Day 19 – Engagement Day *Trumpet Fanfare* San Antonio, Texas

DAY: 19

Aaron wakes me, cheerfully…sweetly… “El Mercado, Smoochie, time to wake up and go see El Mercado!”.


Loosely translated that means “I need to run, but its too cold to emerge, I need to go to the bathroom, but I’m not walking up the hill right now. I need a cup of coffee, but we don’t have any cream. Wake me in an hour.”

“We could go to Benjamin’s Kitchen up the road for breakfast?” …he’s a sly one, a clever briber. His wiley ways earn him one open eye, as I try, pirate style, to discern whether or not he means it. He looks hungry. I succumb.

We get on the motorcycle and ride the 900 yards down the jarring dirt and gravel road, huge plumes of dust billowing behind us like a monarchial train, to Benjamin’s Kitchen and as promised it is tiny….unassuming…seafoam green…smack in the middle of some tumbleweed and not much else. The front porch and whole inside are covered with every kind of trinket, hanging pepper, sign, doll…each wall a different color – I’ll say that in November, the land in Texas doesn’t have too much color to it. At first glance its mostly just…tan, but those who live in the Hill Country make up for any lack of pop and depth, and their creativity and hospitallity match their colorful, beautiful surroundings.

I’ve never had “Mexican breakfast” before. Aaron immediately settles on a menu item called “Gringo Breakfast”. I lip at Aaron about trying new things. “We’re in Texas” I say “1300 miles from home…the whole point is to experience new things, you can’t have PANCAKES” I say as I settle on the Huevos Rancheros the “safest” thing I’ve never tried before on the menu. (Aaron reasons “If I don’t like what I try then I have to be hungry. And I’m too hungry to be hungry”) But you know what won the day?

The refried beans.

If thats not just the craziest thing you ever heard of in all your life, but it was true, I put the beans on the potatoes, I put the beans on the eggs, I mixed the beans with the bacon and then I noticed that they had brought me some of those amazing REAL flour tortillas, and if you don’t think I went to town then….several teaspoons of salsa verde and one breakfast burrito later I was applauding this whole “try new things” …thing.

So there we sat, grinning at each other, stealing off each other’s plates…his pancakes really were quite uncommon and good, also, so I helped myself to several bites, drinking coffee and talking about the different things we’ve been learning along the way. And then he becomes serious. He says

“I have a surprise for you. Do you want to know?”

I always want to know.

He says “Do you remember the Hyatt that we saw downtown on the river, last night?”

Oh. I remember. Lush fountains inside, elevators that shoot up like capsule shaped space ships, a full jazz band, gold lights so inviting we found ourselves standing in the lobby just smiling…

“I remember” I say.

“Well,” he continues “We’ll be staying there tonight. If you’d like”

Now I love Magnolia, the Flying Machine. She’s a good little trailer.

But I’m pretty sure the fact that I stopped breathing for an undetermined amount of time gave him all the assurance he needed that I’d be okay with staying away from Magnolia for a night.

As we were leaving we met the owner of Benjamins Kitchen. She saw me taking pictures and came out, a smile as wide as Texas itself on her face. She encouraged the pictures and then said, with softness, “I love the hill country and everything you see on these walls…I put it there, from in my heart, with love” …she paused, looking at us “You two are a good couple, I am pleased to have you here. When you go, don’t forget us. You won’t okay?”

We promise that we won’t.

So we went into town as planned, saw El Mercado – I’ll leave you to the pictures to get a feel for it there. Too much fun, wandering and shopping and playing instruments and trying on hats …too much fun. Then we went back to “camp” to pack up and check into the hotel.


This was our room. Floor to ceiling windows looking out over the city of San Antonio. I must’ve hugged him eight times, gleeful. We found out that they had a rooftop pool and hot tub and a penthouse workout room, which I immediately took advantage of. I came back downstairs, took a shower…Aaron had told me he was taking us to dinner on the Riverwalk. As I finish in the bathroom, I hear music. He knocks on the door “Could you come out?”

He has champagne and chocolate, music and candles (On the computer screen.) “Just a little treat to tide us over until supper.”

We talk, eyes locked…”what have you learned today?” he asks…I say “that love is what you make it, and we’ve made it wonderful”…his eyes fill with tears, as he turns to look out over the city, now slipping into sunset like an evening dress. Just out the window bird crest and slip, turning and rolling in exquisite formation – free and effortless and from my seat here over the city I imagine we’re with them…it feels like that, just a little bit…today does.


