Thomas and I worked together this summer in Etna, California at a guest ranch (clearing up myth number 1 that he flew to Cali to propose). This summer was amazing. I got to see him lead, serve, grow, be humbled and had the unique opportunity to share a community together. Because we are long distance, this is the first time we’ve had this experience of being neighbors. Being proposed to away from home was probably not ideal to most people but for me it meant so much that we were able to share this moment with everyone including all of our lovely friends at the ranch because they had been a huge part of the maturation of our relationship.
On this specific evening, I had finished work early and showered and put on a nice outfit for dinner but was a little early. I hung out at the lodge with a few friends chatting, laughing, looking at pictures-a couple of them knew what the night had to offer. Thomas came up and said he had been packing (we were leaving California to come home to SC in the next few days) and asked if I wanted to go on one more motorcycle ride before the end of the summer. (He brought out his motorcycle to the ranch-it was our date nights). “Yeah! I’d lov- wait…I have to finish some laundry. I can’t tonight, what about tomorrow?” All of a sudden, my friends at the table persisted and gave me reasons why laundry was unimportant and even offered to do it for me. So, I said yes that I would go with him.
We left dinner early to preform a skit for the guests at the ranch. Conveniently, it was the “dating skit.” When we left dinner, everyone on staff was informed of what was happening that night. After we finished preforming the skit, we hopped on the motorcycle and headed off property. At that point, I had NO idea anything was happening; however, I did realize everyone was being so friendly to me. He offered to take me to “the bridge,” a special place we’ve had this summer to watch sunsets and such. So we headed there.
When we ride on the motorcycle, he turns his right side-view mirror to face me so he can wink and flirt while we’re riding. This time, he told me later it was to see my reaction when we pulled up.
When we were getting closer to the bridge, I realized it was glowing and kept glancing at the sun to see if maybe it was a reflection. “No, no sun tonight. What is that?” We drove up, he down shifted and we stopped. The bridge was covered in candles and daisies (he left me daisies on my belongings when he didn’t have time to talk some days). All of a sudden, our song came on-“Forever Like That” by Ben Rector. At this point, I caught on and my heart started racing. He brought me over to the set up and started telling me all that I meant to him. He sat me down on the bench that was placed there and went back to the motorcycle and retrieved the ring. He came back over, got down on one knee and asked, “Rachel McAfee, will you marry me.”
And here’s how it goes from there.