How We Met
Gianluca and I have known each other for years… Going back we went to rival high schools in Upstate, New York. Gianluca was captain of his soccer team, and I was on swim and dive. (My school wasn’t big enough for a pool, so we would actually shuttle to his school for practice!) Seeing each other in passing but never really thinking about it, we went on our separate ways. I traveled a bit, and he started college locally. Right on the eve of our 21st birthdays, Gianluca and I got in touch. Joking about how we both worked for Victoria’s Secret, where I was a Specialist (kind-of like a sales supervisor) and he assisted with floor sets and heavy lifting. Our conversations flowed so naturally, or phone calls lasted hours, and what had started as a timid friendship had effortlessly worked its way into something more. Being an up-front woman, on our first date I told Gianluca that I had always been in serious relationships, and that I wanted to get married and have a family. (I think I could actually hear my Mother yelling from miles away, “You’ll never get a man like that, Dakoda Lynn!”) Gianluca being first-generation Italian was no stranger to the concepts of romance and family. We agreed to begin a serious relationship, and started officially dating very soon after. A few years had come and gone, with skiing trips, and get-aways, a new puppy, and nearing the end of our college days. Our family and friends were asking when we would get engaged, but we weren’t in any rush. After all, time isn’t something you worry about once you know you’ve found the one. Then finally, just shy of four years into our relationship, Gianluca surprised me. See, I was born and lived in Florida until around second grade. My life before moving to New York was complicated and challenging, for family reasons. But just like every childhood, it had its shining moments. My Mother and I were best friends, and we spent our days at parks, at the beach, shopping, on the boardwalk, or if I was extremely lucky, at Bush Gardens. I loved all of the butterflies and animals… I loved watching my mom panic and run away from the very same things! Yet most of all, I loved that she was willing to go somewhere she hated, to see me happy. After four years of being together, Gianluca knew well how much I loved butterfly conservatories, and had made a plan.
how they asked
I was completely unaware, first off! Our four year anniversary was on June 25th, so I was more than confident that would be the day Gianluca would propose. It turns out that I was wrong. See, earlier in the year we had made the agreement that we would go on three scheduled adventures over the summer. Two of the places we planned together, that last one was a surprise. (So naturally that was the proposal, right?!) It’s June 17th, and Gianluca’s sister who in a florist in Boston had rather randomly stopped at the house, for our niece’s small ballet recital. However, upon hearing about the trip Gianluca and I had set up to go to the butterfly conservatory, she just had to go! Who knew she liked butterflies as much as I did? We traveled for a few hours before having lunch at a little diner, and then finally reaching our destination! Walking inside the conservatory was like being a child all over again. It meant so much to me emotionally that I was having a difficult time processing everything. The aroma was soft and floral, the air was warm and mildly humid. The birds were singing to each other softly while a water fountain gurgled not far away. The butterflies of every color and size would land on our shoulders as if to say, “hello!” before fluttering off to greet the other guests. We rounded a turn, and ended up on a bridge over-looking a koi pond, as a sweet woman approached us with a white box. She asked us if we could do her the honor of releasing a new butterfly into the sanctuary. So excited to welcome this beautiful creature into its new home, I excitedly lifted the white satin lid and watched as a butterfly lifted up, and into the air. By the time I had looked back at Gianluca, he was on one knee! He asked me to marry him, and I was so completely, wonderfully, surprised! It turns out that his sister had contacted the owner and set everything up. (Seriously, how kind of her!) On the way home we stopped at my favorite restaurant that we visit about once or twice a year, walked around town, and promised to return soon.