I feel stupid swiping right. There’s a 97.8% chance she super liked me by accident. Still, even if that were true, there was no harm in trying. Worst case scenario I get blocked again. Nothing new.
Unless you count the fact that I actually find this girl insanely attractive. Could I really know that I’m attracted to her based on her photos and bio? No. But it looks like we’re headed in the right direction.
Doesn’t matter anyways because I’m not stupid enough to message her first.
If I message her right away I’ll definitely get blocked. It’s happened a few times before.
I’ll just let it be. If she doesn’t block me over the next couple of days then I’ll message her. Right now I have homework to do. Probably shouldn’t be on this app anyways. It’s not like I’m going to go on a date with a stranger in a pandemic.
Every notification on my phone is silent. I hate being disrupted when I’m in the middle of doing something. The only two apps that aren’t silent are my calling app, for emergencies, and Tinder, because I delete it and redownload it so often I forget to turn off notifications.
This is either A. an emergency call, B. a random call from someone I actually like enough to pick up, C. a spam call, or D. a Tinder notification. It’s usually C and sometimes B.
That’s why I felt as shocked as I did when I opened my phone to see a message from this pretty girl Ela.
“Hi! I like your pictures. How long have you been playing guitar?”
This text isn’t only from the most attractive girl I’ve ever seen on tinder, it’s also the most thoughtful message I’ve ever been sent. I know that sounds like a low bar standard, but if you’ve ever tried Tinder for more than a month you also know I’m not exaggerating.
Not to mention it is the only time a girl has ever sent me the first message. I usually message a girl, get a boring hello, ask a question then get a bland answer until the conversation fizzles out (or on spicier days get blocked in return).
In more unfortunate times, a man matches with me and sends me a weird inappropriate joke that makes me wonder if I should turn off the men feature, then I get to be the one doing the blocking.
Once my shock wore off I got giddy. I smiled and worked on my reply.
I told her I liked her pics too. I answered her question and asked her one myself. To my delight, she answered and asked me another question. It went on like this all night. It was like a Q&A with a supermodel. I couldn’t believe a woman so beautiful and interesting would give me the time of day.
We messaged our goodnights and went to bed. I fell asleep that night hoping that I would have a similar day messaging her tomorrow. What were the odds that would happen? Based on past experiences, I had a solid 4% chance.
I woke up expecting to be left on read and never hear from this beautiful stranger again.
Once again, this stranger straight from heaven stands out from the crowd and asks how I’ll be spending my day.
I told her.
We talk from AM to PM.
We do this for days.
We’ve exchanged snaps, phone numbers, and social media’s. I have a feeling that she may want the same things I want, to be more than internet pen pals, but how would I know for sure?
During one of the early days that we spoke she asked what I was looking for when talking to her. I was nervous and afraid I’d scare her off, so I said I was looking for friends.
I was lying.
I wish I hadn’t lied. Because of this I missed out on finding out if she wanted me in “that way” too.
That’s what made it so hard for me to ask her on a zoom date. What if asking her on a date ruined everything? What if she wasn’t interested that way?
What if she really did just want an internet penpal to help her get through the pandemic? I wouldn’t blame her. Talking to her made life feel so much better. Do you all remember the fear and sense of doom that was lurking everywhere in 2020? She was the reason I didn’t completely lose my mind that year. Wouldn’t it be reasonable for everyone to want a new buddy during that time?
“She’s cute, funny, and genuine. What if asking her out screws that up?”
“Dude. Do you want to ask her out?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Then do it.”
It was a small nudge from a friend that convinced me to stop being a total weenie. The worst that could happen was being ghosted. Even though I don’t know Ela that well yet, I have a feeling she wouldn’t ghost me if I asked to video call her. I’ll just avoid saying the word date when I ask.
That way if she wants to just be friends it’ll be like zoom hangout.
She said yes and she seemed genuinely excited for our zoom “date”.
“Can I get your email to send you an invite?”
“Don’t make fun of it.” She messaged me before sending it.
I didn’t make fun of it at the time. I just told her it was cute. But I didn’t say I wouldn’t make fun of it once we officially started going out. To this day she hasn’t lived it down.
“I’m excited to talk tonight :)” I messaged her the morning of our zoom.
“Me to :)”
The date was everything I could’ve asked for and more. We click like we’re long lost playground partners. We laughed, joked, and had a great conversation. I didn’t want it to end, but I know it had too.
