Lauren & Craig
My proposal came as a double whammy of a surprise – An unexpected trip with an unanticipated happy ending. Believe me, this read is a bit long, but it’ll be worth it.
Craig and I had been having a really tough couple of weeks at work, and the only thing really keeping us motivated was our planned trip to visit his mom and Step-dad in Jeffrey’s Bay for Easter 2013. I had never been to Jeffrey’s Bay and was really looking forward to this town famous for, yes, the Supertubes, but also for the surf factory shops. I was also very excited to finally be able to get to know the love of my life’s mother.
Let me start by saying, that although Craig and I had spoken about marriage and having kids on many occasions, we had only been ‘going steady’ for about 14 months when he proposed, and I had absolutely no clue that this moment was going to come so soon. Being the levelheaded guy that he is, I thought he would have waited for at least 2 years to make sure all boxes were ticked. But anyway, it didn’t happen that way…
So, we set off on our drive from Durban to Jeffrey’s Bay (or so I thought) at 5AM. From about 6AM or so, Craig started asking me if I was ready to see my Easter surprise and did I feel like chocolate. My response was “Umm, it’s 6 in the morning, that’s very sweet, but no, I don’t think I could stomach chocolate right now”. After about the third time of him asking me if I was ready to have some chocolate and me countering, “What is the obsession with the chocolate?”, he then responded with, “Well, will you at least open the chocolate eggs?” Now, suspicion naturally started creeping in, but when I saw the woolies white netting enclosing 6 mini Easter eggs still in their original foil, I think – what could he possibly be up to, and how did he get Woolworths in on the deal?
So, I break the netting, and proceed to unwrap and open the first egg, only to pull out the first of 6 fortune cookie style fortunes. It asked, “Have you ever been carried across the river by a fairy?” So I thought – OK, maybe this IS a stock standard Woolies egg. So, I carry on, and the next paper strip asks, “Have you ever been to a seafood extravaganza?” Then I knew this was not just any Easter egg. How DID he get woolies to do this for him? He must have a connection! The next one had south coordinates. The next East coordinates. The next said “just for you to enjoy” and the last one said, “Surprise! I’m taking you away for 3 nights, on our own, before we go to Jeffrey’s!”
Well, you’d think I was a kid and he had just bought me a pony! I was hugging and kissing him while winding around roads and my eyes were tearing, making his eyes tear, and all I could say was that no-one had ever made me feel so spoilt and so special. And I said to him, if this is what we are like in this situation, then we won’t even be able to make eye contact at our own wedding ceremony…dun dun dun…
So, he finally gets to explain to me that the ‘fairy’ is the ferry that will be carrying us across the Kei River Mouth to the Trennerys Hotel in East London, which is famous for it’s Saturday night Seafood Extravaganzas. The coordinates obviously lead to the Hotel and the rest is self-explanatory.
When we arrive at the ferry, only then do I realize that our entire car will be taken across the river and this little flotation device with a makeshift steering wheel and 4 towny crewmembers will be our lifeboat until we get to the other side. How much fun!?
We were absolutely exhausted when we booked into the hotel and were told that it would be raining for the next 3 days. This was followed by a very upset Craig paging through the list of activities that were on offer (all outdoor) which we couldn’t do. I put it down to hangriness (angry because you’re hungry), but then even after having our first dinner, he still looked impossible to cheer up. I put that down to being beat from the long drive.
In the morning, after breakfast we checked the weather prediction hoping for a miraculous change, but no such luck and Craig again looked like the world was going to come to an end if he had to spend a whole day indoors with me. I had nooo problem, with that, but I of course didn’t know he had ulterior motives. So, in order to lift his spirits a bit I told him to pack a backpack so we could go and find that nearby shipwreck he was so intrigued by and if we got caught in the rain, we got caught in the rain. What’s the worst that could happen!?
Sudden energy just burst from him and he was running to the reception desk and the bar and the restaurant to ask this and that question, and organize this and that, while I slowly readied myself for just another beach walk.
Despite the weather, the beauty of this coastline was unbelievable. I looked around me and I could see unending seas to the right, and to my left changing scenery including lagoons lapping at our feet, caves and natural stone bridges and mini-waterfalls, and steep cliffs that if you looked straight up, you’d be surprised to see a Nguni cow wagging it’s tail above your head. My exact words were, “This place is like a dream, nothing feels real!” At this point Craig said he wanted to add “Well, it’s going to feel even more like a dream in a few minutes,” but of course he bit his tongue.
We continued for about 2 hours holding each other to keep warm, holding hands, stopping now and again to take photos, and eventually Craig said “OK, lets climb up this last rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and if we can’t see the wreck around that bend, we can head back” We climbed up and were appreciating the views, me standing in front, and him standing behind me holding me tight around the waist, and then he started telling me much he loves me, and how much his life has changed for the better since having me in his life. And of course I’m responding to each line, “yes, me too, yes, you too” and Craig’s thinking…’Just let me speak man! I’ve got a speech planned here!” While continuing to tell me how special I am to him, and how much I mean to him, I feel him fiddling in his pocket with this other arm still around me. Even THEN, I had no idea what was about to happen. He proceeded then to turn me around, get down on one knee amongst all the broken shells (40 meters above the beach) and offered me the ring, asking if I, Lauren Joshua, will marry him.
My response was teary eyes, shaking all over, staring into his eyes, and the first thing out of my mouth was “WHAT?! This must be a dream, it has to be a dream!?” After more gazing into each other’s eyes, Craig struggling on a sharp, uncomfortable uneven surface, says, “Well? What do you say?” And I responded, “YES! Of course YES!” And that’s how the story of the rest of our life together began!
I must just add that his whole family, my whole family and all his work colleagues had been in on everything since December 2012 and they were able to fool me. Even the hotel knew because all his trips backwards and forwards to the reception was for the champagne he brought with (together with hidden champagne flutes). I guess I’m not as perceptive as I thought! He had been up and down to the jeweler (through whom Craig designed the ring himself), just down the road from my work, umpteen times hoping to God that I wouldn’t catch him, or see the website history at home. He even went to the effort of unfolding each Easter egg and making a microscopic incision in each egg to insert the fortune, then rewrapped them and sealed the woolies netting! I felt and still feel so honoured to be engaged to such a good man and someone who makes me feel so appreciated, adored and special!