Editor’s note: NewsWorks blogger Ilene Dube saw an amazing wedding proposal on Saturday in Princeton. This is the same day that more than seven inches of rain came down and caused extensive flooding throughout the city. Can you help us find the video?
It was Saturday afternoon, and although rain was in the forecast, I headed off to the Princeton University Art Museum to see A Material Legacy, packing an umbrella. What’s a little rain?
After viewing the exhibit of contemporary art, I looked out the glass doors and saw the rain pelting down. What better place to wait out a storm than a museum. I explored the Greek and Roman and Mayan art on the lower level that I never have a chance to see. An hour later, in the front vestibule, a crowd had formed. It seemed all the prospective students and their baby siblings and grandparents, having toured campus, were taking shelter in the lobby. There was no place to sit, and the air conditioning seemed to have been turned off, so I decided to brave it—I had an umbrella, after all.
The instant I set out in the torrential rain, epithets escaped from my mouth. I was wading in water calf deep, swirling with campus construction debris and other flotsam and jetsam. The steps up to the arch I needed to go through to get to where I’d parked on Alexander had become a waterfall, foaming liquid pouring from its mouth like a mini Niagara Falls. I began to have that sinking feeling I might not be going home.
Seeking a dry spot to plot my escape, I went through the U Store. From the front door I could see a line of parked cars on Alexander under water. The street had become a river rushing downhill. “I have never,” everyone started their sentences with. Rescue workers were closing the road so sewers could be cleared. I asked the pharmacist how late the U Store remained open, preparing to shelter in place.
In soaking wet clothes in the air conditioning, I was shivering and went to the back covered entrance to warm up, watching the rain. I had a great view of Blair Arch, also a waterfall, and heard high-pitched sounds I mistook for birds. These were alarms going off.
There were about 25 people buzzing under the awning and I felt like an intruder, but hey, these were extenuating circumstances. Suddenly the rain let up and Blair Arch cleared. In the past I have heard a cappella groups performing here, their sound resonating against the stone, and Blair Arch is where many a bride and groom, dressed in white froth and black tails, pose for wedding photographs.
A young couple appeared at the top of the steps to the gothic structure, at one time the entrance to the university for visitors arriving by train. Several of the folks under the awning jumped out with their video cameras as the young man under the arch fell to his knees and opened a ring box. The woman’s hands went to her face in disbelief–you could see her lips mouthing “oh my god” as endorphins rushed through her body. Several more colluders appeared on the steps carrying big letters: “Will you marry me?”
As something saltier than the rain poured down my cheeks, two of the men under the awning introduced themselves as the fathers of the bride and groom. I congratulated them, and then they all took off under umbrellas to celebrate with the young couple.
To think of all the planning that went into this moment, creating a memory they’ll share for their lifetimes, and the rain cooperating perfectly, breaking at just the right moment.
Heartened, I continued wading toward the Dinky to get to dry land to cross to Alexander where, thankfully, my car was not under water. I did have to drive through numerous seas to get home, witnessing a rescue worker in a black slicker and boots carrying a woman from her car, under water, to land. As other cars sloshed through the floods, I made my way cautiously, knowing that all would be OK. Oh, and she did say “yes.”
If you were there please send us a link to the video so we can share it without our readers. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Artful Blogger is written by Ilene Dube and offers a look inside the art world of the greater Princeton area. Ilene Dube is an award-winning arts writer and editor, as well as an artist, curator and activist for the arts.