We pulled onto a street called Easy Street. It was dark, because there weren’t any lights on the street, though we could tell it was a suburban street, seemingly quiet. “Which way?” Michael asked. “I think left,” I said, not really knowing. Michael turned the wheel left, and we inched along the road, trying to pick out the numbers on the mailboxes. Jillian spoke up tentatively from the front seat, “I think we passed it.” She was following the map on her iPhone. A thought came to my mind. “Is this the right Easy Street?” Jillian checked her phone and asked, “Easy Street, Austin, right?” I closed my eyes and shook my head. “Easy Street, Jonestown.” After a moment of stunned silence, Jillian entered that in her phone. When it came up, Michael looked over at her screen and said, “An hour away?” We were going to be late for my best friend’s engagement party. About two hours late.
This was about the eighth thing to go wrong in a lengthy series of things that went wrong on the day my best friend, Thomas, proposed to his girlfriend, Sarah. Earlier, I couldn’t find the railroad station where I was supposed to pick Sarah up. Then, while I was driving her from the railroad station to the proposal location, Jillian (Thomas’s sister, by the way- and Michael was Sarah’s brother) texted me saying that the computer had broken. She was supposed to use it to watch a PowerPoint from Thomas. Later, when Thomas met us at the proposal location, he asked for his backpack, and I realized it was still in the car at the top of the hill with the ring still inside. After that, I was supposed to return a jet ski Thomas used for his plan, but I couldn’t find its marina till after sunset. When I called the marina to get directions, the owner’s first question was an angry “Why are you driving my jet ski?” Then he proceeded to tell me I was breaking the law, since I was out on the lake after the designated time for sunset. And besides being worried about the marina owner’s wrath, all I could think about out on the lake at twilight was the fact that some shark or other denizen of the deep could surge out of the lake at any moment and bite my body in half. I realize it was a freshwater lake and nowhere near an ocean. But at that moment I wasn’t thinking about those sorts of rational thoughts, only Jaws. So after all that, our journey to the engagement party ended up being two and a half hours, when it should have been only thirty minutes. The best laid plans, I guess.
Thankfully, everything pretty much went swimmingly on Thomas’s end. His suit and Spider-Man costume* didn’t get too wet when he was on the jet ski. Sarah said yes. A bunch of the family and friends Thomas invited were able to come to the engagement party, which was at a cabin near the lake, and I can attest to the fact that getting to share one of the most important days of your life with close friends is an unbeatable experience. And did I mention she said yes?
When we finally arrived at the cabin, I was so hungry. I scarfed down some hors d’oeuvres and then was able to observe Thomas and Sarah for a little while as they worked the room. I’ve known Thomas for years now (sixteen, I think). I’ll write more about him and our relationship in a future post as his wedding approaches. But for now, one thing to know about Thomas is how good he is in social situations. Over the years, he’s developed the skill to be able to engage anyone in conversation no matter where he is or what the situation is. Thomas and I often get Slurpees together at 7-11’s, and I’ve watched him have full conversations with the attendants about their lives. At this party, Thomas made his way around the room, making a point to talk to everyone there, to thank them for coming, to hear about their lives. He was much better than I was at my engagement party. I was in shock when I arrived at my apartment and realized I had to entertain about twenty friends. But Thomas was warm and inclusive. They were invited for a reason; they were important to Thomas and Sarah, and he wanted them to know.
I’ve only known Sarah, on the other hand, for as long as she’s been dating Thomas. Actually I met her a couple months before; when I made my first trip to Austin when we were all freshmen, she came with Thomas and me to Kerbey Lane for a late-night fourthmeal. I remember that she laughed a lot, that she was beyond nice to me, even though I’m sure she felt a little out of place with us there in the middle of the night. At the time, I didn’t know she’d end up as Thomas’s fiancée. I didn’t even know they’d go on a date within a year. I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time with Sarah, but I watched her at the party anyway. She was radiant, full of joy. I had never seen her like that before. As she showed people her ring (gorgeous, by the way), she seemed light, as if a weight had been proposed right off of her. It made me so happy to see the smile that wouldn’t leave her face; she loves my best friend, really loves him. I can see that she wants to marry him, that she wants to be his. This means that they can finally be in the same city and that after 4 long years of just dating they can finally see marriage off in the distance. Sarah, forgive me for presuming to know all of these things; I realize I’m assuming a ton, but that’s how I felt on the day I got engaged to Vicky, and your smile looked an awful lot like mine.
So components of the plan may have gone wrong on my end, but as the day wound down, and Thomas and I were driving back to his apartment, Thomas and I repeatedly marveled, “I’m/You’re engaged!” It was over! He’d been planning for months, and he could finally enjoy the fruits of his labor. His planning was literally flawless; even as we were driving to the wrong Easy Street, we had with us the correct directions on a printout. He had given it to us at the very beginning of the day. We had the right directions the whole time, and still managed to screw it up. We make our plans and then we mess them up, but God still brings us to the end He had planned the whole time. In terms of our lives, the lives we plan and mess up, that end is ultimate shared glory with His Son, Jesus Christ. In terms of last weekend, the end was Thomas and Sarah engaged, ready to begin preparing to unite as one. I’m glad things went wrong behind the scenes; it confirmed that God wanted the engagement to happen anyway.
*If this seems strange to you, you don’t know Thomas.