In honor of my three year wedding anniversary (today!!!), here’s the story of how it all began… “it” being the wedding process. How we met is for a different time.
Many women tend to be high maintenance. I like to think that I’m not. In fact, my mother used to tell me as a kid that I’d make a really cheap date some day because I’d much rather eat a home-cooked meal than go out to a restaurant. Still, a proposal is please G-d something that you only go through once in a lifetime, and I wanted something special. I believe the exact words I told my husband (then boyfriend, but for the remainder of this post I’ll be referring to him as “my husband”) were, “something worthy of a Disney princess.” I even gave him fair warning that if it didn’t reach my expectations, I would simply say “no” and make him try again until he got it right. Sure enough, after an entire month of planning (which I did not know was going on, as he had started planning the proposal before I even knew if I wanted to marry him or not) and the involvement of half of Jerusalem’s population (as well as some out-of-towners), I got my proposal.
At 9:00 in the morning I received a text message on my phone telling me to go downstairs and check my mailbox. In it I found an envelope with the following message written inside:
So begins a day of fun.
You’ll see me before it’s done.
Now don’t get prickly – it’s for the better,
But go ’round the corner to prickly
things – for a surprise and a letter.
Well, that really threw me for one. “Go ’round the corner to prickly things…” Well, Jerusalem’s dry weather means that most plants are “prickly things,” and after going ’round the street corner, the yard corner, the building corner, and my apartment corner and coming up with nothing, I sent a text message asking for help. The response: “Where you bought one, that’s in your room.” Realizing he was referring to the cactus I bought, I went to the flower shop “’round the corner” and down the street where I bought it. There I found my surprise (my best friend, who my husband so cleverly thought to invite so I wouldn’t be lonely over the next few hours collecting clues – we will call her Shaniqua for privacy’s sake) and my next clue:
Pieces are starting to come together
A few more things are needed, however
Go – not far – with Shaniqua by your side
To where it smells like Aladdin’s bride
Wait there for a sign
You won’t wait long, by design.
Aladdin’s bride was clearly referring to Jasmine, and “smells like [Jasmine]” was clearly referring to the plant, of which there is nothing on this planet to equal its smell. The closest Jasmine bush I knew of was around the corner from my husband’s apartment – a bush that we passed quite often on dates. Grabbing Shaniqua, I began the 10-minute-walk to his apartment. Part way down the street we passed a friend (I will call him Bob) sitting in his car on the side of the road. He asked where we were going and if we wanted a ride. The weather was ever so nice, the walk was short, and love was in the air. I declined ever so sweetly. Then, before I had time to react, I was forcibly pushed into the car, kidnapped by my own friends. Amidst the confusion, Bob gave me the next clue, but I refused to read it until he took me to the Jasmine bush, convinced that there was something for me there. Sure enough, there was an entire bush of sweet smelling white flowers (isn’t my husband so sweet?). No letters though. With a sigh, I read my next clue:
We’ll proceed, in due time
But first instructions, all in rhyme
All games have rules – this doesn’t differ
Be it wishes, apples, or ruby slippers.
Some things are hidden in plain view,
Some must be asked for – so please do.
You’ll work it out – I know you’re clever.
Now on to the clue in this letter:
Tell the driver to head towards town,
But look out the windows – up, not down.
It was going to be a hot air balloon. I just knew it! My guy was gonna propose to me in a hot air balloon! Except there were no hot air balloons in the sky above town. No sky writing either. In fact, the sky was quite empty. Luckily, my chauffeur didn’t have his eyes on the road and saw a large banner hanging off of an apartment’s porch reading, “ANNA COME UP HERE.” So we pulled over, I ran out and up a few flights of stairs to find my fourth clue taped to the apartment door.
Now we’re starting to pick up speed
Go to Kikar Tzion, and take heed.
Since parking in the center of Jerusalem is hard to come by, Shaniqua and I chose to walk. And behold! At Kikar Tzion was a knight in shining armor! (Complete with cape and plumed helmet that covered his entire face.) This mysterious knight said nothing in response to my questions, but I suspected I knew which friend was underneath the costume. After he gave me the next clue, Shaniqua and I hid a short distance away to see if he’d take the helmet off so I could confirm my suspicions. Instead we saw two fully armed policemen (looked more like a SWAT unit, actually) approach the knight and tell him to remove the armor because he was scaring people. Seriously, what stupid terrorist would hide a bomb under metal armor?! (Answer: A suicidal bomber with no desire to hurt anyone but himself.) And honestly, those SWAT guys looked a heck of a lot scarier. But I digress. The fifth clue read:
Up Ben Yehuda, up you go
When you see this one, you’ll know.
