17 Oct 2015 will go down in our family history as a special day in our lives, and more personally in MY life. This is not something I would really blog about normally, since it is pretty much a private affair, but it is a really good story to tell none the less. Plus, it has been a good 2 year gap now since the last post. I do apologize but with 2 young kids, it is hard to keep up. So here goes...
I am barely awake, still in bed, thankful that we had put our children at my parents' for the weekend, and extremely grateful that we have the luxury of sleeping in till 8.00 am that morning. J had asked me to keep my day free. Good idea, since we can just laze and take our time like we used to BEFORE kids (we had SO MUCH time then! And were wasting so much time just doing nothing! Which is Great!). He wishes me good morning, and with a poker face, hands me an envelope. I creek my lids open to look at it for a while wondering if I should open it now or if I should just sleep on it for a bit. The muscles in my lids straining to work itself this morning to keep from closing over my eyeballs. But curiosity got the better of me. Reading with one eye (helps me focus and read better when I had just woken up), I see this:
Interesting. I look at him with my one good open eye, and he tells me nonchalantly, poker faced still, to flip the note. Ah, this is where my first clue is.
I knew the place. Beaulieu House. For some reason, I started getting teary reading the first clue. "Having such a House, our dream still remains." I've always raved about how I love these black and white old colonial houses and how I have always dreamed of living in one some day. He remembered. He was listening.
So that was our first destination. I did not know what we were going to do there but I wanted to find out. So I jumped out of bed, showered, changed, and headed out, eager to know what was next.
Was I so chatty on the way there! Could I have been nervous? Excited maybe? Happy even? Anyhow, We pulled up at the parking, and walked over to the beautiful Architecture that faces the sea, stopping just at the entrance. "So what next?" I asked. "Where would you look for a next clue in a place like this?" Was my reply. Oh goodness, I hope I don't have to start digging through sand, or looking up trees and such. As usual, my imagination was starting to get warped, but thankfully interrupted by a waiter approaching us. "Looking for Daniel?" He asks. Opening my mouth and about to say 'no, we don't know a daniel', I hear, "Yes! Is he here?". That was distinctively J's voice. I turned around and there he was grinning down at me. "Oh...." Was all I could manage. My brain just overwhelmed by the excitement. Before, I could think or say something, Daniel showed up with an envelope just like that first one J had handed me this morning! Wow. My brain started connecting the dots. Daniel already had the envelope. I look down at it, and on the front, was scribbled in J's handwriting " T T C (my name but I'll put my initials here for short), 17/10/2015, TREASURE HUNT". WOW! he'd come here earlier to hand the envelope to this guy. How many destinations today? How long did he take to plan this? WHY the treasure hunt? And for WHAT OCCASION? My brain was going through overdrive now. Did I miss something special? Did I forget something in my busy daily life taking care of our kids? But no. No questions. I was reminded of rules 1&2. Breaking my thoughts, Daniel hands me the envelope with a big smile, looking over to J and then me, and then J again.
OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS SOOOO COOL!!!!! Did a stranger just come up to me and hand me a clue??!!! - screams my brain. All this going through my thoughts as I took the envelope from Daniel, beaming so hard I look like I had 100 Botox shots in my face at one go. We sat down at the nearest table, and I read the next note. I started to cry again.
"...there's nothing that makes me happier than to see you happy..". He cares about me. Why wouldn't he? Stick around and I'll tell you at the end. My next clue reads:
I forgot to tell you at the start that with every clue, if I were not able to guess it, I would have to do a forfeit to entitle myself to a further clue for the answer. I could not guess this one as much as I tried. So I had to do my forfeit.
The answer was the last rented place we called home in Ang Mo Kio before we got our very own. Of course. How could I not have guessed. I asked if there was any significance in putting down the colour blue. Apparently not. He just needed a word to rhyme with clue. It was quite an apartment. The walls in our room were pink, with mismatched purple curtains. It was a thoroughly mis matched house. Everything was misplaced, and mismatched. And during my nesting period just before S was born, I remember feeling extremely frustrated because no amount of tweaking could right the qwerks in this apartment. And all I wantd to do was make a nice room for our daughter. Yet, discovering that we were going back to visit, made me smile. Many good memories were held there too.
We arrived at the lobby of the block, and found my next clue stuck at the top of the letter boxes for the block of flats. I had thought initially that he had gone up to hand the envelope to our old landlord, so finding it here was a surprise. A good one none the less.