We’d been giggling for nearly 20 minutes and staring at each other in an awkward standoff of who would say bye first.
I can do this all night. Even though I should probably do some homework or sleep.
After what felt like an eternity she broke the standoff with a gentle “It’s been really nice talking, but I should probably go to bed. I have work in the morning.”
This broke me out of my awkward daze. I’m happy I didn’t have to say it. I look at the time on the bottom of my computer monitor and see that it’s just past midnight.
“Oh gosh, I didn’t realize how late it was. It was fun talking to you too. I’ll text you tomorrow, sleep tight.”
“Goodnight,” she said through a smile as she ended the call.
I sat there stunned. Feeling slightly awkward at how the call ended, but more excited about how it had gone.
I have never felt so excited to talk to someone. That night I layed in bed wondering how I could get her to go on an in person date with me.
It took a few more zoom calls, but we finally worked out a way to safely meet up in person.
That’s how I got here.
Standing in front of the mirror, trying to find the right thing to wear.
“You look fine! Stop pacing so much, you’re making me nervous.”
My roommate helped me prepare for our first date.
To honor social distancing guidelines we were having a picnic outside my apartment.
I was insanely nervous because not only was I about to go on a date with the sweetest girl I’d ever met, I also couldn’t get within 6 feet of her.
Life is unfair.
“I feel stupid, but fine. I need to take a shower anyways.”
“What if she comes while you’re in there?”
“She shouldn’t be here for around another 30 minutes. My showers take like 5.”
I took my outfit off and hopped in the shower.
A few minutes later I got out the shower, put the same outfit on, and felt like a total idiot when I saw a couple missed calls from my date and a text saying “I’m outside, I think?”
“EIGHT MINUTES AGO. I MADE HER WAIT 8 MINUTES!” I shouted to my roommate as I finished slipping on my shoes and headed outside.
“YOU’LL DO GREAT!” I heard her shout back.
I didn’t even have time to process my nerves. I was still caught up on the fact that this girl was outside, in the dark, alone, waiting on my dumb ass.
I went so fast that I forgot I was meant to be nervous. I just ran until I saw someone outside and said “Ela?”
She looked back at me and the nerves settled in again.
Have you ever been so nervous you become an entirely different person? In these moments you either choke and become super quiet, hardly able to utter your own name, or you start to talk way too much, like you’re the life of the party.
In the back of your mind you’re constantly going over the stakes. It’s now or never. Roll with it or freeze up. Everything you do in this moment will affect your future. Don’t choke! And don’t annoy the hell out of her.
That was us on our first date. Ela could hardly speak. Fearing that one wrong word would set the grass underneath our blankets on fire.
I couldn’t shut up. Hoping I could out speak our future into existence. Each word felt like a step in the right direction. If I just keep talking, she’ll start to like me more and more. She might even love me by the end of this date.
I didn’t mind her quietness, and she didn’t seem to mind my insufferable babbling.
In her silence I felt her affection. I couldn’t touch her, but we were far apart enough to remove our masks. She may not have said much, but her smile said it all for her. She didn’t hate me, she was just as nervous as I was.
It didn’t help either of us that I couldn’t hug her or kiss her that night. The awkwardness of our physical distance lumed between us all night. If we were different people it might’ve been enough for us to ghost either. But we aren’t different people, and we both wanted each other more than we wanted to flee the pains of social distance dating.
Dating during a global pandemic, that’s full of unknown threats and lockdowns, is intimidating. One day the government can tell you not to leave your home and you’re stuck zoom dating for months which might even lead to years. You don’t know. Everythings always in the hands of someone else.
We just took it day by day.
A barrier like this either makes a relationship stronger or it ruins it disapear before it even exists.
In a lot of ways, the pandemic made us grow closer. It made our dates and loving gestures more creative.
“Did you check your mail?” I said to her during one of our daily FaceTime calls.
She was in a pink pajama set getting ready for bed. It was 10pm and she was moving as if she’d be asleep in the next ten minutes. Neither of us would be asleep until sometime after 2am.
“Yes I did.” She said as she smiled. “Can I open it now?”
“Yeah!” I said, not even trying to conceal my excitement.
She tore through the packaging to find a desktop microphone.
“Now we can zoom call again.”
The microphone on her laptop was horrible. It was getting in the way of our zoom calls.
