Yep. You read correctly. It’s official.
It’s exciting, crazy and surprising all at the same time! To be honest, I don’t know anyone else who could handle my OCD for excessive organization and my fluctuating indecisiveness. But after a cold March night strolling along the Danube, Dan popped the question and I said yes!
We met at a pub night back in university (if it weren’t for each of our friends, we both almost opted to stay home that night). I struck up a conversation with him, deciding to make the most of it while I was there. We hit it off well and then went our separate ways that night. We were both breaking away from a previous long-term relationship at the time and the last thing we were looking for was yet another. I guess fate had other plans because we’ve now been dating for 12 years.
How Travel Kept Us Together
Travel has changed both of us and I think it’s also a big part of what has kept us together. Before my two-month backpacking trip to Europe and before he set out to live in Spain for six months, we were very different people. We argued over bad habits and the little annoyances the way many couples do, and placed high expectations on each other. We had breakups and makeups, but the more we travelled the more we saw our perspective on life change. We reconnected in Prague, learned to recognize the simple things in life; what matters and what doesn’t, what to focus on and what to let go of.
We didn’t often celebrate anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, or shower each other with gifts, and I recall receiving flowers only twice in our dating life. We began to value more our time together over money; sharing experiences over possessions.
How it all went down
In January we planned our biggest adventure yet. Dan had just quit his 9-5 job and we were both finally location independent at the same time. We planned to work from Thailand for a month, a place we were excited to explore – and the first time we would go so far east. But my phone rang the weekend we were supposed to leave.
“Hey I can’t go. I have something to take care of before we leave.”
WHAT?? My face turned tomato red and I was furious he was going to make us postpone our trip. I hung up the phone abruptly, cursing. I don’t even think I said goodbye. I had craved phad thai for weeks, planned on a spiritual meditation retreat, and an entire day volunteering with elephants.
What the heck could be more important than this trip??
Two Months Later
Budapest during the day is romantic enough but I had seen pictures of the city at nighttime along the Danube and I so badly wanted my camera to capture what my mind had envisioned. Like lights over the riverbank and the reflection of the water off the Parliament building.
“Can we come back here at night?” I begged. It was cold, wintery, and a long walk from the flat we were renting in the 6th.
“Sure,” he agrees.
We did go back but it took us 10 days (which also happened to be his birthday). I did get the photo of Parliament at night and those sparkly lights I was looking forward to but I felt sad and apologized that we hadn’t planned much else for his 34th birthday that day. What a terrible girlfriend I was.
“I think it’ll get better,” he says.
Before walking back to our flat, we stopped by the river to sit and take in the view. He suggested we take a selfie.
“Really?” I said shockingly. You see, as much as we travel and take photos of places we visit, we often forget to take photos of us. As my hand reached for my camera and aimed to frame the shot of us just right he tells me, “something’s missing.”
I paid no attention – it was cold and late, and we had walked at least a couple of kilometres from one side of the river to the other. I was ready to snap this selfie and call it a night. But he unwrapped his right arm from around my shoulder only to open a small black box with a beautiful infinity-style ring and simple round stone.
My jaw dropped and I went silent. When you’re in this moment it feels like infinity before you are processing exactly what is transpiring. I was in shock and felt frozen in time. The river behind me and the people walking by – all of it motionless. We had talked about getting married before but I had no idea it would happen on this trip. I even forgot to give him an answer and instead of crying like girls usually do in moments like this, I couldn’t stop laughing.
Is that weird that I didn’t cry?
Dan’s version of the story is even more interesting. I learned later he had been carrying this little black box in his pocket the entire trip! And now it all made sense. That day I hung up the phone cursing his name is because he was waiting for my new bling to arrive in the jewellery store!
Like we do in our favourite cities we visit, we tied a love lock to the Chain Bridge and threw away the key!
The next day I treated him to the biggest piece of chocolate mousse cake from Café Muvesz.
I wonder what his birthday will be like next year?
In case you missed it, check out our engagement photos in Prague.