You don’t really have a plan when you buy the ring, unless years of hopelessly dreaming about a future with Pam Beesly counts as a plan. You just hide the ring in one of your brown dress shoes, and within twenty minutes you’ve rejoined Pam at her apartment. The little flutter in your chest every time you look in the corner of your closet is enough for now.
Even if you wanted to plan something, it’s difficult when your thought never wants to leave the present. Airy kisses, indulgent conversation, a warm cheek against your shoulder, an unshakeable sense of purpose claim your concentration make every second a ray of sunlight on an eternally sunny day.
You know Pam isn’t going away. The newness of your relationship wears off, as does the sense of urgency to right every wrong that’s ever transpired between the two of you. But every day you make sure she knows what you’ve known from the first day you met, which is that there’s never been anyone on your mind in the way that she is.
Slowly, you find your path together. You start moving forward. The world seems fresh, beautiful, golden.
By the time the holidays roll around, you’ve been dating for over six months, and proposing doesn’t seem so distant anymore. You wait for a perfect moment with just the right amount of snow, sunlight, family nearby but not in your house, and an absence of the worry that it’s too soon to ask. It’s inversely reminiscent of waiting for the moment to tell her you were in love with her, back when hoping for reciprocation was an hedonistic pipe dream rather than a happy, hopeful prediction.
You can’t find the right moment to ask her before the New Year, but you know that’s okay. She’s always going to be your light in the darkness and your warmth in the cold, and this time around, you know you’re being the same for her.
You don’t really mean to make the joke about proposing, but you do mean every word of it. Something new is on the horizon from that moment on. A lightness in the air hints at possibility, at a redefined life together. You can almost feel it in your fingers as hope turns into reality.
There’s a delay in the process, and you try not to be too upset. You and Pam talk about not getting engaged before she leaves for New York. It’s a good argument, though you both know half of it is trying to make each other feel better about that night at Toby’s party.
And so she leaves. Just for the summer, you remind yourself as you glance to Ronnie at reception. You can’t imagine how Pam felt when you left for Stamford, supposedly for good, and on rocky, unresolved terms.
That’s when something clicks. You don’t know if it’s just because you’re thinking about the past or if there’s that desire to fix all your mistakes kicking in again. But something stirs inside you, and you type out that IM without thinking about the rain, the long drive, or the completely unceremonious nature of what you’re about to do.
Pam stands between two gasoline pumps, clutching her arms and pushing her hair out of her face in response to the wind and rain. You take half a second to blink, capturing a mental photo. This is the past you’re going to remember.
You don’t bother turning off the car engine. You just open your door, throw your jacket over your head, and run towards your future.
Your world is waiting for you, and you’re going to propose to her right…