"...It's where our love was raised in brightness, and most of all, where our daughter is born!..." Memories came back to me in flashes. The first time we brought her home from the hospital, giving her a tour of the house and her room. J looking at me with so much love, telling me he was so proud of me. The first night she slept in this house with us, where Papa kept looking at her all night, not sleeping, as he was afraid the cats would jump into her cot. Albeit all the qwerks, this house was good because it held the memories of our first moments with S. We became the start of a family here. I clentched my chest instinctively. Wave after wave of invisible warmth was permeating from its source like a running tap. This was where we understood unconditional love to a certain extent.
Shaking away the buzz with my head, I turned the note over, and there held the third clue:
I knew which one - our very first rented flat in Serangoon Central when J travelled more than 10,000 km back to Singapore to settle down with me! Who could forget the noise? We were on the second floor of the flat facing the main road just opposite a bus interchange. It wasn't just the buses that were noisy but the time it started. Because it was a bus interchange, it started from 5am and stopped only after the last bus docked at about 2am or 3am? Sometimes now even when they extended the bus service times over the weekends. This was an easy give away. I looked at the forfeit had I not been able to guess:
I bought breakfast anyway. We loved that coffee shop and loved the food there. It was so convenient for a single unmarried couple like us then. Wanting to relive those days again, we sat down, and soaked in the memories of the past. Nothing much of the place has changed which was great. We headed down to the next flat, where I found my next clue at the letterboxes again. Easy.
"... Because each time I drive past I wear
a bright smile... I still remember the quiet place where at night, we'd walk, having often dinner, at the corner coffee shop." Those walks and dinners were special. That's where we talked, laughed, teased a lot, and shared our thoughts. They are not big wow events, but every day life, yet I'm glad the daily things then made us happy. It was nice to be happy daily and connected with one another. Could this day be any more awesome than it already is??!!My next clue read:
Oh I did not need a forfeit for this one. This bed belonged to my cousin's guest room in her first home at Bishan. This was significant because, it was when J had just come back to visit me before his big move back to Singapore. We were both excited, happy, young and full of life! That (day)bed had been one that my cousin was preparing should they have a child. So it did not really fit our body dimensions very well, although we were grateful for my cousin offering her place for him to stay during his vacation then. It was really nice. Good funny memories there. To Bishan we went where like the other flat locations, I found the next envelope by the letter boxes. At this point, I could not contain myself and asked J if he was afraid that the envelopes would be taken away. And what would have happened if they were. He had made spare envelopes in case the originals got taken away. And yes, he was surprised himself that they remained intact considering he left some of these envelopes there for 3 days!
I could not guess this one, I thought it was too vague. There were a few Japanese restaurants I liked so I could not figure this one out.
Of course... Dempsey Hill. My favourite corner Japanese restaurant! He still remembers! We have not been back to this restaurant or to Dempsey Hill generally in years since we had the kids, so it was great that we did. Glancing at the clock, lunch time. He had planned lunch at my favourite corner Japanese restaurant! Squeaaaaaal!!!! This day just gets better!
As we walk toward the entrance of the restaurant, a waitress walks out to receive us, and before either one of us says anything, SHE smiles and says (looking to Julien), "Reservation for Ting?". I am speechless and impressed. J nods with an appreciative smile and replies, "just on time". Coincidence maybe? I think to myself. She greets everyone. That is her job. We sit, and look through the menu for lunch while we wait for someone to take our orders. Minutes later, the same lady that had greeted us at the door, comes towards us, and with two hands, presents me with another envelope. Mind.blown.
Bingo. Just then lunch was served.
Through lunch, he had explained that he had come by this restaurant earlier in the week to drop off this envelope, but it was closed, so he had to wait about an hour before this lady came by. So much effort had been put in this treasure hunt, I was starting to wonder out loud, why the treasure hunt and why so much effort? What is the treasure? Of course I was reminded again of rules 1 & 2. "Anyway," I added, "this would actually make a GREAT proposal for some lucky girl, but too bad we are already married..". "You're 6 years and 2 kids late" I retorted half jokingly. Why this joke? Because I was never proposed to. I was never asked if I wanted to marry. We were on our way IN A TAXI to meet some friends, on Christmas Eve, and we had just met up with the jeweler to receive this engagement ring that we had made. I had dropped him a BIG hint to "keep it for later". But through my confusion, trying to direct the taxi driver to our destination for luncheon with friends, and getting lost, I heard J mumble something extremely inaudible, and then felt the ring on my finger. I was confused and wanted to take the ring off and tell J to stop mucking around, but he instead told me not to take it off and that he had already proposed. Years later, he even joked that it is a very unique way to propose since no one had ever probably been proposed to that way. Oh Yes, I am sure. I felt robbed of a once in a lifetime experience I could never take back. Then we left it as that.