She smiled at me. “I can’t wait. You gonna take me on another zoom date?” She smiled and answered her own questions by making a face that said “of course you are”, in a way that is uniquely Ela’s.
I’ve never seen that exact look on another person’s face. And I wouldn’t ever want to.
We didn’t meet in person again for a little while. It seemed a bit dangerous since we had completely different social circles. I only saw my roommates and she saw her roommate and work colleagues. This was the height of quarantine life. Before anyone knew anything and most of us were afraid to leave our homes.
That didn’t mean I didn’t want to see her though. I just wanted to be safe about it.
I started planning our second in person date. Up until now, we were just dating. We both liked each other, but we hadn’t made anything official. I was nervous that I was taking things too fast, but at the same time I couldn’t deny how badly I wanted to ask her to be my girlfriend.
Can you ask someone to be your girlfriend if you’ve never even held hands?
There are no rules to social distance dating.
I was nervous, super nervous, but I couldn’t get the question out of my mind. I wasn’t sure I’d have the guts to ask her on our date, but I knew I wanted to.
I texted her to set things in motion.
“Wanna have an in person date again?”
“I would love to <3”
This time I was determined not to keep her waiting. I set everything up ahead of time. Our picnic was ready to go well before she arrived.
Then something annoying happened. It started raining.
You can’t have an outdoor date in the rain. Not unless you want to soak your date. You also shouldn’t be within 6ft of someone not in your inner circle.
My sense of caution urged me to cancel the date, but my desire to see her was stronger.
What did we do? We sat at a table, opposite ends, and kept our distance all night. In-door social distance dating. Not technically as safe, but we did the best we could.
This time I also came prepared with activities too. To pull back the awkwardness of not being able to hug her, I bought some arts and crafts.
The moment she came through my door I almost lost my will to stay away from her. She looked amazing in her little pink tank top. This girl could be my girlfriend soon. If I play my cards right, it could happen tonight.
“Should we make bracelets or bookmarks first?”
I have never had so much fun making 90s themed beaded bracelets with someone. When I say bracelet making I’m talking about a 2007 ad for friendship bracelets that include beads, letters, and different color strings.
There were a few times that I would stop everything and stare at her smile. She has the most beautiful smile. I tried to make these moments quick so I didn’t freak her out.
In one of those staring moments I decided tonight was definitely my night. While she got to work on making her bracelet, I got to work on something special myself. I also pulled out my phone and secretly texted my sister in the bathroom, I needed someone to hype me up.
I had recently come out to my whole family as gay. All because I knew I wanted more with Ela. So for the first time ever, I was free to share all the goodness of this day with my family. I was also able to share everything on social media.
This was the day Ela gave me a painting of my get psyched logo.
If you look online you could figure out when we started dating. I imagine no one would do that, but my point is I was able to publicly share the girl I love with no fear of being “outed”. It made the night all the more special. Knowing that if she said yes to me, my girlfriend and I could go public about it. We could share our love with the world.This is one of the reasons I’m so obsessed with posting about her to this day.
Before we started making bookmarks I asked if she wanted to go to the porch and light up some sparklers. She said yes. She seemed excited to go out and get some air. My heart was racing.
We played with our sparklers for a bit doing the good old twirling, making hearts in the air, spelling our names, etc., then we got on our last few sets of sparklers.
My head felt like it was going to explode. I wanted to ask her out on the porch. Something about it felt perfectly romantic, and I thought I’d get too nervous if I was inside where my roommates could hear.
I knew that it was now or never. I needed to ask her before the sparklers were out, before we went inside. This was the moment.
It all probably happened in under five minutes, but it felt like a lifetime. When the second to last sparkler died, a little part of my courage went with it. What if she says no? What if it’s too soon? I can’t ruin this.
She stood there looking at me as my heart fell out of my chest.
“Wanna go back inside?” She asked.
That got me going. I didn’t wanna miss this moment.
I pulled the thing I had been working on out of my pocket and said “I want to ask you something first.”
She couldn’t see it yet, but it was a small keychain that said “Date me?”
She looked at me with wide eyes. She may not have been able to see the charm, but I think she knew what I was about to say. A look of surprise spilled over her face.
Too late to back out now.
What did I say? I hardly remember. I sounded like Stuttering Bill. All I remember is how I finished the question.
“Will you go out with me?”
