Every girl daydreams about being proposed to and how she most wants that moment to happen. Every woman who has ever been proposed to will remember that moment for the rest of her life. In some rare and magical instances, the girlhood daydream is transformed into reality by a man who cares enough about that dream to learn it and aid in its formation. More often, this event is a moderately close attempt at romance as re-imaged by a man being advised by at the very least four different people all at once (a friend of hers, a friend of his, a relative of hers, and a relative of his, all hopefully women). And then there are those who receive the type of proposal that is solely derived from a sense of obligation. I was one of those.
Jim and I met in high school through mutual friends at the beginning of my Junior year and his Senior. My high school had a few of the typical cliques, but it also had a fair amount of people like me, who were not associated with any one clique but tended to drift from group to group with friends in all of them. Jim was also one of these types; it seemed that everyone knew him and genuinely liked him. I'm not sure how exactly we ended up being "officially boyfriend-girlfriend", but we did and I quickly became known as Jim's Girlfriend. We did typical small-town couple activities, lots of movie watching and double dates and In-N-Out. We were each others first everything. We got each other into trouble with our parents. We went to Prom and Homecoming together. We were in love.
Jim enlisted in the Air Force.
I always knew he would, he was in ROTC and his father and his grandfather had been in the military. I didn't think that it was a fantastic idea, but I acknowledged that there were not many options open to a high school senior with mediocre grades and an average SAT score. I supported that it was his decision to make. We often talked about the future and being together through the hard times he would face. Then he found out that he was color-blind and would not, in fact, be able to become a military pilot. He would become a linguist, and his first language assignment was to be Mandarin Chinese. This meant that he would go to Basic Training (Boot Camp for all other branches of the military) for six weeks in Texas and then immediately start his linguistic training in Monterrey for six months, after which he would most likely be stationed in Japan. I would be graduating high school around that time, give or take a month.
One Sunday morning, Jim and I were discussing this very topic and I mentioned how difficult it would be to be apart for such a long time. He got an odd look on his face and fell silent. A few minutes later he said, "What if we weren't apart for that long?" I asked him what he meant, to which he replied, "If we were married you would move with me when I went to Japan." I agreed that this was indeed true, since being married meant living together and such. He asked me "Do you think we should do that?" I said I did and just like that I was seventeen years old and engaged to be married in less that one year.