The Northern Lights {Part the Second}

It’s been a whole THREE months since we posted The Northern Lights {part 1}, but I’m fairly certain that not one of you who read it can have forgotten the pure wonderfullness (it’s a word) of that post.

Well, readers, I have news for you, this one is even better.

It’s magical. That’s all I can say about it. The setting is magical, the story is magical, and the writing is magical. Yes, Lara talks about the stress we often put ourselves under, and the pressure we unwittingly put on our potential future spouses (spousii?) but she does it with such beautiful self-awareness, and eloquence, that all I can do is sigh in delight.

I give you  the wonderful conclusion to Lara’s proposal story…

Flying over a snowy expanse of country and frozen water inlets, we arrive in the town of Tromsø on the day of our six year anniversary. The world we land in is a dream away from the one we left behind. Although both are clenched fast in the fist of Winter, the memory of Edinburgh’s chilly grey visage is eclipsed by the sight of the Norwegian landscape glowing with reflected light. The crisp purity of the air sends shivers of delight through my lungs and commands a grin of utter enchantment to my face.  I remain captivated throughout the coach journey to the hotel, the magic of the scenery dispelling my anxieties. A sense of certainty enters my mind: I will have an amazing time, even if he doesn’t propose.

True though this was, more accurate would have been “I will have an amazing time, even if he doesn’t propose and I will barely notice the ghostly proposal-related thoughts at the back of my mind until I succumb to insecurity, doubt and a tinge of melodramatic despair on the last day of our holiday and ask a rather pitiful question”. But I guess a lack of psychic power is shared between my subconscious and my waking brain as I did not envisage the turn the holiday would take. Neither did he.

Our anniversary dinner passed quietly and proposal-less in the hotel restaurant. Afterwards, in search of the perfect spot to view the Northern Lights, we got lost. Due to a very misleading bus map we ended up on the wrong side of the island at the last stop next to a hospital. We agreed that this was definitely not the light-pollution-free, ocean-side view of the sky we had been directed to by the hotel concierge, and promptly hopped on a bus going in the other direction. In our desperation to see the Aurora that we were sure was hiding in the haze of the town lights*, we waited until we reached the coastal road and got off at the next darkest point. It was quickly apparent that we still weren’t in the right place, but there wasn’t another bus for half an hour, so we spent the time wading in thigh-deep snow, stumbling over hidden dunes and climbing on snow-swept picnic tables. Tumbling into bed with happy exhaustion, I imagined that the passing of our anniversary meant that my “proposal vigilance” would relax.

And it did.


Flying down an icy slope on the back of a dog sled, the exhilaration bursting through my body as I used all my weight to brake, there was no room for anything else. Pushing the sled up a hill or untangling the harness, my mind was immersed in the bliss of physical necessity. As a passenger, the sensation of raw air and clean snowflakes on my face absorbed me completely. Nothing existed beyond the immediate present.

That night we saw the Northern Lights. They were pale sheets of iridescence shimmering in the sky, sublime and humbling in their splendour.  A whispered thought imagined him asking then. But we were surrounded by people and I knew it wasn’t the time or place. I had only been lured into dreaming it was by the enchantment of the Lights.

Another day, atop a mountain, after conquering an incredible snowy climb, we were rewarded with solitude and a glorious view of the city miniaturised beneath our gaze. With a sense of exhausted achievement in our limbs and contented smiles on our faces, the thought of his proposal unfurled once more.

I squashed it, but the thought was a deep-rooted one and it would continue to bloom throughout the trip, making its appearance when we were walking along the waterside, admiring the glow of the city lights, or drinking ice-wine and laughing together.

By the last day, these shadowy notions transformed into a full-blown spectre of anxiety. Trudging through the snow on our way to dinner, I was haunted by angst-filled questions: maybe he doesn’t want to marry me? Maybe he’s content with the way things are? Maybe he’s only okay with how things are and therefore is uncertain about taking it further? Maybe we’re not as happy as I think we are? Maybe he’s a tiny bit unsure about me? Maybe he doesn’t love me as much as I think he does?

