Phil planned to propose to me at the Taj Mahal. The plan didn’t go exactly as he’d envisioned… here’s an excerpt from Together On Top of the World!
The bus had been crawling through the congested streets of Delhi for close to an hour when it became obvious that there was no way we would make it to the Taj in two hours. An hour later, when we were still in the Delhi outskirts, I could see we wouldn’t make it there before dark. Man, I hope it’s open at night, I thought, because we have a plane to catch tomorrow morning. At 7:00pm we pulled into the parking lot. It was pitch black. No sign of the Taj anywhere. We piled off the bus; the driver went to investigate, and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach… I began rethinking my game plan…
The next morning I woke Sue early and in classic Sue mode, she didn’t want to get up… Finally she put on her down jacket, her hat, and her headlamp and followed me onto the trail. I walked fast—this was “Taj Mahal II” and I didn’t want to blow it. I was timing it so we’d arrive just as the alpenglow was beginning. I scurried along for a few paces, then turned to make sure Sue was on my heels. She was there—but so were all the customers! I didn’t want an audience for my proposal!
“Hey,” I said to them, trying to sound gentle, “why don’t you guys hang here for a bit?”
They took the hint and I led Sue about 100 yards away to the next rise in the trail. By now the light was growing and Kangchenjunga was getting a pinkish glow. I hugged Sue to me and we watched as the alpenglow deepened. Just when it was at its height I pulled out the little box with the ring. “You know, so much of the last decade of my life was tied up here in the Himalayas. Expeditions were always the number one thing. But now my life has taken a turn. Now you’re the focal point and…”
Sue began to cry. I had opened the box and the sun was refracting off the diamond’s facets. “Oh my,” she said and through her tears, “I missed the words. Are you asking me to marry you?”
“No,” I said, “that’s a friendship ring.”
“Great,” she said. “I can’t wait to see the real thing.”
Phil and I at the Taj Mahal a few years after he proposed.