I text “I’m sorry” from bed, but the text never sent. Curled up in soft sheets with a new appreciation for luxury, I felt a sickness I hadn’t felt before coupled with exhaustion. The queasiness of Cuba lingered on and my first night in Tulum was not as I imagined. The waves were pounding right outside our room at El Pez Hotel, and I just left my boyfriend Mark at dinner when the food arrived. His expression when I stood up was one I had never seen, like a combination of shock, disbelief, and disappointment. “I’m so sorry. I have to go lay down. I feel so ill.” How could I be crawling back to bed to lie down while music flowed and fresh grilled octopus just arrived in this rustic gorgeous breezy restaurant in Tulum, Mexico?
The next morning the blinds were pulled open to wake me up for sunrise. The constant birds diving outside our room with the pounding surf was hypnotic, and I longed to not move and stare at the sea. Mark had repeatedly talked about seeing the sunrise the second morning in Tulum, so I knew this was important. I mustered every ounce of energy to throw on my three quarter length sweats and the only other warm clothing I brought for two weeks, a black throw wrap.
Mark held my hand as we jumped onto the sand and started towards the rocks outside El Pez. As my eyes started to open through the cold blustery wind I noticed Mark looked so nice, especially for a freezing sunrise. He was not in surf shorts. “OMG! You look like you are going to dinner!” I screamed. This was the first time I wasn’t in something cute. As we climbed the rocks with the sea hugging us on all sides, I saw the jagged dark outline of shadows on the top of the rock. My mind was still cascading with Cuban images. I screached, “Is that a dead cat?” Thankfully no swollen dead cat like we saw on the streets of Havana, but a beautiful assortment of roses with colorful pillows, and a tea and coffee setup. The poem Mark had written me last was laying on the top of the rock with a frame of a photo I had taken at El Pez that said Melissa and Mark, February 18, 2017.
Tears started to stream down my face because I thought we might be getting officially “hinged.” I had hoped, but knew there was no way he could bring a diamond to Cuba or Mexico in our bags. Great accepting trusting calm love had taken a long time and could the man I adored and only known for a little over a year be ready to commit to spend a life with me? My doubts about long lasting unconditional love were always creeping. They were there even after I heard “I love you” within a month.
We held each other on top of that jagged uncomfortable rock as the wind whipped, the waves fiercely crashed, and pelicans flew in unison while unexpectedly diving deep for sustenance. As we waited for the sun to rise, we changed positions, laughed, kissed, kept each other warm, and tried to sip tea, but it was so windy it was impossible. As the colors started to stream and pop out from the horizon, Mark changed positions on that rock and had me stand up, and that is when he got down on one knee. Happy tears continued and all I remember saying was, “You know I would have married you after the first month.”
Those beautiful words on that rock have faded, but not in my heart. More tears of joy continued that sweet morning, and we kissed and held each other surrounded by the violent but romantic sea surrounded by dive bombing birds. Mark slipped on my finger a wooden ring with turquoise and silver that he designed with wood from my birth month. “You got me a coconut ring!” I kept saying. A perfect travel ring for my wandering heart.
When I saw you I fell in love
and you smiled because you knew
The moment I looked into your eyes I was lost,
and would never be the same again.
I have loved you for 460 days,
and I will love you for a million more.
Little did I know Mark had hired a photographer (Melissa Mercado Photography from Playa del Carmen) who documented our whole morning from the shore like the paparazzi. After our sunrise, I freshened up and threw on a white cover-up for a fun little photo shoot at El Pez, part of the Colibri Boutique Hotels. We toasted champagne with our photographer Melissa and thanked her for capturing our engagement. Now I call this trip our “engagemoon”.
Time sails on so fast. How can we hold on to a moment forever? I hope to keep that memory alive by writing it here. It’s been a little over a month and I want our engagement morning to happen again and again and again.
A couple weeks later when we returned home from Tulum, Mark slipped a sparkly ring on my finger at sunset in Malibu, another ocean where our hearts beat with the rhythmic waves. Home.
“She knew she loved him when ‘home’ went from being a place to a person.”
Thank you to El Pez (a Colibri Boutique Collection Hotel) for making our stay so incredibly memorable.