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Mandi C.

It was a foggy, dreary and rainy Sunday in December. We were both suffering from severe cases of cabin fever. We spent most of the day doing various chores around the house, which ultimately ended up in a bout of playful harassment and a fierce game of Wii Mario Cart. It was early evening and I'd just heated some mini pizzas in the oven when my boyfriend suggested we go for a walk. "Where?" I asked.

"I don't know, maybe the jetty to watch the sunset?" he answered. I gave him an unconvinced look and said, "Have you looked outside? All we will be seeing is a fog set, and it's freezing!" He then began explaining that today was December 21st, the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year. He went on to say it was a day to celebrate because from that point on, each day would be getting longer. I looked at him with a blank stare.

"Come on! It will be fun," he said as he nudged me and switched off the Wii. It wasn't unlike him to suggest things like this, and once my initial hesitation wore off it usually ended up being fun. I decided to quit my sassiness and just be glad for fresh air. I layered myself up and off we went.

We both were born and raised, and continue to live in the coastal town of Santa Cruz, California. The jetty is on one side of the harbor and extends out into the ocean. There is a beautiful lighthouse there, and it's a place we have been coming to for years to sit out on the rocks and watch the gorgeous sunsets together. The view of the bay is phenomenal, and every time I'm out there I feel so thankful for everything beautiful in my life. The view on this particular day was not what I would usually call phenomenal. Instead of radiant colors shooting from the lowering sun, there was a wall of pure gray. The normal crisp blue sky was also pure gray, the temperature was pure cold and the weather pure rainy.

Along we walked, arm and arm and carrying an umbrella that seemed to dump more water on me than it was saving me from. I climbed up on our normal rocks and couldn't help but smile because no matter what kind of weather, this place was still heaven to me. We snuggled together to generate body heat. We spent some time in silence, just taking in the beauty of the place we have the privilege to call home.

We got up to leave, but as we passed the door to the lighthouse, my boyfriend stopped and whipped out his keys, saying, "I wonder if my key will work." I kept walking and said over my shoulder, "Your key isn't going to work because you don't have the key to the lighthouse, dork." Just then I heard a loud click and turned to see the lock fall into his hands. My mouth dropped open and all I could say was, "NO way! How'd you? What?" as he disappeared inside. I had always wanted to go up into the lighthouse and he knew it.

I climbed the tightly spiraled stairway and met him at the top with the biggest grin on my face. "This is so cool!" I squealed. He embraced me tightly and whispered, "I knew you'd like it." The view from the top was amazing. The sun had set behind the gray wall and now the lights of the town were glowing through the fog. The famous Beach Boardwalk's roller coaster and Ferris wheel lights were swaying and flickering, bringing the horizon line to life. We stood there together, facing the vast ocean, holding each other's freezing cold hands.

"Let's say a prayer for the new year," he said, holding me closer. He held my hand and prayed, and then my eyes dropped down to see him on one knee. A small black ring box was in his hand, and he was looking up at me with a boyish grin. My hands immediately flew to my mouth and covered it completely. As he opened the box he looked up at me and said, "Will you marry me?"

I barely even looked at the ring before I said, "Yes!" and threw my arms around his neck and kissed him with all of my being. Then I realized that he was still holding the box with the ring inside. He slipped the ring on, and it was a perfect fit. He had done his homework and somehow found out what size ring I wore!

He then fished out a miniature bottle of bubbly and two little plastic flutes. He could not have done things more perfectly. He could not have expressed his love for me in a better way. He could not have picked a better place, a better ring, a better time or a better date.