She started shaking her head before I could even finish. The question made no sense, since we were already dating, but once I saw her head start shaking yes, I got the courage to ask my real question.
“I mean, will you be my girlfriend?”
“Yes!” She smiled big. I couldn’t believe it. Even though I wanted the yes, and thought I would get it, I still felt overjoyed.
She didn’t hesitate on her yes, and it made me fall for her even more.
I also fell harder when she started casually making fun of me for taking so long to get the question out.
I rambled a lot before I got that question out.
I have a girlfriend now.
“I wish I could hug you.” she said.
I wish we met before the pandemic.
Girlfriend quickly turned into best friend. Best friend started feeling like my forever friend. Then we finally had our moment. We finally had the chance to get in each other’s 6 foot bubble.
This was after a couple months of indoor distance dates.
Yes, I do realize that a lot of things we did at the time were silly. Especially considering how safe we both were and how we saw no one but those we lived with. But you can’t judge someone for how they cope with their first pandemic.
I’ll never forget the day we first broke our distancing policy.
I won’t give you all the details, because that would be way too much information for the internet, but our first kiss was amazing.
Part of what made it so amazing might have been the buildup. There was a feeling of relief in our intimacy.
Before you think too hard on that, get your head out the gutter, all we did was kiss.
That kiss was like magic.
Most people meet someone, go on a date, kiss after one of those first few dates, date and hangout more, then, if they really like each other, end up staying together and utter the words “I love you” as some solidifying romantic gesture. Not everyone has this experience, but this is what I’ve learned from TV and my former sorority sisters.
I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me backtrack my story. It’ll make this moment more magical.
Before our kiss, when we slept on separate air mattresses and always kept ourselves physically distant, we spent all our time talking, crafting, and getting to know each other.
We met, we dated, but we had to skip the kissing part.
We really liked each other, but we were in uncharted territory. There were no ground rules for how to date a girl during a global pandemic. I found a few articles about the subject, but they all basically said “Don’t kiss a stranger haha!” Which wasn’t helpful at all.
I was scared when I asked her to be my girlfriend, and I was even more scared now because I felt like I was falling in love with a girl I’d only held hands a few times outdoors.
Not exactly a romantic physical touch. Even a hug would’ve been better.
Either way I started to realize that I was in love with her.
The question was, is it appropriate to tell her that before I even held her close to me?
Let me set the scene.
We stay up late together because neither of us wants our precious time together to end. To sleep is to lose more than we gain.
There’s coloring books, beads, and paper scattered everywhere. For the first time in a long time, I don’t care to pick up the mess in my apartment. All of my attention is on the beautiful girl in front of me. 6 feet in front of me. A mess can be cleaned anytime, but these days together are rare and beautiful.
I don’t just like spending time with Ela. I love it. I look forward to it all week.
As I work, I scribble love notes to her. I wait on her texts and spend too much time working on my replies. I count the days, hours, and minutes until our next planned meetup. When I get restless, I plan activities for us.
I spend my alone time imagining how it’ll be when she’s in my home again.
I wonder if she does the same.
I feel like she does, but how could I know for sure. I can only guess by the way she looks at me.
She smiles in a way that no girl has ever smiled at me. There’s a hint of shy-ness behind a bursting smile of excitement. She likes this as much as I do, as far as I can tell.
Today’s activity is a Spanish lesson. We’re using a textbook of mine to quiz each other.
“What is the difference between Ser and Estar?”
I’m trying to focus on the activity. Trying to clear my mind and answer the question. I know the answer, I took Spanish 3 only a few months ago, but I still can’t manage to pull the memory from my brain. All I can think about is how I’m going to tell her I love her. I love our time together. I love how she makes me feel and I love all the things I’ve learned about her.
I plan to tell her that I love how expressive she is. I can always tell what she’s feeling by paying attention to her face.
I love her sense of humor. Our hangouts are full of constant laughter.
I love how excited she gets when she puts on a new outfit. She always looks amazing, and she knows it.
I love her confidence.
I tell myself that if I can come up with so many things I love about her, I should suck it up and tell her I love her. What’s the worst that can happen?
She doesn’t have a car either so it’s not like she can drive away from me.
Who cares if we’ve never touched? It’s true. I love her. Why not say it?
The only reason I can think of: I’m a weenie.
Even though I know what I want to say and I feel confident that she won’t be totally creeped out.
That doesn’t make it any less scary.
