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The Engagement

Now this is a story that will be told many times and as I was told, “has to be told at the wedding.”

It all began on a chill early morning at 4am. I had told Nichole that we had to get up early for a surprise. After rousing her out of bed, we began driving from my house in Detroit and Nichole couldn’t stop trying to guess where we were going. As we approached the bridge to Canada, she laughed saying, “haha, we can’t be going to Canada!” Right then I turned away from the bridge to stop and get some gas.

Now the car was fueled and I was driving directly to the Ambassador Bridge to take us to Canada. “Canada! What are doing in Canada?” Nichole asked. As hard as it was I told her she would have to wait. I had taken her passport from her room the previous week so that we could get across the border easily. Little did I know. . .

We paid and went through the US side, passing Ambassador Bridgge’s span across the Detroit River with some magnificent views, to arrive in Canada. At the Canadian customs booth I was asked the general questions:

Customs: “Where are you going in Canada?”

Me: “Toronto”

Customs: “What are you going to do there?”

Me: “Ride bikes.”

Customs: “Really? Do you know anyone there?”

Me: “No, I visited there once and thought it’d be nice to take a trip there again.”

Customs: “Did you know that the G20 Summit is taking place?”

Me: “Oh shoot, I had completely forgot.”

Customs: (Hands me a yellow ticket) Please pull forward and the agents will be with you shortly.

As I pulled forward into the area where they search your car, my heart started racing. What am I going to do now, we are going to be late for the sunrise, why did I have to say Toronto!

In a perfect take for a movie where the police are showing their force, a team of Canadian police (homeland security types) in commando gear saunter over to the car and ask us to step out. They ask me if there is any alcohol or weapons in the car. I say, “No,” but there is a bottle of champagne in the back. As they open all the car doors my mind and heart are still racing. I watch as they find the bag with the ring and the champagne hoping immensely that they don’t blow it for me. Thankfully the lead officer calls me to the back of the car and quietly asks, “Is this [ring] for her?” I say yes. With a huge smile on his face, “Ten-four, you’re all set. Give this ticket to the lady behind the counter and you’ll be on your way.”

Whew! My stress level begins to drop. Nichole and I walk into the customs office and hand the yellow ticket to the lady at the counter. She must not have been informed of the “ten-four” because she starts asking questions with no smile on her face at all. “Where are you going? What are you doing? Do you even know of any bike paths in Toronto? You really had no idea that the G20 was happening? This looks very sketchy.” Then she gave us the final blow, “In my years working here, this is the sketchiest story I’ve ever heard.”

Crap, now I was toast. They lady had us sit in the waiting room while she ran our passports and checked our backgrounds. She called me in separately from Nichole and began telling me her verdict. “As a customs agent my job is to assess whether people entering Canada are going to pose any risks. With no real plan, no cash on hand, and really no idea where you are going I’m going to have to deport you back to the US.” My heart was in the very pit of my stomach as I scrambled for what to say to convince her. “We’re not really going to Toronto,” I said. “I’m going to propose to my girlfriend at Point Pelee for sunrise.”

While now she thought I was insane and gave me a nasty look. “Really? How long have you been dating?” I told her almost 2 years. “Do you have a ring?” I said that I did in the car. “Go get it.” So I ran out to the car and snuck the ring into the customs office to prove that my story was legit. I showed the customs lady and she started to chuckle a bit with a big grin on her face. “Now go take that back to the car and this time don’t be so obvious or your girlfriend is going to think something is up. You are going to have to tell this story at the wedding.” I thanked her a million times and told her that the story would most definitely be told.

All the while Nichole was sitting in the waiting room with me going in and out, quite confused as to what was happening. I told her they just asked for the car registration and that we were all set now. We drove the hour and a half to Point Pelee where a tornado had recently torn through and arrived before the national park was even open. Storms had swept through the night before and it was still a gray and windy morning, but we hiked out to a nice area of the beach. As we looked out at the water I hoped the sun would peak through the clouds, pulled out the ring, and got on one knee, “Habibi, I love you more than much and that’s a whole lot more than a little and I’m going to need a lifetime to show it. Will you marry me?”

After she said yes, we drank the champagne, walked on the beach and headed back to Detroit. The only eventful happening was stopping at Tim Horton’s because we were so hungry only to find out that they don’t accept Visa (and as the customs agent reminded us, we had no cash). Oh Canada!

Check out the Mackinac Island Engagement Photoshoot (Thanks Molly!)

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