When I was able to emerge from the studio around the end of November, things at the gallery were in full holiday swing. My retail duties kicked into overdrive, and I was so thankful when Ryan announced that he would be whisking me away on Christmas Eve. It was the perfect escape from retail madness: We’d slip away and savor the only two consecutive days off in December. If there was an opportunity to even think about working, it had become Ryan’s mission to thwart it. It was Christmas, and I was finally on holiday.
I was able to leave the gallery at 4pm on Christmas Eve, and Ryan scooped me up in a mini cooper zip-car named Moonwalker. We raced down into the peninsula in time to catch the sunset in Pacifica, where I shook off the last of the city stress and continuing on our voyage south. Ryan had arranged for us to stay at the Hyatt Highlands Inn in Carmel, an exquisite resort with an amazing ocean view that we wouldn’t discover until daylight the following morning. We made quick use of the wood burning fireplace, unloaded the gifts our families sent from back east, and toasted with a glass of champagne before calling it a night.
The aforementioned ocean view took our breath away as the sun came up Christmas morning. We awoke early, excited to video chat with our families and head out to explore Big Sur. There was just so much love in the air that day. We drank coffee and visited with our loved ones for hours over a room service breakfast. It was overwhelming just how many things we had to be thankful for. We waved goodbye to our families around noon and emerged from the hotel room ready to explore.
Christmas afternoon was spent driving down into Big Sur, our breath was taken away each time we rounded the high cliffs that looked out over a churning teal ocean. The cliffs were ablaze with succulents turning red on the tips, the beaches consisted of rocky outcrops juxtaposed with superfine white sand. Green hills and mountains rolled inland. Even in December, everything seemed lush and alive. We found ourselves stopping off at every opportunity to take photos, to eat a late lunch on the beach, and savor the scent of salty air.
As the sun was about to set, we decided it was time to turn back. We began to weave our way back up Route 1 when Ryan spotted a whale out off the coast. He flipped the car around at a turnoff a few feet away and I scanned the ocean surface with scrutiny. Just then, a tail emerged from the water and splashed down. I was out of the car and running with camera in hand, so excited that I left my jacket behind. Ryan grabbed it, along with his camera bag and followed close behind.
We had happened upon a pod of whales swimming south. We eagerly attempted to snap more photos while working our way down the path towards the rocky waters edge. They were elusive, but I was persistent. Ryan directed me to the perfect vantage point upon which we could watch and wait for them to show themselves again. I knelt down to wait, and Ryan stepped back to take my picture.
Then he asked me to turn around.
He was kneeling, holding the only ring that ever made my heart skip a beat, and asked if we could share our adventures together for the rest of our lives.
He’d done the unthinkable. He’d surprised the girl who’s livelihood revolves around engagement. I didn’t sense what was brewing around me. We sat together with his arms wrapped around me on the edge of that cliff, overlooking the ocean as our whale family swam away. He’d managed to capture the exact moment he’d been waiting for: special, spontaneous, and serendipitous. And the ring? Well, that alone is an article for another day. But it’s the only ring known to make my stomach flip, and this gal has seen a lot of jewels.