I’ve zoned out now. What did she ask? We’re doing a Spanish lesson. I guess I should just say something. Shit, that’s it! I’ll say it in Spanish. It’ll be smooth and a little less scary.
“Te amo.” I blurt out.
“What?” She says, looking flustered, a little confused.
On the bright side she doesn’t look upset or freaked out.
That doesn’t stop me from wondering if she was only saying what because she didn’t want to say it back.
I started to panic inside. What if this wasn’t the right time? What if she’s annoyed that I’m saying I love her but still can’t kiss her because of quarantine? I can’t let this moment drag on, if I back out now I might hurt her feelings. It’s now or never again. How do I keep doing this to myself? I wish I was better at just saying how I feel. Maybe things would be easier if we met during a more stable year. Stop thinking, just something already!
I took my shot again. “I said te amo.”
Now she’s blushing. She makes a face that says please clarify what you mean. That expressiveness I love is popping out. She’s even gesturing with her hands to say COME ON LEEANN DON’T LEAVE ME HANGING.
“I LOVE YOU!” I blurt out loudly.
We burst into laughter. Both of us.
Through our laughs she barely gets out “I just wanted to make sure you meant it before I said it back. I love you too.”
We laughed about it some more. Partly from our settling nerves, partly because we couldn’t do the normal kiss that usually follows. Once we settled down I asked her if she really thought I’d jokingly say te amo without meaning it, and she explained that she was just as nervous as I was.
This is one of my favorite memories of ours.
We said I love you to each other before our first kiss.
Our major relationship events happened in a strange order, but what can you expect from a tinder date during a pandemic? My best friend was now my girlfriend who I loved. I said it out loud and made it real. It strengthened the feeling.
In the back of my mind I was starting to feel like she was the one, but it was a little soon to say that out loud.
It didn’t take long for us to get there though.
One of my other favorite memories was the day Ela told me she would consider marriage. It wasn’t some grand proposal or anything, we were laying in my horrible twin sized bed together when she casually said that she liked the way Mrs. Diaz sounded for her.
I have no idea what we were talking about before then, I just remember that we were laughing and when she said that my laugh came to a full stop. I wasn’t scared or anything, but long ago, when we first started dating, she told me marriage wasn’t something she was interested in. I’ve always wanted to get married, but I would never force that on someone, even though it made me a little sad. I knew that we were too early in our relationship to end things over that difference. But I never brought it up again or pressed her on it. I figured we’d cross that bridge when we got there.
This was the first time we’d spoken about it since the first time it came up several months back.
“I thought you didn’t see yourself getting married?” I was smiling as I said it, but I was nervous about the answer. I couldn’t help my grin though, she was thinking of being Mrs. Diaz.
“Well, I only said that because I never thought I’d find someone I’d want to spend the rest of my life with. I’ve never met someone who made me feel that way like you do. The thought of being Mrs. Diaz is a lot better than just being Mrs. anyone else.”
Our laughter got loud again. I was laughing out of joy. I loved the thought of Mrs. Ela Diaz. I think she was laughing at how huge my grin was after she said that.
That’s not the moment I decided to propose to her, but it was the moment I realized I could be proposing to her someday.
It was also the moment our relationship took a turn for the best. We were both committed to this in the long run, and now that we said it out loud, it was time to talk about what our future would be like together.
We dreamed of our future home, our pets, our retirement, and all the things you talk about with the person you’re madly in love with.
Then, slowly, our conversations got more real. Things went from the far future to the near future.
“Hey, my lease is ending soon.”
“I have space at my place. It’s always open to you.”
What started as a far fetched proposal quickly turned into arranging times and dates to pack her boxes and move them to my place.
I used to think it was foolish to move in with your partner before marriage. I threw that opinion out the door when I realized how lovely the thought of living with Ela sounded.
You don’t need to be married to move in together. You don’t need to be anything to move in together. Don’t let some random person tell you how to live your life. Even though I wasn’t married to her, I was committed to her. I saw engagement as a when, not an if.
“When the day comes and I propose…” I’d say to her. “Is there anything special you want?”
I wanted to be with her. It was simple. We both had our nerves at the beginning, but by the time we moved in together the nerves were gone. It was all excitement at that point. There was something special about the thought of getting to see her everyday.
We weren’t just roommates though, we were starting to merge our lives together. And that was the most exciting part.
