How We Met
In March 2018, I packed up my life into one large suitcase & boarded a one-way flight to Thailand.
During the first month of my arrival, I was taking a course to get certified to teach English, along with 80+ other people from several different countries. One of those 80+ people was Marcello – a tan, tattooed, handsome man from South Africa. When we first introduced ourselves to each other, it didn’t feel like the first time. The moment our hands touched in a shake, there was a breathtaking feeling of electrifying familiarity. Like our long lost souls were finally reconnected. By chance or fate, we happened to get placed in neighboring hotel rooms & ended up hanging in the same circle of new friends.
Over the course of the month, we gravitated toward each other – sitting together on transportation, partnering for projects, trying (& failing) not to laugh during class. During one of our final class lectures, the Operations Manager of the organization noticed our uncontrollable giggling & called us out. He said to Marcello, “I hope you’ve learned as much about teaching as you have about her this month,” pointing to me. He continued with, “The last couple that sat in those same seats at the back of the class & laughed the way you two are, are now married.”
& here we are today – after living together in Thailand, countless days of long-distance, visiting each other’s home countries, & relearning everything about one another in this lifetime – following in their footsteps.
How They Asked
After over a year of long-distance & a challenging year for everyone thanks to the global pandemic, Marcello was finally able to come to America from his home in South Africa.
Since my family travels to Boston from Orlando for the holidays, I planned a road trip so Marcello could still see as much of America as possible during these times. Little did I know, he was also planning his own itinerary with my best friend, Haley. Our first planned stop was to visit Haley at her home in South Carolina, & she suggested driving to Asheville, North Carolina the next day to go on a hike she’s been dying to do.
However, once we arrived in Asheville, we learned that the hike was closed. Instead, the three of us drove through the Blue Ridge Parkway, stopping at lookouts to take in the view of the rolling mountains. Once we reached the last lookout, Haley offered to take photos of Marcello & me.
After smiling for a few photos, Marcello put his arm around me as we faced the beautiful landscape & began telling me how much he loves me. As someone who doesn’t show much affection often, I blushingly laughed, “aww that’s sweet, love you too…we should probably turn around because Hales is getting a lot of photos of our backs.” He held me a little tighter before turning to look me in the eyes. As he said “Mikayla, I love you” again, I could hear the seriousness masking the nerves in his voice, & I could feel my heart skip a beat. He got down on one knee & pulled out a box, asking if I would marry him.
In total shock, I glanced from his face to the box he was holding, with seemingly nothing inside but a shining light. Adding confusion to my list of overwhelming emotions, my initial thought was that it was a symbolic gesture & maybe a ring would come later. And then I panicked because knowing him & his tendencies to misplace things, maybe he lost the ring. But then a huge smile grew across my face as I realized.
I whispered to him, “I think the box is upside down” before we both erupted into uncontrollable laughter, much like our first days in Thailand, & I immediately knew the answer to his question – one wholehearted “YES.”