How We Met
Ronald and I share a unique love story. We met on a tour given by our Graduate Housing Resident Advisor in August 2012. We both moved to New York City the same week; I am from Los Angeles, CA and Ronald is from Miami, FL. We soon discovered that we both were enrolled in the Clinical Social Work Master’s Program at NYU. The week of Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, was a devastating week for many. Although our apartments lacked heat, hot water and electricity for seven days, we were able to seek shelter at one of NYU’s only generator-run buildings, The Kimmel Center, where Ronald first told me, “I think I like you.” I didn’t acknowledge my interest in him that day.
He eventually got the hint and told me “I like you” the next day. On another special morning, as we laid on cots provided to us by NYU, Ronald played one of his favorite songs: “How He Loves Us.” He asked if I was familiar with it. I remember hiding myself as I cried. Little did he know I resorted to that song whenever I was going through something tough as it was a constant reminder to me of how much God loves all of us. I had never shared my favorite worship song in common with another man until this day. I felt God’s presence over us and was given His stamp of approval that week. We went on our first date on November 10, 2012. That day will always be significant to us because we opened up about our life experiences and realized how much our morals and values aligned with one another. Three separate instances on that same day further confirmed that we were meant to be. Ronald and I went to Washington Square Park and met a young married couple with a baby.
They asked us how long we had been married for and if we had any kids. Ronald then invited me to his church, World Changers Church-New York and the Music Director asked if I was his wife. Lastly, while we were eating pizza, another stranger came up to us and said we should get married. Those instances may have not been significant to many, but Ronald and I interpreted them as angels sending us messages that God is and will be the center of this relationship. On February 10, 2013, Ronald’s “like” for me turned into “love.” One night after arduous studying, Ronald and I ventured to our favorite spot, Washington Square Park, where on a snow-covered bench, he wrote “Ronald Loves Lauren.” In response, I quickly pulled out a belated Christmas card I was waiting to give him. In it, I also wrote that I loved him. I was so happy to finally express it and was so grateful that is was mutual!
how they asked
Over the past four years, Ronald learned how significant birthday celebrations were to me. Growing up in a single-parent household provided unique challenges for my mother. Nevertheless, she always managed to make my birthdays extra special. Ronald continued this tradition and on September 3, 2016, I had the best birthday of my life. It all started when I received a disheartening text from Ronald while I was in California. He told me of a mandatory church meeting that was taking place the morning of my birthday. Unlike all other birthdays, Ronald would not spend the entire day with me. Coincidentally, later that very day, I received a text from Alyssa, my best friend from New York who invited me to breakfast the morning of my birthday. I quickly agreed to meet her and snarkily texted Ronald that I had important plans on my birthday. I returned to New York City on September 1, 2016. I was late to breakfast with Alyssa on my birthday.
Instead, we opted to grab coffee. As I greeted her, I noticed she had a camera and was recording me. I didn’t think it was weird. After all, Alyssa is a professional photographer/videographer and is used to capturing special moments such as birthdays on camera. Little did I know that the proposal had already begun. Alyssa mentioned she was also craving cupcakes. As we entered one of my favorite shops, Molly’s Cupcakes, Brendan, the cashier said, “Happy Birthday Wonder Woman, I have a gift for you.” I instantly was dumbfounded since Ronald is the only one who calls me Wonder Woman. I was confused by the gift but thought it was a certificate for free cupcakes since I was a regular customer. I opened the wrapped gift and found a framed photograph of me beautifully surrounded by sunflowers at the top and bottom of picture.
Just above the sunflowers were three things that described me –If any of you have seen the film, “Just Go With It,” you should remember a scene where Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston profess three qualities that they love about each other. Ronald and I have developed this habit and it became our way of cheering each other up and making each other laugh. The back of the frame listed a second location that I should visit. That is when I realized it was a scavenger hunt and Ronald was up to something; it had to be him. Alyssa continued video recording nonchalantly. The second location was one of my favorite restaurants, By Chloe. Manager John said, “Happy Birthday Wonder Woman, I have a gift for you.” He gave me a box of free pastries and another wrapped gift. In it was a second photo of me which also listed three qualities that Ronald loves.
Like before, I was directed to another restaurant. Alyssa and I entered the third location, Café Marie, a restaurant that specializes in Beignets. Cashier Lourdes greeted me and followed suit as she said “Happy Birthday Wonder Woman, here is a gift.” The wrapped gift had a third photograph of me that also had three things that Ronald loves about me. The back of the frame directed me to NYU Law Housing, where Ronald and I lived and worked together. Doorman Illio gave me another wrapped frame. The instructions on back of frame directed me to Washington Square Park bench. It was then I knew what Ronald had up his sleeves. On that snow covered bench, Ronald wrote his love for me over three years ago. As I approached the bench, I saw Ronald dressed impeccably as he carried a wrapped gift and my favorite flowers in his hands –sunflowers.
I also heard a familiar tune being played by Trumpeter Satish. He was playing Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are,” which Ronald dedicated to me four years ago.
As I greeted Ronald he said, “Happy Birthday Wonder Woman” and gave me what I thought was the final gift. He then escorted me to Washington Square Park’s fountain. It was there where a very special surprise was waiting for me.
I was filled with shock and happiness when I saw my mother standing near the fountain. Ronald flew my mother from California and arranged her stay at a hotel the night before! I least expected seeing my mother who I just saw in California two days ago. I always dreamt of my mother witnessing my proposal.
This time, it was not a dream. My mother gave me the last wrapped gift. After I read it, I discovered that Ronald was down on one knee. He asked me to marry him.
Without hesitation, I said of course to God’s best for me and kissed him. This is why September 3, 2016 will always be the best birthday ever. Ronald put so much thought, detail, and love into his proposal; but that is Ronald for you on a daily basis. I am so grateful to call this man my fiancé, and I cannot wait to call him my husband!