Like meeting the family.
I’ve never been a social person. And like a lot of people, that got much worse when the pandemic locked us all down. Meeting new people wasn’t only a safety issue, it was something I was no longer used to. I wanted to sit at home all day with Ela playing games and talking about the future. But the reality of a relationship is we need to make sure our lives fit together. Even if I didn’t feel like leaving my home or calling new people.
I met most of her family through video calls. I remember those calls more than I remember the jobs I had at the time.
Her older brother was enthusiastic, chill, and a good conversationalist. He has some cute kids too. Her older sister was more quiet. Still friendly, but our conversation was a lot shorter. I found that comforting, since I’m not the best at talking to people in high pressure situations.
Meeting your future in-laws counts as a high pressure situation.
Then I got to meet her mother and twin brother. I could do that in person since they both lived here and were in Ela’s quarantine bubble.
I’ve been to my soon to be mother in-laws place so many times I hardly remember the first time I met her. Honestly, that place feels like a second home to me now. I do remember being super nervous for the occasion though, and being relieved to find that her mother was friendly, funny, chill, and a great cook.
Her twin was a lot like her personality wise, but very different hobby wise. He’s a cool fellow. We have similar music tastes.
Then there was her best friend. I met her a couple of times since they lived together before she lived with me, but spending more time with her somehow also made me feel closer to Ela.
I wasn’t just her girlfriend anymore. I got to see the life she live before we met. How they ate, hung out, etc., I got to see the world through her lens.
Our lenses are very different. It was a beautiful thing seeing the world from a new perspective.
Being with Ela, seeing her world, and learning about her life changed me in a lot of ways. It taught me a new way to live.
She also met and called my family. Those meetings meant just as much to me. I love showing her off. The mending process is one the scariest and most risky parts of a new relationship, but it can also be the most rewarding.
She was serious, I was serious, and now our families were involved. We were one step closer to the promise of forever. We were both clearly feeling, expressing, and acting like this relationship would be long term. I kept thinking about how amazing it would be to propose to her, but I wasn’t sure how to know when the time was right.
One day it just happened.
I don’t remember every detail about that day, but I’ll never forget the feeling I had that made me realize it was time.
We were sitting somewhere together. Maybe in bed, maybe on our futon, it doesn’t matter. We were relaxing, likely watching a youtube video together, and she rested her head on my shoulder.
That’s when I knew.
In an instant I had a rush of euphoria shoot through my body. It started in my head and slowly trickled it’s way down through my body until even my toes felt it.
One thought flooded my mind.
I want to feel this, with you, forever.
I started planning my proposal that day. I wish I could explain the feeling better, but it’s one of those feelings that you can rave about all day but would never understand until you felt it yourself. Like the sweet sensations of sexual pleasures or the pure joy of eating your favorite food stoned off your ass.
I thought about proposing constantly. When I went out on my runs, on the toilet, even during my workday. I imagined what it’d be like. I even had the guts to start asking her more serious questions like “What would be too soon to propose? Would you want advanced warning if I were planning something?”
I figured these questions were a dead giveaway, but I think she thought I was planning something the following year or so. Or maybe she didn’t mind since we talked about the future a lot like this.
It wouldn’t be long after I asked this question that I went on Etsy, found a ring that I thought was perfect, sent it to my family to review, and purchased it.
Things did not go as planned after I clicked checkout.
A lot of things happened between that moment and the moment I proposed. They aren’t the happiest memories of my life, so I won’t add them to this story. All you need to know is that I went through a really strange time, had to go somewhere to get better, and she supported me through the whole experience.
It wasn’t terribly long, but it was a remarkable moment in our relationship. She was there for me in one of my worst times. That’s something I’ll never forget.
The day I was able to go back home I ran into her arms and felt that drug-like happiness that flooded through me whenever I truly took a moment to look at her. I didn’t want our engagement to become associated with the event, so I told her I’d wait a bit before proposing.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention something. While I was away her ring arrived in the mail.
She figured out that it was her ring by the package size, the suspicious questions I’d been asking, and my shocked reaction when we were on the phone together and she said I got a package from Etsy.
Thankfully she didn’t open it upon my one wish that she didn’t see the ring before the occasion.
I wasn’t mad that the surprise was ruined, but I wanted to see her face when she opened that little box and saw her ring. That’s one of the reasons it was so hard for me to wait on the proposal. She jokingly brought up the ring from time to time, out of excitement, and I was starting to feel like I’d cave if she asked to see it again.
