I’ll get straight to the big news from last week: Amanda and I got engaged.
The impromptu proposal happened in Estes Park, Colorado, on the front steps of The Stanley Hotel. During the day, these steps offer an excellent view of Longs Peak, the sole 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park. But our moment was hardly as picturesque: it was dark, with a temperature in the 20’s and a 15-mph northwest wind. Hey, I know how to pick ’em.
Our engagement probably shouldn’t take anyone by surprise. We’ve been dating since December 2010, and living together since May 2012. “Her” cat had become “our” cat. Last month we started working together. We’d endured extended absences apart, a white-knuckled 35-minute drive between residences when together, and a sweltering 600 square-foot apartment during last summer’s record heat. And, perhaps most important, long ago we’d become best friends.
A mutual friend of ours who recently got married used to insist that, “You should know after a year.” In retrospect, I suppose I did, but it took me twice that long to finally act. I have only one explanation for the delay: first, I had to grow up.
When Amanda and I first met, I was 29 years-old and fresh off my Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the last trip in a bout of hiking awesomeness that started when I was 21. In many ways, I hadn’t aged even a day during this time. In lieu of a reliable address, I was still officially living with my parents. To minimize the hassles of repeated settling in or packing up, I could still transport all of my possessions in my Pontiac Vibe and I was still renting month-to-month. Most of my intimate relationships were still like summer flings, with their endings coinciding with the start of my next hike; there was no doubt that I operated as one-person unit. And while my earnings could support my dirtbag existence, I felt that they provided woefully inadequate security for a prospective mate.
Two years later, I think that most fathers would agree that I’m better marriage material, with a beautiful home, a reliable business, and greater maturity. Amanda — Thanks for being patient and supportive while I caught up on this nest-building. I look forward to growing up and growing older with you.