My friends always joked that I was going to meet some guy on my travels who would sweep me off my feet. I laughed and said I hoped it would be an Australian.
Even still, I think we were all a little bit surprised when that’s exactly what happened.
Jared and I met in Bruges, Belgium back in 2008. We were both traveling on Busabout – he had just quit his Australian Government job to travel, and I was on an internship as Busabout’s summer blogger.
I’d initially proposed an itinerary that took me around Europe counterclockwise, starting in Paris. The Busabout bosses decided that I should go clockwise, which is why I went to Bruges, a city I hadn’t even heard of before.
The rest, as they say, was history.
Jared and I met at the Snuffel Hostel in Bruges. I noticed that he was wearing a Notre Dame t-shirt and got over-excited.
“Hey, Notre Dame! That’s in Indiana! I’m from Indiana! Have you ever been there?”
No, he hadn’t been to Indiana. His brother had brought the t-shirt back for him.
But the floodgates were open, and we talked all night between watching some crazy local dance moves in a Bruges bar.
We couldn’t stop talking the whole way to Amsterdam, either.
“I wanted to kill you guys,” his friend, Chris, told me later. “Jared’s voice was so loud and all I wanted to do was sleep.”
We continued on to Berlin, met up again in Vienna, then had to say goodbye weeks later in Munich.
But plans are made to be broken, so I wiggled out of my Eastern Trekker tour a day early and shot from Salzburg back to Vienna, where Jared had landed a job as a pub crawl guide. Several months later I went back again, then Jared came to stay with me in London.
Then we traveled through Turkey, Egypt, Portugal, Ireland & the UK before moving to Australia for a year. Now we’re teaching in Korea.
They (the infamous ‘they’) say that ‘when you know, you know’.
I was always a little bit skeptical of this phrase, but as the months rolled by with Jared, I realized what it meant.
You do just know.
I can list endless reasons why I fell in love with Jared – we had instant chemistry. We both love to travel. He learned American Sign Language so he can communicate with my parents. He makes me laugh. He makes me think.
I won’t get too sappy on you here, but at the end of the day, I just knew. He was the mythical ‘One’ for me.
So last Friday afternoon, when he pulled a diamond ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him, I said yes.
If you read the blog often, you know that we’re in the midst of an epic family vacation – my parents, his parents, my sisters, and one boyfriend. We spent six days in Oahu, where we stayed in Hau’ula, a tiny town within driving distance of the North Shore.
Even though I vowed to give up the guide book, I’m not ready to part with it totally. I read up on La’ie Point, a lookout near our rental house that is the site of a Hawaiian legend.
We stopped there on Thursday to check it out.
It was pretty beautiful and scenic, so when Jared suggested we stop there again the next day, I didn’t think much of it. I’d already had an excellent day – standing up in the surf and eating a delicious chocolate cream pie from Ted’s bakery. As far as I was concerned, the day couldn’t get any better.
In fact, I spent the first several minutes spouting off my guidebook knowledge of the legend of the lizard.
“So this point apparently looks like a giant lizard, and it started eating the people,” I explained. “The king and his son killed it to protect the queen, and they hacked off its head, cut it into five pieces, and tossed it into the ocean. Those five islands are thought to be the five pieces of its head.”
I am so romantic.
We were sitting side-by-side in a little cove created by the rock, and I noticed that Jared was waiting patiently for me to finish. Finally, I stopped talking about bludgeoned lizards.
“Do you remember a conversation we had when we first met,” he asked, “about how when you know, you know?”
“Yes,” I said. “Why?” What did this have to do with lizards?
“Well,” he said, pulling a little box out of his pocket, “I know that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”
I cried a little.
And said yes.
The next challenge was corralling our families together so we could make the announcement.
Jared had asked my father for his blessing that morning, when they were playing golf together.
“I can’t play golf after this,” my dad told him. “I have too many questions.”
When we told my family to meet us & Jared’s parents at the beach in Hale’iwa right around sunset, my dad thought for sure that the proposal was going to happen there.
“I wondered why he was driving so fast,” my mother told me later.
“I didn’t want to miss it,” he said.
Disappointed when he pulled into the car park and saw nothing happening, my dad turned off the motor and parked the car.
As predicted, everyone started taking photos of the sunset while I anxiously fingered the ring in my pocket. Finally, all five of the ‘kids’ were lined up as the parents took pictures.
“I’m going to put it on,” I said to Jared. He nodded.
I had to wave my hand around for a while, but they finally got it. Our dads seemed relieved – they were the only two who knew Jared was going to propose, and now they could finally talk about it.
Our mothers were shocked and excited, and Alex, Megan & Kate were confused, thinking I’d been wearing the ring the whole time and wondering how the heck they missed it.
Of course, the questions started trickling in after that, like where we’d get married (Australia or America?), and when, but I think my Uncle Bob in Illinois asked the best one:
“Question is: How will you two define “settling down”?
I think we’ll find a way to re-define it.