We finish our chocolate, get ready to go out…in our duds that we bought the night before. He tells me quietly “If its okay, I made reservations for us at The Fig Tree” …I am stunned…The Fig Tree is easily the most beautiful restaurant on the riverwalk. And he calls me Fig, so already it seemed special. I find myself just making little “ummmm” sounds, as I stare at him excitedly. He laughs, pleased with himself, and hugs me.

He’s got his bag packed, I’ve got my boots on, and we head out…evening, a little cool, but beautiful. We stroll, taking our time, visiting La Villita again until we finally head over to the restaurant. Every bit of the service is crisp, like a finely tuned instrument, precise…elegant…seamless. The waiter’s phrasing is like that of a classically trained opera singer, his vowels rounded just so as he names the dishes…

We order, Aaron the steak and macaroni and cheese with truffle oil, myself the Tuna in a sesame ginger soy sauce.

fig Tree

The food is delicious, even…exquisite, but so was Benjamin’s Kitchen. We talk about how, in life, that seems as thought the trick to being satisfied…its not really that one thing is better than the other, you can’t really compare the two…there aren’t really “finer things” only…different things, each with a quality to be appreciated.

We finish dinner and decide to walk some more, stealing away up a little staircase, which is like one Aaron dreamed about when we first met…he said he saw a curved set of stairs and we were dancing up them, sometimes him pulling me, sometimes me pulling him, sometimes together on the same stair, whirling and laughing…We stood up there, looking out over the river before finally continuing on.

It had gotten later in our evening and my shoes were getting the better of me, so, seeing two benches I pulled on his arm, “lets stop and sit a while, shall we?”

He looks at me, intensely…surprised…”Sure. Lets” so we do, and he pulls the laptop out of the bag…there happens to be a plug close to where we’re sitting, so he puts on some music and takes out our little portable hard drive…he begins to play our pictures, one after the other, the last three years rolling before us, our smiling faces, friends smiling faces….mom….family…we relive and find ourselves so intensely thankful for everything…we sit for over an hour and then finally he asks me if I’d like to walk a little more.

A few feet down the sidewalk and then “We have to stop here” …he says it lightly. We were here last night, it is a little island maybe…three feet away from the sidewalk connected by a little stone bridge. Last night as were leaving it, a rio taxi floating down the river sailed by, the guide loudly announcing “And this is marriage island” …and we chuckled. Now he takes my hand and pulls me over to the benches, carved with hearts. I look over at him to talk, but he looks thoughtful, so I wait.

He begins “Tonight we got to celebrate our past and our present but I know these things won’t even compare to what’s to come …” he stops again “Your mom really wanted to see San Antonio and I feel like this would honor her”… has tears in his eyes and he kisses me, and looks me in the eye “I love you miss Figgy”

I love him too. My heart sings softly “…reminds me of the one I love, deep in the heart of Texas…”

He takes my hand, slides off the bench and onto one knee, his hand in his pocket

“Miss Figgy, will you marry me?”

He opens the box, something shines

(It’s the tears in my eye? It’s all the stars in heaven, leaning in for a closer look. It’s the fire in my heart and I feel the word “yes” wrestle its way through my throat in an urgent, deliberate whisper…)

“Oh yes. Aaron…”

I knocked him over then, on marriage island, laughing and crying and muttering wildly “oh my God, oh….”

And him, laughing crazy and sweet and he yells “SHE SAID YES” …and then I yell “I DID! I SAID YES!” and then he asks me if I’d like to see my ring which is laying on the bench, where he barely had time to set it before I poured myself into his arms…it fits perfectly.



A kind man took a picture of my fiancé and I. I haven’t stopped smiling, him either.

We talked about it afterward, walking back. He told me how relieved he was, how difficult it was for him to keep this secret for over 20 days. He told me how glad he was that he got to ask my mom for her blessing for the two of us before she passed…her in the hospital and him…standing over her, holding her hand as he asked her and she…nodding furiously in response, with all the energy she had. And then my dad…he told me he called my dad that morning. I melt because he’s spectacular, the way he gives and loves and learns and lives. The way he made this day (a day that every girl imagines) so right and wonderful…such a magnificent surprise…we laugh as we relive the way everything went just…perfectly…I am convinced that I am the luckiest girl…

This is the news from San Antonio…

That Love Is What You Make It…And For Us Its Wonderful.

(Thanks for indulging the more personal entry, but I’m pretty excited! I don’t have the steam to post all of our pictures tonight, but I’ll make a gallery tomorrow. )

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