[ my fiancé's point of view]
It seems incredible that this journey has been about twelve years in the making, but looking back on it now, it couldn’t have gone any better. The playground flirting that started when we were fourteen years old was all but obvious to ourselves, and I have been a devout believer of the notion that she was way out of my league–yes, even when we were fourteen. She thinks it’s just her being shy and didn’t like that about herself, but her bashfulness coupled with her beauty told us that this was a radiance untainted. If guys could swoon, then she left countless pubescent boys in her wake as she passed them by in the hallways, wonderfully oblivious to her own charm.
It worked out perfectly that it took another eight to nine years for us to end up together because I had a lot to learn about relationships before finally being worthy of stewarding her. Surely, we could’ve dated, but I’m more than certain that it would’ve ended badly for both of us. We took our separate journeys to open our minds; she had to see the world and know that she could thrive in it; I had to feel the stinging weight of breaking hearts to move away from my egocentricity; and, also, we both had to know what love looked like when we saw it.
Knowing that we were going to get married was the easy part. Deciding when to do it was much more difficult. I felt a stress level and a pressure that I’ve never felt in my life before. I wanted to be financially stable, a bit more accomplished and respectable, and, mostly, I was waiting for some external sign. But then a slow dawning slowly unfolded inside me like a paper lantern would inflate as the fire warms it from inside, complete with a satisfying crinkling and an abashed glow. She was struggling; I was struggling; why don’t we just struggle together? Was I a performer, some entertainer, waiting for the stage to be set so that I could act for her? Or was this real life–real minutes and hours and days passing us by speedily, with their effable nights gone forever if we don’t catch them now?
And she was more than mine–I knew this. Her soul was bigger than her body, and an entire community needed to be committed to this. So I messaged some of our closest friends, about twenty of them, and all together, we prayed for two months. I kept them updated on the preparations; they were the first to approve of the ring. And when the moment came closer, they were the ones to advise me.
Finally, the day was ready. It was also her birthday weekend, the perfect surprise, as she would think I would be hoodwinking her for a party rather than a proposal. I spent a week perfecting her present: a longboard with the question “Will You Marry Me?” neatly spray painted on the bottom in black and white. The letters were fitted into a depiction of a vase, with a white rose to top it off: her name in Korean. On the day of, I glided to her near a bridge outside on her gift, presented the bottom, revealed the ring–the rest is a rush and a blur.
All I remember is a perfect kaleidoscope of leaves, tears, sighs–and: “Yes.”
[photos by Johnny Cheng]