Paula and Daelin

Image 1 of Paula and Daelin

How We Met

The simple answer is we were introduced by our mutual friend, Liz. But that doesn’t cover the house party I tried to drag him to as my “man candy” to make another guy jealous, the watery $9 college bar sangria we shared after we met, or even the the12-hour hostage style Amtrak ride Daelin asked me to take with him from NYC to Montreal as our first date. In a quintessential bold move, I would later learn is par for the course, Daelinfigured that “after that much time sitting next to each other, she’ll either love or hate me.” It probably helped that I packed my Papa’s infamous snack mix, corn flakes with chopped up bits of mozzarella cheese, bizarre comfort food that definitely served as a conversation starter. And now here we are, six years later and sealing the deal: Two people who break rules and conventions, determined to chart our own paths but inadvertently trapped in our Jewish mothers’ dreams.

Image 2 of Paula and Daelin

How They Asked

The summer before my senior year in college, I went on a big Eurotrip I had saved up for for years, during which I found myself at the Kotel with a big tour group. Since it’s a holy sight for several religions, it’s rumored that wishes and prayers that take place in front of it take on extra sanctity. I had finished stuffing the wishes some of my friends and family had passed along into the wall, when one of my friends from the trip pulled me to a section of the wall where women go to pray for love. I hastily scrawled my wish for a “love that teaches me that I’m capable of loving” with a stick of eyeliner on a piece of pamphlet, as this was something I didn’t think, at 21, that I was capable of. Leaving the wall, a man had grabbed my arm as I lined up with the rest of my group to board the tour bus. I was about to shake off his grip when I saw the intensity of his stare as he wrapped a Kabbalah bracelet on my wrist. “I know you just wished for love,” he had said, “and your wish will come true a year from now, and when it happens, you will remember me.” I had laughed uncomfortably and taken the bracelet off and tucked it into the back pocket of my denim shorts. It was gone from my memory until ten months later, when I ran errands around my college campus, gearing up for my May graduation. At this point, almost four months into dating Daelin, a series of consecutive love songs came onto my iPhone. As I hummed along to the words, it dawned on me in that instant that I was in love for the first time. The realization spread warmly through me, and as I fished the keys to the apartment out of the back pocket of my shorts, the Kotel bracelet I had forgotten about fell onto the floor. It took me a moment to place it, and when I did – the rabbi’s urgent expression flashed in front of my eyes. My wish had come true. A couple of weeks later, Daelin brought me to the riverwalk by his parents’ house – a walk we had done together many times, talking in those early days as one does, about everything and nothing – and told me that he loved me for the first time. It was almost a year to the day of my visit to the wall.

Image 3 of Paula and Daelin

As we recently crossed the threshold of five years together and worked towards our individual goals, the possibility of an engagement was far from my mind. On an innocuous trip to his mother’s place for dinner, Daelin wanted us to take a detour and walk past the river together. Even as we reached the same point where we’d shared so many intimate moments prior, and he launched into a speech about how much we’d grown and experienced together, what was happening didn’t dawn on me – and when he pulled out the ring, my first thought was to ask (bewilderingly) whether it was even real. After a one-minute back and forth in which he assured me that this was “really, truly happening”, my shock only continued as he we entered his mom’s for dinner, where he’d gathered our family and closest friends to celebrate the big moment!

Image 4 of Paula and Daelin

Special Thanks

Caroline O'Dowd
 | Photographer