AN ENGAGEMENT IN PARIS

After what felt like ages and many a month spent on opposite ends of the earth; Jono finally touched down in Paris for a glorious 3 week visit. We filled every moment we had with adventures, tourist attractions, so many hamburgers, and the odd few lazy days in bed. By the time we had to say goodbye again, I couldn’t believe that our time ran out so quickly but he left me with the most amazing present: the privilege of becoming his wife.

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Engaged in Paris. It’s what every girl dreams of, right? That picture perfect moment when your person asks you to marry them in front of the Eiffel Tower. Well, we’re not really the Eiffel Tower engagement-type and seeing as I’ve been in Paris going on 2 years now, Jono was adamant that it should all go down at a place that is new and exciting for both of us. No clichés, no tourist-covered spaces, just us. He is also fully aware of how much I love the hidden parts of this city that has become my second home in such a short span of time. So after dragging him to all the ‘must-see’ places, he told me he found an abandoned railway system that has been completely overgrown by plants and is covered in graffiti. It’s the perfect balance of his love for street art, and abandoned spaces, as well as my love for anything green and growing.

Not being a fan of breaking the law or trespassing, it took a bit of gentle encouragement from my fearless fiancé to clamber through the hole in the fence, and make our way down to the train tracks. Once you step into the greenery, it’s like you are enveloped by calm and tranquility. The city doesn’t exist, it is dead quiet and there are a handful of curious walkers doing the same thing as we are. Abandoned since the 1930s, Nature has been offered a chance to take back some of the space with climbing ivy and wildflowers (apparently it contains more than 200 species of plants).

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Naturally, this has also attracted a strange array of people: from squatters to graffiti artists to amateur catacomb explorers. The green stretches for kilometres in both directions but we headed towards a ridiculously long and very dark, damp tunnel - we could just make out the other side of it. I made it in about one quarter of the way before getting scared. I am terrified of the dark and I could see the headlines of the next day’s newspapers read: “Idiotic tourists get murdered in abandoned train tunnel”. Feeling a little foolish for being such a pussy, I told Jono we could go again. I could tell he was itching to get to the other side, so clinging to him and iPhone torches in hand we made it through. It was totally worth it. We explored, marveled at it all and took photos of the most beautiful natural scenery I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in Paris (let’s be real, it’s mostly buildings and public parks out here). It was simply surreal and in that moment, standing hand in hand, I was the happiest I’ve been in longer than I care to remember. Oh, if I only knew what was coming…

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Just before taking the long walk back through the tunnel I tried to get gum from Jono’s backpack. He offered to bend down so that I could reach it easier. I told him no, and that I can reach perfectly fine, yet he stayed on the ground. Slightly confused by this, I was already popping the gum in my mouth when I stepped back and realised he was on one knee, ring in hand. I froze and looked at him, which was met with: “Oh, am I not getting gum?” Laughing, I put the gum in his mouth and he gave it to me straight with those beautiful words: “I want to ask you to marry me”. Before the sentence was even finished my hand was already stretched out and he was putting the ring on it, followed by a kiss and: “Wait, so is that a yes?”

I could not have dreamed of a more fitting and romantic proposal. It was unique, it was beautiful and it was as simple, and as straightforward as our whole relationship has been so far. Walking back through that tunnel, grinning like an absolute idiot, I felt like there was nothing and no one else in that moment. Perhaps even infallible. Only me and my favourite person on earth, who asked me to spend the rest of our lives together in such a special place.

Words: Zanie Maree