That’s why my mom ended up with the ring. It’s not that I didn’t trust Ela. She was only joking when she asked to see it. I didn’t trust my own excitement.
“Sure. I’ll hold onto it until you’re ready to propose.”
The painful thing is I figured it’d be months before I’d get my next chance. I was originally going to propose in another city during a vacation we were planning, but those plans changed when I had to leave my old job, and I didn’t think I’d be able to vacation for a while once I got a new job.
During my wait and job hunting experience I ended up having more and more of those euphoric moments with Ela. It happened when cooking dinner, playing just dance, or stopping by our favorite restaurant. Each time it happened I became more convinced that waiting was not the right move.
Why was I waiting again?
Around the time I started to rethink my decision to wait, an opportunity struck. I was moving from my old job to a new one and I had a few free days between.
“Want to go to the beach?”
I knew she’d say yes. She’d been wanting to go to the beach since we met.
“Are you serious?!”
We didn’t wait long. It must’ve been about two hours or less before our AirBnb was booked. I even bought tickets to the local aquarium.
One thing was still missing though: the ring.
My mother lives about an hour and forty minutes from me. As luck would have it, opportunity struck again. I needed to get my vaccine and there were none available near me. There was one available near my mom.
I drove to her, hung out for a while, then told her I wanted the ring. She was a little surprised at how quickly I’d come back for it, but she was supportive. Her biggest thing was asking me if I was sure that the timing was right. Considering everything that had happened that year the concern was well placed.
“Yes.” I told her. “I don’t have a doubt in my mind.”
She gave me the ring, wished me luck, and I headed back home to prepare for our beach trip.
I thought she would’ve seen it coming. The beach is a romantic place and I was just at home with my mom. I was lucky that the vaccine story wasn’t suspicious at all, and Ela was respectful of my wish to wait, so she saw the trip as my way of just trying to give us a break after the stressful time we’d had.
It was finally time to go to the beach. I was as nervous as can be, and she looked like the happiest girl in the world. It was as amazing as I imagined our honeymoon trip would be.
I had the ring, our plans were squared away, and my proposal speech was rehearsed and ready.
“I can’t believe we’re going to the beach!” she said with the biggest smile on her face.
I can’t believe I’m finally going to propose! I thought to myself. Out loud I said, “This is going to be fun.”
And it was fun. Our AirBnb was way nicer than we expected. We spent the first night gawking at the room and giggling about how lucky we got. Our host was friendly and the space screamed romance. It was late when we got there, so after some short TV and video game time we went off to bed.
The next day was just as sweet and romantic as I was hoping it would be. Even though most of the day my thoughts were blurred by my anxiety, I still found the experience amazing. We had some good food, went to the aquarium, and sat around the beach to get our tan on.
Our trip was full of laughs, amazement, and excitement to see everything around us. She couldn’t even tell that I spent 96.7% of my mental energy trying to find the right time and place to pop the question.
I almost proposed around 11 times on that trip.
There was the beauty of the aquarium that tempted me. I loved the outdoor section. It was mesmerizing and she loved watching the turtles. It just didn’t feel right. The space was too crowded and I didn’t want to ruin our trip by zoning out every five seconds while I imagined a good location for the question.
And I left the ring in the car. I thought they were going to check our bags.
The beautiful isolated trails we walked also tempted me. I even considered doing a private proposal in our room at one point since proposing in public was starting to seem like mission impossible to me.
Each time I considered proposing I knew I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It didn’t feel right to do it anywhere besides the beach. And for some reason, waiting until the end of the trip felt like the right move.
Movies make it seem so easy. You feel amazing, the vibe is romantic, and everyone around you is adding to the atmosphere. In reality, if you propose in public, you feel nervous as shit, the vibe is slightly awkward and tense, and everyone around you is being obnoxiously loud making it hard to hear yourself think. At least that was how I felt.
After feeling nervous for a couple of days the pressure was on for me to pop the question. We only had one more chance to go to the beach before we drove off the next morning.
By the time I had my chance we had already done all our normal rounds for the day. Ate good food, saw cool things, and crossed our last few items off our to-do list. Now we were going to wait on the beach until it was time to head back to the AirBnb.
“Let’s set up the towels here.” She suggested, as we were walking along the beach together.
