It happened down under Manhattan Brooklyn Bridge. Right there, in the place of a thousand tourists a day. By now a well-known location – not only because of pizza, ice cream and other overrated must-dos.
One of those rare magical moments in New York. Once they happen you are left smiling and feeling happy. And also thinking Ahaaaa!
I was out and about, wandering around the scenes, looking for the infamous steps in Brooklyn Bridge Park. A few days ago I had read that there are several readings happening here and I was anxious to see what they were about. For five minutes I got to hear what the author had to say about his most recent book and then the event was wrapped up for the day. While everyone hustled out, I stayed and climbed the now half-empty steps. Determined to get a good night shot and secretly cursing myself out for forgetting my tripod.
The night scene was gorgeous. The people were even more interesting. A group of teenagers snuck up from behind me and silently walked past down the steps as if it’s a normal occurrence to be dressed up half-nakedly like Cleopatra and other exotics. They were having fun with their own little photo shoot down there, such as so many others I had seen when walking past the crowds.
It also happened to be one of those days Obama was back in town. The entire East River was lit up by police boats and Manhattan’s banks were light-polluted thanks to the high amount of escorts.
The area close to the steps is not as well-known as the rest of the park. It is often well hidden to the lazy tourist eye. Most tourists don’t see much reason to go past the Ice Cream Factory once they make it out to Dumbo. You have a great view on both the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline so you’ve basically seen it all.
Wrong! You haven’t seen an engagement before! You’ve seen the Asian and South American wedding parties of
obnoxious rich people who pay an arm and a leg for obtaining a 5-minute permit that allows them to legitimately shoot and annoy the crap out of almost everyone else there. But that’s pretty much it. You are missing out on the magic of Dumbo if you think that’s all it is about!
So, while I straighten out my camera on a random rock and desperately use the handrails as some form of stabilizer, a guy suddenly appears. He is dragging with him a trail of prints rowed onto a thread. Similar to the Tibetan flags, only the flags are pictures and handwritten notes. While he is moving up the stairs, swirling around me, almost tying up my feet, a girl shows up. She starts reading the pieces of handwritten notes, is intensely looking at the pictures. I realize they are all of here. “There must be some sort of love-game in process,” I think to myself, and then set my camera to a 30-second exposure of the skyline, hoping they won’t run into my picture.
The guy drags the thread over my head, so that I am not in the middle of the entire circus. He is nice about this. He then positions himself a bit awkwardly, pretending to be surprised when she is finished. A certain vibe of excitement is floating through the air, barely tangible. The thread is longer than he expected. He has to go down a few steps until she has read everything. She is already almost in tears, dropping her bouquet of a dozen roses when hugging and thanking him. He then goes down on his knees and nervously fumbles in his pockets. Presenting a case with a ring to her. She says yes and they kiss happily. Both cannot believe what just happened. I myself am still pretty stunned.
The romance of the situation, the beauty of the location. All pieces have neatly fallen into place.
I believe they could not have been much older than me. Beginning to mid-twenties. She looked like a student. I have seldom seen such a great picture.
Americans are all about the perfect moment. A nice dinner, a walk under stars, then popping the big question. But this was different, this was an original idea. They also just happened to be in the right city to have a great background for their scenario.
I therefore devote this post to the couple who got engaged in Dumbo on July 30, 2012. You made my day! Heck, you’ve even made my entire week!
So much happiness and love was conveyed to us passive bystanders that night and I am glad I was able to witness it. I told you my pictures turned out too blurry to even consider serious. But I am willing to post them on here. It might be the only memory you have of the night he proposed. Feel free to download them and please hit me up if you ever make it to this site!
I wish you all the best in your hopefully happy future together and I wonder where your paths will lead. Hopefully to a lovely home!