The relentlessness of these questions coupled with the uncharacteristic uncertainty about our relationship led me to stop and desperately blurt out – “Do you love me enough to marry me?”

Despite his assurances and queries, I avoided further discussion of the subject. Logically, I knew that the depth of his feelings for me did not directly correlate to his desire to propose. But emotionally I was under-prepared for how much of my self-worth was invested in him doing so.

At dinner, I succumbed to a few choked-down tears and brushed them off as unhappiness at the end of the holiday and stress at returning to a vast sea of unfinished work. Determined to not let our trip end so mournfully, we set out to accomplish our failed mission from the first day and find the “perfect spot” that had been described to us.

Find it, we did. Perfect, it was.**

Here he asks me to marry him as the clouds part to bare the star-dotted sky and a landscape of wintry perfection. Euphoria fires through me but it is sharply elbowed aside by indignation – “Is this because of what I said earlier?!?” I ask. He protests. I smile, laugh, take flight into joy and say “yes”. Then I write it in the snow, just to make sure he’s got the message.

Later, he proposes again on bended knee, producing an engagement ring.

Message received.


*It wasn’t, the solar activity only flared around 4am that night.

** Read this in a Yoda voice if you must. This obstinate splinter of a sentence refused to be re-written despite my attempts.

Categories: Engagement, Wise Women
31 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Vivienne
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Sniff sniff, sob sob. Perfect.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Vivienne!(Or should I be saying sorry?) xx

  2. Elsie
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Look at those eyes! They are amazing. What a place for a proposal and all told so beautifully.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Elsie. If he’d had his way he would have proposed on the way back home after the trip to put me off the scent but this way it was still a surprise and I got a mushy story out of it :)

  3. Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    This is just lovely and may have brought a tear to my eye. Or two. Or three.

    What a wonderful spot for a proposal and what a beautiful, honest and just lovely story.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      When I was writing about the last day and all the questions running through my head, I did actually start crying. Then I went through to the other room, hugged my husband and told him I was so glad he married me….

  4. Amanda M
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Wow what an amazing holiday and proposal – what are you going to do for a honeymoon? Seems impossible to top but I’m keen to know if you’re going to try!

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      We actually got married last September (rather a quick engagement! Wedding planning whilst writing my dissertation was….um…interesting…..). We went to Vila Vita Parc in the Algarve region of Portugal ( but rather type in the name for Google image search) which was glorious. Different from our normal more action-packed holiday but perfect for honeymoon.

      We saw dolphins which I was absolutely ecstatic about (childhood dream come true). Okay, I’m going to stop at that or I’ll write the equivalent of an entire post in this comment! :)

  5. Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Beautiful story Lara!
    Is there a girl out there who hasn’t had the proposal anxiety ruin otherwise lovely moments?

    • Amanda M
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      This is the benefit of being together for 15 years before the (shock) proposal – I’d stopped thinking it might ever happen!

    • Zan
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

      I think I was blindsided by the fact that mine was was a Wednesday lunchtime in the middle of an ordinary working week and I was in joggers and a sweatshirt with my foot strapped up from spraining my ankle. Least likely proposal moment ever. But I think that’s why he picked it! :)

      • Amanda M
        Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        And you couldn’t have run away….What a strategy!

      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        He wanted to propose back in Britain, either on our one night stay in London or in the taxi back to the flat in Edinburgh. He said that he didn’t want some cheesy over-romantic backdrop, that all it needed was me and him to be perfect. I think he mainly just wanted to surprise me for once! (He certainly did!)

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      Mine was a bolt out of the blue. But we had the opposite problem in that I was so shocked I didn’t say yes for quite a while and he thought he’d really messed it up (awww).

