I became engaged to dear Husband four years ago today.
He was about to leave for Florida, and our plan was for me to stay in Memphis indefinitely, and continue our courtship via long distance. At least, those were my plans. We had discussed marriage before. I certainly wasn’t ready to part with him for good, I just was young and didn’t see that we had to get married now. It could wait.
That is, until he came to take me to a simple lunch at one of our favorite restaurants nearby my work in downtown Memphis one afternoon. We finished a delicious, but heavy Southern meal fairly quickly, complete with heavenly Neapolitan cake, so decided to take a leisurely stroll in nearby Confederate Park before I dashed back up to my office.
Confederate Park played a pivotal part in the War against the Southern states, where confederate soldiers, such as Nathaniel Bedford Forest were stationed to watch for troops and supplies up the Mississippi River. Over the years, many have tried to change the name of the park, and therefore the history of this spot, but to no avail. The memories are there, and the history, despite motives, cannot be wiped away. Rather than revision history, we should remember, move forward, and learn from our past mistakes.
We often walked along this park, and it was right then and there that he caught me completely off-guard by kneeling down on one knee, right there in front of all the tourists and other professionals on their lunch breaks, and asked me to be his wife. It was one of those moments, slow, caught in time, but quick, in the blink of an eye, that I made the decision — the best decision of my life — that I never wanted to be without this man, that now was as good of a time as any, and that we should spend our lives together.
It wasn’t a complicated, elaborate proposal. So apt, because our story never was. It was in the middle of the day, after a lunch we’d eaten often, and in a park we had visited often. So like Husband to put meaning into something simple, unpretentious. To make our history entwine in a place with so much already there. We later found out, completely unbeknownst to either of us, that his grandfather had proposed to his grandmother in the very spot.
I was never one to believe in “meant to be” before, but I began to believe in it in those very moments. (I also obviously never made it back to work that afternoon, thanks to a very understanding boss.)
So, Confederate Park holds a special place in my heart. The beautiful views, the rich history (and it is part of our history — a part we can learn and grow from, but the South holds confederacy as part of its storied past, for better or worse). It’s a beautiful view of the mighty Mississippi River, entwined with everything that Memphis is, and entwined in the story of my family.