July 4th, 2008
Gravel crunches loudly under our feet as we cross the sunlit parking lot. Ahead, stairs beckon into the dim forest. A wooden sign announces that this is the way up to Looking Glass Rock. Ducking into the woods, our eyes slowly adjust from the piercing sunlight to a world of shadows. Occasional rays of light penetrate the gloom.
Drew and I have become Frodo and Sam, walking the ethereal wood of a different land. The trail is narrow, so we take turns leading. A small stream gurgles happily somewhere below and to the right of us. We are familiar with this trail, having hiked it many times. First, it’s a walk through the woods, followed by a long series of switchbacks that culminate with the ridge.
We reach a massive slab of rock on the ridge and throw ourselves down. Trees edge along the rock like an eager audience. The sun beats down on our bare arms. Drew rifles through the small backpack, searching for a band aid. Several years ago, he carved a message for me on this rock and took a picture of it. It was the first time he told me he loved me. Still searching for his band aid, he suggests I look for the message. I walk across the rock and there it is, facing the heavens: “Andrew loves Viktorija.”
But there’s more.
“Will you marry me? 7/4/08.”
I slowly turn, a smile spreading across my face, knowing that Drew will be there. Coming towards me with a sweet smile on his face, he drops to one knee, one hand grasping a small red box. He repeats the question, asking me to be his family. A tear is slowly sliding down my cheek.
“Yes, yes, YES!”