“There’s too many people around, maybe we should keep walking and find something more private.” I was horrified to think of proposing to her in front of so many people. My stomach turned and I wondered why I didn’t go with a more private proposal plan.
“There’s gonna be people everywhere babe. Can we just set up here?” She pleaded, ready to set up her blanket and continue her tanning session from yesterday.
“Okay, that’s fine.” I’d just have to make do. No need to annoy her right before I propose.
Watching her sunbathe was a beautiful sight. She looked so peaceful and content. I knew I was making the right choice, I just needed to calm down and get the question out already.
My nerves were shot. I kept wondering when I should do it. Everytime I thought about doing it I’d look over at her glowing face and gently closed eyes. I’m glad one of us was at peace that day.
Now? No, she’s relaxing, let her chill. Now? No, there’s a bunch of seagulls being loud. Now? No, some kid just kicked sand on her blanket, not exactly romantic.
I had no idea when I’d get my perfect moment and it was driving me crazy. Right before all hope felt lost, Ela said something that saved the day.
“I want to get some more coffee from that shop we went to yesterday.”
Finally, time for me to set things up and figure this out. “Oh nice, yeah you should go get some. I can stay here and watch our stuff.”
“Okay, I’ll be back in a minute, love.”
“Text me when you get there! I love you.”
“I love you too.” she said.
The moment she was too far to see me I started to set up my phone so I could capture the moment. I also pulled out the ring and started fumbling over it while I tried to figure out whether I should sit or stand. It couldn’t have been long, but I got so caught up in trying to pose myself, and the camera, that I didn’t notice Ela walking back toward me.
By the time I saw her it was too late. I fumbled to hide the ring behind our small cooler, but it was a mute cause at this point. She knew what was going to happen. I could tell by the slight confusion and huge grin spread on her face. I said screw it to my nerves, kneeled down, looked right at her, and completely forgot the speech I’d prepared.
I still have the video, but I’d rather not share every awkward thing I fumbled while she smiled at me in astonishment. Instead of giving some heartfelt speech about how amazing she was, everything I loved about her, and why I knew she was the one, I said “The last few months have been amazing with you.”
Not a lie. It just lacks groundbreaking engagement territory. You won’t see an engagement like mine on TV.
Still, she said “Yes!” excitedly put on her ring, and gave me the most relieving hug I’ve ever felt in my life. We took pictures together and had some nice friendly drunk people take pictures of us too. They gave us our “engagement ball” pictures, a fun memory we’ll never forget.
Even with my rough speech, this day turned out to be one of my favorite memories. We shared a bottle of wine and messaged our close friends the news. It was one of those nights you never forget and feel permanently thankful for experiencing.
We decided to spend the rest of our lives together. And both of us were excited about it.
It’s funny to think how this all started.
One day, I decided to get on tinder, as I sometimes did. I swiped right on this cutie who messaged me first. A couple months short of a year into our relationship, I got down on both legs and asked her to be my wife.
From there we became an us.
Our lives have fully intertwined.
Have you ever wondered what love really looks like? What it looks like.
Love is the rush of emotion you get when you see the person you’d do anything with and everything for. The person you apologize to after a silly argument. The person you split chores with and look for new apartments together. It’s the person you want to call first when you get good news. The person you love regardless of what they wear, how they do their hair, or what album they play on repeat every time you get in the car together (even when you ask them to play something different).
The person who gets the Aux cord when you ride together. The person you get up for at 2am when they’re thirsty and don’t want to get out of bed. The person who you’re more than happy to support in their personal endeavors. The one you kiss when they’re sick because their germs don’t scare you. (That’s probably not smart, but love can be that way.)
There is beauty in the simplicity of life-long love. Everyday isn’t flowers and picnics, but everyday can feel amazing if you let it.
I tell my fiance I love her everyday. I say it so she knows I always mean it, and I say it as a reminder to myself of how lucky I am to have someone so amazing to love.
It’s not the most over-the-top story, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wrote this out for her, so one day we can share it with our kids. Or our dogs. Depending on how things go in the next twenty years.
This story isn’t to teach you what love is (I don’t think anyone’s qualified for that.) It’s to share a story I never want to forget.
Love is finishing this story at 5am and looking over at my sleeping fiancé who still gives me that rush of euphoria. All the way to my toes.
The last few months have been amazing.
By Leeann Diaz