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      Have to say, I was a Grade A Cow before G proposed, it wasn’t even proposal anxiety, I was just being a stroppy bitch. To this day I remain stunned that he still asked me.

      K x

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Love all the answers to this…. :)

  6. Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I have said it before and I will say it again, Lara please never stop writing. Ever. This is just so magical and perfect, and you’re so wonderfully honest, and the whole thing made me sigh wistfully, giggle, sniffle with tears and grin with joy. Brilliant.

    K x

    PS: Slightly odd comment but how amazingly BLUE are your eyes?!

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Aaw Katie. Hugs. Thank you. Your words are perfect, as always.

      And it’s AOW, even asking me the colour of my pants would fall under the category of normality here….I’m pretty sure on Twitter I told Anna that I wanted her face and Aisling that I wanted to inhale her baby….


      • Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        SOOOOOOOO Lara, what colour were your pants when he proposed?

        • Becca
          Posted February 13, 2013 at 6:57 am | Permalink

          It was COLD. She was probably wearing more than one pair….

  7. Pickle
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m deeply embarrassed by how much of a huff I was an hour or so before my now-husband proposed – similar elements: last day of a holiday, last mountain climbed: nothing.

    As per usual he had the whole thing under control and was just waiting to pick somewhere a little lower down we’ll still be able to climb up to when we’re old and grey.

    • Amanda M
      Posted February 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      Oh god, I must be hormonal as this almost made me sob! How LOVELY, gulp.

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Oh Pickle, that’s so lovely. I sometimes look up the spot he proposed on Google maps. There’s this gorgeous photo I have bookmarked too ( for rainy days when I need cheering up :)

  8. Zan
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Lovely lovely writing Lara! And am tres jealous you’ve seen the Northern Lights (on my list of things I must do!) x

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Zan! You should make plans to do it in the next couple of years as the solar activity is particularly strong so you’re more likely to get to see them! xx

  9. Posted February 12, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Movie-perfect proposal! I LOVE it.


  10. Posted February 12, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    AMazing – Lara, your writing is beautiful, I can see everything as you describe it! Such a lovely story!

    Ours was a last day of holiday proposal and I was a little huffy the night before after we’d sat at the end of the jetty alone watching the stars talking about our favourite parts of the holiday and then just went to bed. He proposed on that same jetty surrounded by our bags waiting for the boat to the airport the next afternoon! I think it was a case of now or never after he chickened out a few times on the holiday but he hasn’t admitted that! What I love is that I returned with a massive photo of the whole island taken from the jetty (showing the little hut where it happened) which I’d taken days before without knowing how special that place would end up being to me – it’s now a huge canvas in our home! As well as returning engaged of course! :)

  11. Kate G
    Posted February 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    What a gorgeous story and so moving :) And that pic in your previous post of the northern lights is enchanting.

    Went on a 10 year longed-for holiday in Croatia all beset with thoughts of “its the perfect time/place/view/feel” and of course no proposal was forthcoming! Must say that my secret shimmers of expectation added something special to the holiday even if it didnt happen then. And when he did propose a few years later, it was so utterly unexpected and real it was just perfect – despite no starry skies or sunsets of glory. :)

    Bex – LOVE your unknown photo story!

  12. Bex - Ginger Bee
    Posted February 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Oh Lara! such a beautiful story! wow!

    T proposed after a 3 week work trip in Oz, second to last day, I ruined it many many times in the lead up, but the most spectacular of ruining came when I saw a wedding, said how romantic it would be to be proposed to there and then when he went ‘erm’ I accused him of not wanting to marry me ever and I stormed off in a huff – very mature and attractive moi! he still proposed though! could only get two words out he was so scared I’d ruin it again ‘Marry please’!!

  13. Posted February 17, 2013 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Lovely Lara, your writing is beautiful


  14. Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Finally got a chance to read this. It’s brilliant Lara, I love your writing you’ve got a real talent for it


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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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