And I did! Sure enough, on my way up Ben Yehuda I met a mime (a friend dressed up as a mime actually). She “picked” me a “flower” and “gave” it to me, along with the next clue:
Back to the beginning it’s time to go
We first went out, long ago
In this place with books on the walls
Talk to the cashier, make the call.
This one threw me for a bit of a loop. For our first date we went to a restaurant in town by the name of Tmol Shilshom, known for having shelves lined with books and reading corners. Except I had only ever been there once – on our first date – and since the weather was so nice, we ate outside. I’d never seen the inside. (Perhaps hubby dearest confused me with another girl he took inside?) Anyway, confused by the “books on the walls” part of the clue, I decided to go ahead to that first restaurant we went to. I approached the cashier who looked at me with an intrigued face. He then told me that I look familiar from somewhere… from a dream. A little freaked out, I asked if he had something for me (wow, this whole business is sounding very sketchy right about now). He whipped out the next clue. When I asked him for real how he knew who I was when I walked in, he showed me two printed photographs of me (one with hair up, one with hair down – because I apparently look like a different person each way) that my husband had given him in advance. Phew, not a stalker. Clue #7 read:
Nearby, there’s another place that we dined.
Go outside – it’s not hard to find.
We were inside, last week in this very spot.
We three ate inside, but the next clue is not.
The week before we had eaten out at an excellent restaurant (excellent because they serve home-style food… cheap date, remember?) called The Village Green with a friend who was visiting from America. Sure enough, I went to the restaurant and saw the next clue lying on a table outside:
You must listen up and listen well.
Don’t worry about sight or smell.
Go to the shuk and you’ll hear a sign.
You’ll know at once that it’s mine.
During the 10 minute walk to the shuk, I envisioned loudspeakers blaring our song (not that we had a song… it was more like a whole bunch of songs… or any song we had ever heard together) out loud for everyone to hear… something like the scene from 10 Things I Hate About You where Heath Ledger and the marching band serenade Julia Stiles…
Anyway, I got to the shuk and heard nothing above the noise of the crowd. And then I heard it… the sweet tunes of Bryan Adam’s Everything I Do being played by a street performing violinist trying to make a few shekels off his talent. As my husband wrote in the clue, I knew that it was him at once. After the song ended, I received my next clue:
We claim no chairs nor stools as ours.
No houses and no cars.
But there is a bench we both hold dear
For sentiment, to be sure, your next clue is here.
This one took me a while. In the short time we dated we sat on many benches and had fond memories of a bunch of places. First I went to the bench in a park in our neighborhood where we ended up one night around midnight when the sprinklers suddenly went off. (Naturally, we kicked off our shoes and went running through the sprinklers.) When there was no note there, I next went to the bench nearest to my apartment where we had stayed up talking a number of times. No luck there either. And then it hit me! I knew where it was! At the end of one of our dates we ended up on some backstreet we we sat down on a bench for some three hours or so talking. The problem was, I had no clue how to find that place again. After one or two (or ten) wrong turns, I finally found the bench again, and on it my next clue:
The “plan” is stupid, so we said,
And yet I can’t get it out of my head.
That where we sat down after the break,
I was filled with happiness I cannot shake.
I see here that I must explain, but I warn you… the story may make you gag. As you may know, my husband and I got engaged after only three months of dating. Living 10 minutes away from each other meant seeing each other daily, which kind of expedited the whole process. In order to be sure that we were not caught up in the moment, we devised The Plan. We would not see each other nor speak to each other for three whole days, during which time we would try to collect ourselves and take a look at our relationship without the rose-colored glasses that we had developed. (My husband even blocked me on Facebook!) Anyway, the consensus was that the plan was stupid. We already knew after the first day and a half that it was the real thing, but as we could not communicate, we could not call it off. So there we were, five minutes before midnight at the end of the third day, when we ran into each other walking to each others apartments. Great minds think alike. After he procured a rose for me, we walked down some side-street where we sat and discussed the events of the last three days. I thought I had remembered where that spot what where we sat down, but at the time I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t really care where I was. Sure enough, in trying to find my clue I went down a parallel side-street and proclaimed the clue to be missing. Fortunately Bob had a master list of all the clues (albeit not their locations), so I was able to receive the next one even without finding the hard copy:
Ok, back to Emek, back you go,
And walk up on the right, not fast or slow.
Another sign will come your way.
We’re almost done, so don’t go astray.
