How We Met
Born one day apart, I always thought it was funny when Tim said “happy birthday, birthday twin!” because we clearly weren’t birthday twins. Little did I know that joint birthday celebrations would become a real thing in our lives.
We met when we were 8 years old. We have no idea what that first meeting was like, or whether it took place on the playground, but we are pretty sure that it was not life changing. From third grade on we were classmates up until we graduated Fountain Valley High School.
Our real meeting took place in June of 2011, when Tim suggested that we meet to “catch up.” I thought that was an interesting choice of words, but thought it would be fun to see someone I had grown up with but had never really known well enough to “catch up” with over dinner, so I agreed.
Tim introduced me to Seasons 52, where we had a long dinner with some very interesting and entertaining conversation. We took a really long time to order because we were talking a lot and we kept accidentally ignoring our menus. When we were almost done with dinner, because we were seated on the outdoor patio area, we ran into two people from high school - Nancy (my bestie who would later be one of my co-MOHs) and Isaac. Nan immediately wanted to come over and say hi, but Isaac said something along the lines of, “No, we shouldn’t disturb them; they look like they’re really into each other,” to which Nan laughed and basically said, no way bro.
So we became four and had a lot of fun reminiscing about high school and laughing. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and I thought nothing of it because I knew I was leaving Southern California for law school soon. But Isaac TOTALLY CALLED IT.
Through Gchat/Gmail, it was easy to keep in touch. In August, we met up again (I think to celebrate me making a final decision re: law school) and this time we went to one of Tim’s favorite restaurants for dinner - SideDoor in Corona Del Mar. Dinner was followed by a movie, “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” which to this day still remains one of my favorites. People kept telling me that this was clearly a date (“It’s dinner and movie, Winny - how obvious does it have to be?”), but I’ve always subscribed to the policy of: it’s not a date unless he tells me it’s a date. Also, my belief that long distance never works or ends well discouraged me from thinking it was a date.
So I packed up and moved to Berkeley for law school, but I noticed that Tim never let a day go by without us talking in some way, shape or form. On September 6, 2011, we decided as crazy and irrational as long distance might be, we were worth a shot. As they say, the rest is history.
how they asked
(From the Groom’s Point of View)
At this point, Winny and I had been dating for close to 2 years now, and technically we’d known each other for almost 20. Not a day has elapsed without us talking, chatting, laughing, meandering through life; I should have an encyclopedia built up by now.
The ideas rattle in my head. Let me think about what won’t work first - she doesn’t want extravagance in public, restaurants are cliché, nothing trite and impersonal that really anybody could do. What are the quintessential things she’ll like every day no matter the circumstances? Certain food items, “round” things, animals, pictures, anything with a personal touch. I can work with this!
We hadn’t shied away from discussing marriage to date. We could point to no epiphany, no defining moment, no pinnacle of relationship status that sparked the proposal. By now it had been woven into the fabric of the relationship. In theory this could take the pressure off the proposal, but if anything, I thought it needed to be memorable to stand out amongst many good days.
During the summer of 2013 I circled a day as my target: August 15. Winny had to move into a new apartment for her 3rd year of law school. I was going to help her move things from So-Cal and help her get settled, so this is a great time. At the very least I can avoid the awkward attempts at contrived excuses to get her to be in a certain place at a certain time.
I bought a ring in July after looking at about one hundred diamonds and designing a setting with some professional help. I asked my mom to help with the items I would need to propose with. We had a number of underlying “themes” in our relationship that I wanted to highlight, all circling around the concept that we’ve been long distance, we’ve traveled frequently to see each other, but despite the transient nature of our lives during this time, we’ve always felt our relationship and our time together could best be described as “home.”
I gathered some pictures from our dates and random moments, and organized them into sets. I combined them with some props, and had my mom (an expert picture framer) prepare them into shadow boxes.
I wrote a series of letters to accompany the sets that created a sequence, and acquired a handful of “very round” stuffed animals that I used to point the way to each set in linear fashion.
The plan is unfolding, the fruits of labor ripening! Only challenge remaining is that these shadow boxes are huge. We wrapped them up, sure, but boy do they stand out. August 14 is our scheduled departure date. I’ve loaded the boxes into a large suitcase to at least slightly deflect suspicion. Immediately she asks “Why that suitcase? You usually travel so light.” Damn! My riposte is a lame excuse - “I needed to clean it out because some snacks from my last flight messed it up.” No more questions for now but the seed is planted; she knows something is up.
Gradually the curiosity grows but I hold the line. During the drive up I might be as transparent as a glass window now but I’ll never admit what I’m up to! We continue to unpack and move Winny’s stuff into her new place.
Finally I have a moment to set everything up. The morning of August 15. I create a hodge podge array that can at least be loosely followed without much coaching. She reads each letter with a combination of a vague look of curiosity and an “aww” here and there. To be honest, at this point the surrounding details of the environment are totally out of my line of sight. I have tunnel vision directly into my brain…nerves…anticipation…hoping when I actually speak it isn’t anticlimactic.
She reads the final one, a piece I wrote to tie it all together. It’s a summary of our time and it’s open ended…home is when we are together. As she finishes, I drop to one knee as is the standard established by the culture of these matters, open the ring box I had been stashing, and ask her to marry me. I’m positive she barely heard me or understood me…perhaps a similar nervous phenomenon befell her…but nothing need be repeated or stated further. We were engaged to be married.