Reggie Holmes took his girlfriend Lea Diggs sailing on the York River to propose marriage, and she said yes on the bow of the boat.
The plan was to bring two couples along to witness the occasion. We sailed for an hour, exchanging stories and moving about the boat. The other couples liked the idea of cushions on the bow, so they went up to check it out, and. Lea joined them. Reggie and I looked at each other as if to say the best laid plans of mice and men…
Reggie has a graphics arts studio in Old Town, Alexandria. “You wouldn’t think location matters that much for something like graphic arts, but it’s important to be seen in the downtown area.”
Lea teaches Spanish to tenth-graders in Fairfax County. Does she have any Hispanics in the class? “Yes, I have a few. They speak Spanish very well, as you might imagine, but they haven’t done that much writing. Any language speaker needs work on their grammar, including them.” Indeed, including all of us.
Owen Winter and his date Meg Norris both work at Newport News Shipyard. He’s in submarine construction and she’s in accounting. I asked about Mike Petters, the CEO who came up from human resources. “He’s done something different,” she said. “He’s made it a happy place to work.” Owen echoed that with a short story. “We were working on the bow of a submarine and had nothing to do that day, totally bored. So we started singing. Along comes Mike Petters on a tour of the yard. He joined us in song.”
Finally Reggie got to make his play for the bow. He took Lea up the high side of the boat and they sat on the cushions. Soon he asked for his backpack, and I went below to put it through the forward hatch. Inside was a box, and another box inside that and so on. Two messages printed on cards conveyed his love for her. She seemed totally surprised by the proposal, covering her mouth in a moment of joy. She called back to the cockpit for suntan lotion to ease the ring on.
Did she suspect?
Everyone was eager to know if she suspected the proposal. “No, but when he brought out the box I thought, Is this the moment?” It was. “Just today I was thinking: ‘Tell me something after all these months. Now I’m so excited!” Her friend Love Eastman rushed up to the bow for pictures. “Oh Love, you get to be a bridesmaid. Yay!”
Back in the cockpit, Lea marveled, “All this, on a boat and on such a beautiful day. Oh my God, I’m still in shock. This morning I was thinking that there’s not much communication about the future, or even what we’re going to do today. And now this!” Reggie beamed, “Just a man and his woman, on a sailboat.”
Meg asked Lea, “Did you think anything romantic about the boat?” Lea said, “I did, and then I forgot about it.” Back at the dock, Lea and Love hugged and jumped up and down. “We’re going to plan a wedding! We’re going to plan a wedding!”
They were off to a surprise engagement party in nearby Newport News, for Reggie to introduce his future bride to 30 family members. The couple will reside in Northern Virginia.