going to work and live on this cruise ship together. It would be both of our first time in Europe and the Mediterranean, we would be able to write our own material, as well as improvise and do classic sketch comedy. We were excited. A lot of changes were happening.
Remember how nice I am. Please? Thank you :) You look nice.
So, all of this happened in the middle of May, in a matter of like, two weeks. The offer to work on the ship for Tim. My decision to leave touring to go on the ship. I could not understand why Tim was going to initially say no to this dream gig. In fact, I thought it was a little stupid that there was hesitation on his part but what do I know?
For a good week or so, Tim had wanted us to take a walk by Lake Michigan. One of my favorite aspects of living in Chicago is Lake Michigan. It’s as close to the ocean as you’ll get in the Midwest. For many years, I tried to live as close as I could to the lake so I could take long walks around the lakefront. I liked walking by the lake with Tim, going to the playground close to it and swinging, hanging out at Dog Beach near Addison to watch the dogs have crazy fun splashing in the lake. I loved hanging out at Belmont Harbor, watching the sailboats and yachts. It had been chilly the Spring of 2008 and really rainy that May, so we couldn’t walk by the lake much. I had been on tour a lot too, so I wasn’t in town much.
On Memorial Day, we were both finally in Chicago for the day. We had made plans to meet up with Tabitha that afternoon to see Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. That morning, Tim suggested we finally walk by the lake. It was sunny out for this first time in days. In fact, it was downright warm.
‘I don’t want to walk by the lake. We’re going to meet Tabitha later.’ I grumbled.
Tim was insistent that we walk by the lake. Today.
‘Fine.’ I snap. ‘But I am not going to take a shower before we walk because it’s hot out. I’ll shower after we walk and before we meet up with Tab.’ We leave my studio apartment. I look like a scab.
We head down Waveland to the lake. Wouldn’t you know that there is a freaking Cubs game that day?
‘Man, I hate the Cubs! All of these people are idiots. I can’t believe you want to walk right now, it’s hot and my neighborhood is a sea of drunk idiots. Nice, Tim.’
‘Let’s just keep walking, sweetheart. It will get better once we get closer to the lake.’
‘Fine. It better. This is ridiculous.’
We make it to Dog Beach. Tim wants to watch the dogs for a bit. Now, usually, I am alll about watching the dogs play but I was in rare form on 26 May 2008.
‘Are you kidding me? We have to meet Tabitha. I have to shower. Let’s turn around.’
‘No, sweetheart. I would like to walk to Belmont Harbor.’
‘This is ridiculous. Fine. But we’re walking back to your place, so you can drive me to mine so I can shower before the movie.’
We’re walking towards the harbor. Tim is really warm. So, I decide to make fun of him.
‘Why are you carrying your huge Timbuk2 bag? Why do you even need a bag when we’re just walking to the Harbor? Why would you want something heavy across your back when it’s so hot out?’
He just takes it.
He finds a spot on the lake front. A spot that no one is really nearby. ‘Let’s sit for awhile.’
We sit. We’re there for like a minute and I stand up, “Okay. The lake is beautiful today. We need to leave. I have to shower. You have to drive me to my place. Let’s go.”
Tim is slowly losing his cool, “Can.. we.. just sit a minute? Please.”
‘Rebecca, we are going on a big adventure soon.’
‘Yes. Yes, we are, Tim.’
‘I would like for us to go on another adventure.’
Now, I am just looking out at the lake, trying to be cool and not smack him or something. ‘Well, Tim, let’s be on the ship for a month or so before we agree to a second contract. We don’t know if we’ll like being on the ship long enough to be there for eight months.’
I am oblivious.
I look over at Tim and he is down on one knee, with a ring in his hand.
Now, this part is fuzzy to me because I was in total and complete shock. Good shock but shock. I had no idea this was coming at all and I had just been a total b*tch to him all morning. He either asked me to marry him or to be his wife, I do not remember his exact wording. I couldn’t believe he wanted to ask me at all! Especially since I was being such a b*tch.
Instant tears of joy were squirting out of my eyes, like a character in a comic strip, I of course said, ‘YES!’ I was a total girl: crying and shaking. I hugged him.
After we hugged a bit, I whimpered, ‘But I’ve been such a b*tch to you all day! I am so sorry, Tim. Are you sure you want to marry me?’
He was sure. He also said and I’ll never forget and it is one of the million reasons I wanted to and did marry him: ‘You don’t have to take my last name. Rebecca Ryder is a lot of alliteration.’
He knows me. He just knows me. He gets me. He totally surprised me and he knows that I love surprises. He also knows how important my name is to me and didn’t expect me to change everything. His Grandma Potter had given him her ring for us to have. He kept it as she had it because she had given us her blessing to change it however we wanted. He wanted us to design the new ring together. He had asked both of my parents for my hand in marriage, without me knowing that he had this up his sleeve. The reason he initially did not want to accept the ship contract was because he knew he was going to propose to me and didn’t want to get engaged, then be apart for four months. He is so kind.
And I was such a b*tch!
After a few minutes of tears of joy, hugging cry/laughing, and (me apologizing) just being in awe of the moment I screamed, “Holy sh*t! We’re engaged, Tim! I’m engaged to Tim Ryder!” I didn’t care if the whole lakefront knew. I wanted the world to know. I love Tim Ryder!
We walked back to his apartment to get his car, I just sat and stared at this new huge ring on my finger.
This is a long story - so, I’ll tell you, I was able to call my Mom, Dad and sister before the movie started to let them know we had were engaged. Mom and Dad had known it was going to happen but not exactly when so they’d been dying of curiosity for weeks.
Yes, we picked up Tabitha and went to the movie. I mean, that’s what we had planned. Tabitha was kinda like, “Why are you going to spend your engagement day at this movie? With me?” I was in pleasant-shock and not going to stray from our previous plan. I had no idea that I was going to get engaged to my dreamboat of a boyfriend by the lake that day.
I vaguely remember the horridness that was the Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull movie… I was engaged.
I remember we ate at Pequod’s after the movie. It was the most delicious pizza I had ever eaten because I was engaged.
I couldn’t believe how much I wanted to marry Tim and how truly elated I was and how different I felt because we were engaged. Funny what love does to a girl.
I wore Tim’s Grandma’s original ring for a week or so, as we decided where to go to use the stones to design a new ring. This picture was taken almost a month after we got engaged and just a few days after my new ring was made. It was my last show with my touring company and while I was sad to leave them, I was overjoyed to be on a new adventure with my perfect fiance.
Happy Engagement Anniversary, Tim! You are everything to me. Thank you for loving me enough to go through with asking me to marry you and thank you for loving me enough to marry me. I love you!