JASON ATEN | MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHER

MY BEST FRIEND

I had been carrying it around in my pocket all day.  Every few minutes, I'd stick my hand in my pocket and make sure it was still there.  Never before had I been more nervous about losing anything.  It was the fourth of July - four years ago - and Beth and I had driven down to Monterey, CA to have a picnic and watch the fireworks.  

After lunch, we went for a walk along the boardwalk, and I was so scared I couldn't even hold her hand.  I needed to be able to continuously check my pocket.  I needed to be sure that it was still there.  Afterall, it had arrived just the day before - a few hours before Beth arrived from Michigan.  It had been flown in just for this occasion, and there was no way I was going to lose it.

I wanted to give it to Beth more than I've wanted anything... ever.  But I needed the perfect setting - the perfect moment.  Of course, the longer I waited for the perfect moment, and the longer I looked for the perfect spot, the more I worried about checking my pocket. 

Then we found this bench.

I probably made up something lame like - let's just sit here for a few minutes.  I had this whole "speech" planned, and as soon as we sat down, I forgot every word.  Instead, I reached in my pocket, and pulled out Beth's ring.  I don't remember much of what happened next, except I'm pretty sure I asked my best friend to marry me.  

"Yes, of course yes, YES!"  Those were her exact words.  Sitting there on that bench, she said yes.  Sitting there on that bench, four years ago, I asked my best friend to be my best friend forever.  Just another reason I love the 4th of July.