I've known that Lana was the smoked salmon to my everything bagel for a while now but I wasn't sure how and when I was going to make it official. It became increasingly clear, the more I agonized over it, that the place we met and bonded would be the only place to do that. Beautiful beaches are a nice place to get engaged, but it didn't feel like us. That realization happened exactly seven days before we left for Burning Man. I also didn't want to be one of those couples (no offense, to 'those' couple reading) that dated for multiple years where engagement was just the last thing on the list to do. I wanted to catch Lana by surprise when she wasn't expecting it and show my commitment to her and our future. (Sounds riskier than it actually was.) I know what I've been searching for in a partner and Lana checked all the boxes and more that I didn't even know existed. Put another way, I needed to lock it down before she changed her mind about me. So, there I was, 7 days to go, in NYC, with no ring or plan and strong conviction. Time to get to work.
Step 1: Call Steph (Lana's sister)
Highlight: Tears + happy squealing
Step 2: Call Lana's Parental Unit and obtain permission
Highlight: "I have no objections" - Lev, Lana's father
Step 3: Design non-Diamond ring
Highlight: There was no way I was going to be able to swing a real engagement ring in time so I called up Tini (who made the turquoise necklace that many of my non-jewelry wearing New York friends make fun of), to design a ring to match the necklace Lana made me for my birthday two years ago.
Step 4: Plan surprise
Highlight: This is the only surprise I've ever been able to keep from Lana. Ever. She has ruined every other one.
Step 5: Keep surprise
Highlight: 40 seconds before I was going to propose, somebody who I had met 2 hours prior (~4AM), came over and said "Happened??" to which I replied, "no, go away." Close call. Lana was still oblivious. Phew
Step 6: Get our talented friend Kirill to photograph the magic moment (THANK YOU!)
Highlights: No phones so had to make a plan ahead of time. "Meet at the 9PM side of the temple at 6AM." Worked like a charm.
Step 7: Disseminate information for maximum surprise impact
Highlights: I emailed a small number of folks to gather people on my behalf to make sure everyone who needed to be there would know with no paper trail tracing back to me to avoid Lana overseeing an email she wasn't supposed to see.
The Pre-Party: 12am-5am
Before we went out, we decided to disco nap from 10PM - 12AM. This was a prudent move but I was terrified that we wouldn't wake up because... well.. our bodies were battered after 5 days in the harsh desert sun + general partying. Our trusty alarm went off and I was able to force Lana out of bed after much grunting. After 1.5 hours of logistical meetups snafus, we arrived at Charlie the Unicorn -- a giant pink unicorn art car with loud thumping beats and candy cane stripper poles -- at 1:30AM. Charlie was the group's 2AM meet-up point and because there were no phones all plans need to be made in advance, just like Shabbat! The dance party was epic. Too epic. I was trying to get Lana alone for about an hour but she refused to leave because we were having too much fun. After our friends started to disperse (at my request) we were finally alone and wandered around the playa looking at some beautiful trippy, blinky night art.
As the sky was starting to turn to day, we headed over to the Temple. Once we arrived at the Temple, my heart was racing like Charlie Sheen after a Tuesday afternoon cocaine binge. It was really happening. A Major Life Moment was about to take place whilst wearing baggy golden pants and a chef jacket with EL-Wire sewed into it after not showering for two days. Once we got to the previously agreed upon spot, I got down on my knee and reached into my bag to pull out the ring box.
Cut to what Lana's brain was thinking at that moment (filled in after the fact): "Adam, it's light out, you can't use your pee bottle anymore."
Audience explanation: In order to avoid having to find a bathroom while wandering around deep playa, I kept a widemouth Gatorade bottle in my backpack at all times. I know this sounds gross but it is actually clever and not an uncommon practice.
Back to the action...
I got down on one knee and started giving my proposal speech which I sadly cannot recall. I was so present in the moment that I was mostly blacked out, Will Ferrell in Old School style. I do know that I said some nice things. What those nice things are? Not 100%... Anyway, 30 seconds in, it became clear to me that Lana still had no idea what was going on, as indicated by the perplexed, 'get off the floor face' so I needed to cut to the chase: "Will you marry me?"
Lana finally got it. And immediately burst out into tears after saying: "What, what are you serious? Yes, of course!"
At this moment everyone around us starting cheering and clapping. Apparently we weren't the only two people there which was a surprise to me as it felt like we were the only two people in the world at that particular moment.
Then a man came out of nowhere, shared some very kind words about love with us and put two very cool necklaces on us and disappeared immediately thereafter.
Moments later a bunch of our friends jumped out of their hiding place and the never ending series of warm, loving hugs began. Lana continued her joyous tears throughout.
Our engagement afterparty (10 minutes later) was a swanky affair. There was fine cheese, delicious champagne, and The Human Experience dj'ed perched atop a Golden Dragon while everyone was wearing white as the sun came up over the mountains. It was picture perfect as we were surrounded by close friends. Lana spent most of the time crying. And we peed maybe 20 times (in bathrooms, not gatorade bottles). It was great.
The After Afterparty
After biking home at 8:30AM with an empty camelback and dry mouth that made my tongue feel like sandpaper, we slept till 2PM. Glorious glorious slumber.