As the leaves fall, the marriage proposal blooms at the Northshire Bookstore | Local News
MANCHESTER — You want to ask for marriage, but where, when and how? For New York’s Steve Tarca, the answer was at Northshire Books in Manchester Center, at the height of the foliage, with a ring hidden in a book. Kelly Cochran, his girlfriend, is an avid reader, and the couple regularly stop by the store en route to their family home north of St. Albans.
Tarca enlisted the help of Northshire Events Coordinator Dafydd Wood, who quickly solved a problem: in which section of the store would the big surprise event take place? (Romance? Too easy. Horror? Too much. Mystery? Adventure? Not bad, but Wood chose the events section. The place was right next to the ornate iron staircase, which leads to the children’s section (foreshadowing ?).
The store’s booksellers didn’t need to be prompted to suggest literary references for the occasion. Maya Gingery named Emily Brontë: “Whatever the makeup of our souls, hers and mine are the same.” And Ernest Hemingway: “We would be together, we would have our books and at night we would be warm in bed with the windows open and the stars shining.”
For some, Shakespeare came to mind. Wood suggested, “[F]or I’ll be horribly in love with her” from “Much Ado About Nothing”. What about this passage from the same piece? “I love nothing in the world as well as you – isn’t that strange?”
Although tempting, let’s resist the rabbit hole of literary references.
For the surprise to work, Tarca had to plan carefully. He enlisted an artist friend, who created a cover for a book in the MinaLima style of the Harry Potter novels. Tarca found a thick enough book, hollowed it out, and adorned it with photos of happy times he and Cochran had shared. Publishers might not have been thrilled with its title (“Kelly and Steven”), but Tarca knew his readership. He knew she would like the idea of proposing at a bookstore. She had read 82 books this year so far (current favorite authors are Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo.)
Inside the book was the ring, which has a legacy worthy of any good tale. Over 100 years ago, Tarca’s great-great-aunt Bessie wore it to her wedding. Growing up, Tarca’s mother considered Bessie a doting grandmother, and now her love and her ring would live on.
Accompanied by his parents, the four would drive north. (Nothing says romance like a happy couple and two parents.) The stop at the bookstore would be mid-afternoon. Adding to the big surprise, Tarca’s parents would be waiting, timed to appear at the right time and complete the happy show. Continuing the focus on family, the day coincided with Cochran’s brother’s 30th birthday. (“I hope he’s okay with that,” Cochran would say later.)
The romance of Cochran and Tarca, like a well-crafted novel, mixes fate and serendipity. The two worked at Disney World several years ago, but did not meet at the time. Both attended the same wedding two years later, but did not meet then. However, in 2019, Cochran took a trip from Florida to New York, and mutual friends arranged for her to be on a tour led by Tarca. (He worked at the Empire State Building.) He asked to be included in other events when Cochran visited, and the two hit it off. In 2020, they moved in to New York together, just as the COVID lockdown came into effect. Having resisted such an unromantic turn, Tarca was confident the relationship was solid. He was ready to propose.
Now, driving north, Tarca and his parents knew what awaited them, and he was getting more and more nervous. They arrived at the bookstore later than expected, and Cochran’s parents lured her upstairs. Tarca rushed to the car and retrieved the book (hidden in his luggage). Wood, the events coordinator, then guided him to the exhibit. Tarca placed the book in the middle of the shelf, in the main area of literary fiction (close to romance). Cochran had meandered between kids and bestsellers, so Tarca walked over and directed her attention to the events table. Once there, she saw the elegant book. In gold letters on a warm green background, she read an intriguing title. She was holding the book.
“Do you know how much I love you? He asked.
Standing in front of the display (and a group of Northshire booksellers and curious shoppers), Tarca knew what was expected of a fantasy hero.
He fell to one knee.
“Kelly Cochran, will you marry me?” »
His hands went to his mouth.
Later, Cochran would say that she knew he was listening to her. “He knew I loved bookstores,” she said.
His answer was therefore not a surprise. “Yes,” she said.
They kissed and hugged. Applause filled the air and their parents rushed over to hug them.