Turning the note to my next clue, wanting to keep the excitement and not break the happy moment with my own thoughts of the past,
Just out of curiosity, I looked at the forfeit:
I fired up Google on my iPhone and started furiously typing in search words, like parks, reservoirs, reserves. I DO remember this place in great detail - I even played tug of war with a monkey who decided my bag of food was his! Of course the monkey won when he bared his fangs, and I sulked while watching him eat my hotdog bun IN FRONT OF ME. As if parading his victory. All this while J laughed so hard watching with great pleasure from the sides. - I just cannot remember which location exactly. The first time we hiked together was at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve yet there was this misleading picture where J was on the tree top walk, and when I had searched for that, MacRitchie comes up. I picked MacRitchie Reservoir in the end, which was wrong. The right answer should have been Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Apparently we had started at Bukit Timah, and ended up at the tree top walk. They are linked. Next clue was hidden in the glove compartment. Thank goodness I did not have to hike for it!
Hmmm.. I did not guess this one.. Soo....
The Singapore Science Centre! Wow!! He went THAT far? Only one way to find out.
There, he walked me to the customer service counter, and stopped. So I asked the lady over the counter if she had an envelope for Ting. She did.
Tired? I was having so much fun!!!!
This was easy even without the extra clue!! The Ritz!! Our very first hotel stay together. Service is just impeccable. Years later, we brought S here too for her first hotel stay, during National Day, to watch the parade and the fireworks. I really have to give it to J. I was (and still am) completely blown away at the effort he put in to organise this huge hunt island wide. Each envelope held a little note of encouragement and affirmation, a clue, and a forfeit that he created. The lady at the concierge handed me my next envelope.
This set me bawling again. Right at the lobby of the Ritz. It was the Mandarin Oriental. The place we got married 6 years ago. I read the forfeit. Didn't need the extra clue but I did my forfeit anyway.
I was incredibly touched so far, and my heart was pounding as though we had met the first time. It was exhilarating! Such a nice surprise knowing J could make me feel like this again.
Just like the Ritz, I got my next envelope through the concierge.
One of the best days of our lives.
Didn't need an extra clue for this. East coast park! We loved taking walks here and cycling ourselves. And after, we'd head to the hawker and have barbecued wings. Simple pleasures that bring so much comfort. Reeling from the excitement still, my brain set out working again. Where would he hide the next clue in that park? Of course I could not help myself and asked, but was brought back to rules 1&2.
When the car stopped and we got out, this time, I noticed J had took out a bag with him. Hmm.. Is this where I find my treasure? He glanced at his watch and told me it was earlier than he had expected and that we should take a seat like we used to and enjoy the sea breeze. Chat a little. I realised I missed these moments of us so much. Just us being able to be us without a care in the world, and without having to rush or worry about a baby being hungry. Just us. And having that moment with J was good. We held hands, and stayed quiet while listening to the waves.
Then, he handed me another envelope. Keeping the silence, I opened it and realised this was the last envelope:
For some reason I started to get nervous. I looked at J, took a deep breath, and turned the note, reading it out loud as my heart swelled with every word that waltzed off that page, right to the core of my soul. When I had finished reading it, wiping my tears away AGAIN, there he was on one knee, with a ring in his hand. "Oh my God...!!!" My mind exclaimed as I was choking through my tears that had once more streamed their way out. 'Is this how it feels like?' - I thought to myself. Because it was absolutely INCREDIBLE! Every girl should get to experience this private moment. It does not have to be big or elaborate. Just the quiet moment where you can both be honest and most vulnerable with each other, is absolutely beautiful.
Right now, here for you, on the earth I put my knee, will you gladly keep on being married to me?
YES OF COURSE!!! THAT WAS LIKE ONE OF THE COOLEST AND SEXIEST THINGS YOU JUST DID FOR ME! I will never forget this experience. And I am writing this because I do not want to forget how you made me feel either.
I cannot remember if I audibly answered his question. I was just too overwhelmed throughout the day building up to this. It wasn't a new ring or anything. It was my engagement ring that I could not wear anymore, just like my wedding band after two pregnancies. He had gotten it resized so it fit. I find out later that he had taken a month to plan this hunt, and it took a week to travel around after work, to hand the envelopes to the people in the various locations.
OH MY HEART. I AM SO BLESSED.
All of you read our blog and see snippets in our lives, usually the good ones. But the truth is we had a very challenging year last year, and was at one of our lowest points in life. This year, we're kind of picking up the pieces. Yet without having gone through the bad, it would not elevate this experience to it's true value for me.