The proposal plans suffered some early set backs. Firstly my attempts at subtly extracting ring sizes from Eleanor failed miserably. With no rings to 'borrow', measuring a hard trick to pull off undetected and measuring it is a hard question to casually ask without giving the game away. With this in mind I decided to take the easy route out - buy an absurd plastic ring to do the deed with and follow that up with a quick trip to a jeweler to size up the final article before the warm glow of being proposed to wore off. Hand in hand with ring size was stone choice and on this slightly more progress was made with some probably too obvious questions but a sapphire was picked. Now enter the confusing world of categorizing stone quality and some research into the four C's (carat, colour, cut and clarity) which lead to the big P (price). With stones rattling around the back of my mind I got onto the design of the ring which involved much agonizing work with Google and it was with a sign of inevitability that the design I liked most was only sold by a company in America. Cue further searching on the import rules for rings and the conclusion that the easiest method is to fly there and illegally just wear it on the way home.
Alongside the ring issues was the where and when issues. After a night out on the beer in the local seemed to lack a certain special event where as in outer space seemed a bit out of reach for a few years. I had the benefit of considering how this had gone for some of my friends - one who took his future wife to the top of a mountain in fog and drizzle to propose in a location perfect for him or another who went all the way to Sydney for the new year fireworks to help him pluck up the courage. Clearly something memorable was required and ideally not memorable in the dodgy prawn curry takeaway sense. With plans to go away for a weekend away in Europe on the cards the where was beginning to firm up. So as any good project manager can tell you often you only have control over two out of three variables and indeed the when was blown out of the water when I was sent to Australia with work.
Delayed, not to the original location and with the process of actually getting the chosen ring in place yet to be worked out things started to fall into place. I promised to organize a trip away between Christmas and new year and kept the location secret with the only hint that warm clothes would be required. Very much required. In fact we went to Vienna and as you can imagine since this was a rather special trip (one way or the other) I had aimed for some luxury. This did not however extend to a taxis from the underground to the hotel so we soon found ourselves a little lost in freezing temperatures. Which just made arriving at the hotel all the more enjoyable right? We were only in Vienna for three days and with a ring burning a hole in my pocket I was constantly on the lookout for the perfect location. I had heard of two schools of thought on how to micro-manage the when - pop the question early so you can relax and enjoy the holiday, pop the question late so that if she says no there isn't several days of life re-adjusting silences to endure. I was keen for the former but this relied on some sort of plan but the thought of being in the taxis on the way back to the airport while still looking out for the perfect moment focused my mind.
I had booked to see two evening concerts while we were in the capital of classical music and figured that after one of these would be the perfect moment, the first was in Mozart's old house so when we spotted a statue of Mozart in a park not so far from this location the plan was set in my mind. After a cold day out sight seeing we came back to the hotel to shower and change for the evening. Nerves makes fools of us all, and it seems me in particular. Almost ready to head out Eleanor popped into the bathroom and so I took the opportunity to check the essentials for the evening. Shoes, check. Coat, check. Ring, check. I like to do jobs properly so at this point I thought I'd best double check the ring and make sure it could perform its essential duty of the evening. So obviously I popped it on my finger, seemed to work fine. Fast forward thirty seconds and I was tugging at the ring in some desperation as I heard the toilet flush. Only after nearly dislocating my finger did it budge, just as Eleanor stepped into the room. If she wondered why there was a gleam of sweat on my brow and a slight tear in my eye she never mentioned it.
The concert itself was probably very good. Probably but I had my mind on other things. Once over I suggested we went for a bit of a random stroll which with an air temperature heading down in the minus double figures Eleanor took well. Amazingly our random stroll took us round to the gates of the park with the statue. The gate with the large chain and lock that is. Wondering how I was going to suggest we just climb over we spotted a gap in the railings. Obviously not expecting visitors in the evening the park had no lighting and as we walked along the dark path past some shady characters sitting on a bench warily watching us Eleanor must have been wondering what was at the end of this - a nice surprise or a six foot hole. The car backfiring which put into mind a pistol shot did little to calm my fraying nerves.
So we finally get to the crucial moment itself and luckily the statue was the focus of a few spot lights to brighten the scene otherwise it may have turned into a more familiar fumble in the dark than the dashing proposal I hoped to pull off. After I got Eleanor to pose for a few random photos playing the marble piano at the base of the statue I realized that any more procrastination would more likely lead to hypothermia than a successful outcome. So after muttering something I can't remember to set the scene that a serious moment was coming round the corner I creaked my bones into the traditional kneeing position and popped the question. At moments like this poets will tell you time stands still, aware of this I didn't hold my breath which is lucky given that there seemed to be a very long pause while a shell shocked Eleanor contemplated the repercussions of her next word. In some detail. The readers should be able to guess by the very presence of this website that the answer was in the affirmative. With a ring produced followed up with a picture on my phone of the final article I was allowed back off the floor, which was beginning to turn my knee numb, for a huge hug and a big smile. We made our way out the park and off for a stiff drink on the way home. Mission accomplished :-).