At this point, Shaniqua had to take leave for her afternoon classes, leaving just Bob and myself. So Bob drove me back to Emek (Emek Refaim that is – the busy street my husband lived on at the time) and dropped me off at the closest corner. I had no clue as to what I should be looking for, and as I passed the residential area into the shopping and restauranted area, I thought perhaps that I had missed it. Just as I was debating whether to turn around, I saw a friend of ours handing out vouchers for Tav Chevrati, so I went over to talk. We got caught up in conversation. When she asked me where I was going/what I was doing, I told her that I believed myself to be in the midst of being proposed to. With a genuine look of surprise on her face, she told me then that I’d best be going on my way. She handed me a voucher and said goodbye. After I took a few steps away I decided that I might as well try my luck and asked her if she had anything else for me. Sure enough, with a sly smile on her face, he pulled my next clue out of the voucher envelope. Sneaky sneaky. It read thus:
The train tracks are no place to play
And yet we had so much fun that day.
We ended by climbing to a place up high,
Where your next clue is, if you try.
If you need more proof that I live in a movie, this is it. When we were dating, I was inspired to go bumming along the entire length of the old (and unused) Jerusalem train tracks at sunrise (most likely inspired by scenes from movies such as the famous train tracks scene in Stand By Me). So one morning we awoke extra early, and beginning at the corner of Emek, we walked through the overgrowth on the old train tracks, letting it lead us wherever it would. After walking for a long time through vast areas of nothing, interspersed with an occasional backyard, it ended abruptly at a children’s park by Malcha Mall. We climbed up to the top of the highest tower/slide, where we finally sat and congratulated ourselves on a job well done. It was there that my next clue now awaited me. Unfortunately having only ever found the park after walking along train tracks, it was somewhat more difficult to give Bob driving directions, but we found it nonetheless, and my clue awaited me at the top of the tallest tower. [I must interrupt the story here with a side story that occurred simultaneously that I only found out about afterwards. You see, planning something on this scale required A LOT of forethought. For instance, clues could not be left lying around in public places for hours on end until I’d arrive, lest they be swept up or removed by someone else. So for each clue, my husband found a friend willing to set it into play at a certain time slightly before the approximate time he expected me to show up. The willing friend this time was Jacques (also not his real name), my husband’s roommate. He made it to the park mere moments before Bob and I arrived. Seeing us coming, he quickly placed the clue at the top of the highest tower, then ran for cover in a nearby bush, where he silently awaited my arrival with a camera in hand. At the time, the park was empty except for a young mother and her little child. I imagine she was duly freaked out after seeing this full-grown man climb up to the tallest tower and then run down to hide in a bush with a camera. Yeah.] Anyway, the final clue read thus:
Ok, we’re at the end – it’s for the best,
But before you see me – a little test.
Which of our dates was your favorite one?
Find me there, then we’re done.
Hint: if it’s relevant,
I’m by the ______.
I remember sitting on the swings in the park making Bob listen to a recounting of all the dates I could remember. Naturally I could leave out any of the date locations where I had been that day already, but that left a good number of others still as possibilities. Bob reminded me that he would happily drive me wherever I wanted to go, even if it took me a few tries to get the right spot. After much deliberation, I decided that my favorite date location was the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. When Bob dropped me off in the zoo’s parking lot and drove away, I found myself completely alone for the first time since that morning. I figured that if this were the correct destination, my husband should have paid for my entrance ticket (seeing as he never told me to bring money). The ticket person on call had no recollection of such a thing and had to phone the person who had been on call before her. In the end, it was the security guard who held my pre-paid ticket and I was let inside. Once in the zoo I had no clue where to go. I hadn’t paid any attention to the last line of the clue, since the first part of it totally threw me. So I found a nice, shady spot and sat down to reread all the clues and see if there was something I missed. Sure enough behind each clue was taped a bit of parchment paper with some lines drawn on. Putting them all together I realized it was a map, but a map to what I had no clue, and without any tape to hold it together, the wind started blowing the pieces in every which direction. I figured he would be by the elephants, since when we were last at the zoo together they were easily my favorite animals. Still, I had a pre-paid ticket to the zoo and it was very rare that I had a chance to go to that enjoyable place, so I took my time walking to the elephants, taking pictures along the way and enjoying the delightful weather. (My husband would later give me a hard time for keeping him waiting when I knew by then that he was proposing. His fault for buying me a free ticket to the zoo.) Anyway, I eventually made it to the elephant enclosure. Just as I approached, my husband jumped out of a tree (just outside the enclosure. He had wanted to do it inside the enclosure, but apparently there were safe issues – elephants don’t take well to strangers – and he didn’t want a mishap to ruin the proposal) where he had been keeping a watch for me, whipped out the ring and proposed. Deciding that this proposal was indeed worthy of a Disney princess, I accepted the proposal.
Over three years later, they’re living happily ever after.
The End. (Or is it just the beginning?)