I can still remember the way she looked at me when I asked the question.
We were on vacation. She'd always wanted to see what she'd always called 'the motherland', and so for our 6-year anniversary, I decided to take her there. We went to Zimbabwe, because that's where she wanted to be. It wasn't a surprise or anything, no. That would have been too hard to put together. Maybe it would have been more romantic, maybe it would have seemed spontaneous. I don't know. All I know is that we went, and it was like magic to me. we were there for eleven days, seeing all that we could and just re-connecting to our heritage, a heritage that we were so far removed from in Michigan. The whole time we were there, she barely stopped smiling. There was no time like it for a proposal. So that's what I did.
On our penultimate day there, I woke up just before she did, just to make sure everything was in perfect order. The sun was streaming through the trees, and I set a pot of coffee to boil, ready for her when she awoke, bleary-eyed but happy. I strung a line across the middle of our tent, and on it I put pictures from all the major moments in our life together. One from the first date, one from that time at the zoo where she was so excited to see the penguins. One from when we had our first thanksgiving together. One of us in our apartment, right after moving in. The last one was a picture I had just taken, on a polaroid I bought just for this occasion. That one I hung backwards.
When she woke up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, I was outside the tent, peeking in periodically to see if she was rousing. When I saw that she had, I stayed out back. I pulled the ring out from my pocket and waited. I heard her fumbling inside, stretching and getting up. She called my name.
"Hannah?" I didn't answer her.
I could hear rustling, and I saw the the tent dip ever so slightly, as she took the photos off of the line, one by one. It was quiet now, and I hoped she was looking at the pictures happily. A Few minutes passed, and I heard her get up, unzip the front of the tent. I heard the footsteps crunch their way back towards me. As she rounded the corner, I started beaming. She was holding the last photo, a little confused. Then she saw me, down on one knee. She started crying.
"Will you marry me, Mora?" I asked her, terrified and excited at the same time. My heart was racing, and I barely kept my hands from trembling as I brought the ring forward. She dropped the photo. It was just a picture of the ring box sitting on one of the logs by our campfire.
Tears streaming down her face, she covered her mouth with a hand.