At the end of January, we found we were "in favor" of marriage. I felt so excited and at the same time a little anxious. Was I sure I was sure about this? But I didn't have any complaints about Acius - it was more like the opposite (I had plenty of compliments for him). He and his family are funny in entirely new ways when compared to me and my family (not to say that I'm dull, just that novelty has certain perks, especially w/r/t humor). Acius is really everything I wanted in a man. After a few more weeks I felt really good about marriage. I told Acius I was sure about it and he just said he'd known for a while that he was sure about it. I wanted to tell everyone! Acius said he was more traditional and wanted to wait until he had a ring for me. This almost made telling my parents about my "secret engagement" more fun. I had the thrill of a little guilt in keeping a secret, relief in finding someone willing to put up with me forever, and excitement about starting a new lifestyle (which will include a real shower and our own kitchen!).
Acius is a fan of Japanese food, language, entertainment, and culture. To be honest I've always thought that Japan is pretty cool (although since it's popular right now it's harder for me to admit that). I had two Japanese pen-pals growing up, I spent a lot of time researching Japanese customs online over long summer internet surfings, I made origami cranes obsessively, I watched what anime I could access, and we hosted a few Japanese students when I was young. Acius and I were watching a Japanese drama with his friends and in the show they celebrated Valentine's Day and later White Day. Basically, in Japan, women give men chocolates (or ties) on Valentine's Day, and then a month later, men return the favor with chocolates or cookies. White day is kind of interesting because it was invented by confectionery companies (like our Valentine's Day). So I feel completely justified in adopting a custom that isn't steeped in religious significance. And I think it's more fun to stretch it out - what else is there in March? St. Patrick's Day?
So, Acius was sick on Valentine's Day, which was on a Sunday. I had made these lovely dark chocolate truffles, and I had a treasure hunt that went with it (my mom always made us treasure hunts for Valentine's day; I'm not sure how that started). Alas, it was not to be quite as I planned. I dropped the treasure hunt and hitched a ride with Adam's parents who were bringing dinner to the temporarily-invalid. It turns out that even a sick Acius is capable of appreciating good chocolate.
With some various hints, I knew Acius was planning his retaliation on White Day (a month later), but I wasn't sure how. He picked me early to have dinner at his parents' house, still in his shirt and tie, and he gave me a box of chocolates. We went to Kiwanis park and walked around (I left the chocolates in the car). After some stalling, Acius suggested going back to the car. I read a nice letter he gave me and he said he wanted to tell me about the chocolates he bought me. I noticed that it had the outer wrapping of See's candies, but not the side seals. I thought that it might be a custom collection and they wrapped it differently. Anyway, I opened them up and there was a ring in the middle. Acius (it's so weird to use his internet moniker) started to explain the chocolates: "These are chocolate truffles, these are the ginger chocolate ones, these ones on the side are different fruit flavors, and this is the will-you-marry-me one..."
"Of course I will!"
Afterwards we told his family and everyone was smiley and happy for us. It seems like everyone has a little advice for how to plan a wedding, but luckily no one so far has weird demands (well, except Acius's sister, who said we should have veggie sushi, but I think we were kidding). I'm sure Acius could tell a long story about how the ring almost didn't arrive in time, and how he had to wrap the chocolates himself - but I'll leave that to him. ;-)