There are a few seemingly random choices in life that change the course of the future quite dramatically. I made one of them at the beginning of this year at a cool backpacker's hostel in La Paz, Bolivia, while playing an Israeli card game with some other travelers. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed this warm, smiling face at the far side of the table. I could've easily ignored it but instead I made my choice and made an open invitation to join us. A few months ago I got down on one knee at a small French restaurant in Montreal and asked my beautiful Kyle with her still warm, grinning face to marry me.
Getting engaged was not on my list of things to do when I left for my round the world trip (well, at least not consciously), but I do remember promising myself to be open to whatever the universe sends my way. I guess this is the beauty of a long trip. You always know how it starts but not how it ends.
After our meeting in Bolivia, Kyle and I kept in touch. She went east to help Bolivian kids and I went west to help with recent mudslides in Peru. We made no plans but I knew I wanted to see her again, so when she decided to leave Bolivia I jumped on the opportunity with both hands and invited Kyle to join me in Peru and then trek together to Machu Picchu. We've been together since then.
The location and the way we met meant that we didn't go through the traditional dating process where couples see each other for a few hours a week. We spent 24 hours a day, traveling and living together. After our Peruvian mountain adventure, Kyle and I headed north to the peaceful surfing beach of Mancora. We found a quiet place on the beach with the Pacific Ocean at our doorstep. You slide the big glass door and have nothing but golden sand and blue ocean. We surfed, played, and shared dreams, something that felt more as a honeymoon than a starting relationship.
The universe had conspired for us to meet again in the US. Long before I met Kyle, I registered myself to a volunteering program in the beautiful Berkshires, which miraculously turned out to be a short drive from Kyle's place in Rhode Island. Spending those magical weekends and then living together in Providence allowed us to draw closer and closer so when the time for me to leave for Canada arrived, I already knew I wanted to spend my life with this special woman.
I remember calling my mom the night before our trip to Montreal, which supposed to be our last weekend together before I started to move independently again, and asking about proposals and rings. I didn't know much about this stuff and I have to admit I still didn't know much after (or may I say, I chose not to know much), so I decided just to go with how I felt in the moment.
It was a beautiful warm night in Montreal and Kyle was murmuring to herself in French while we walked hand in hand through the city. It was a perfect setup and the French just set a romantic tone for the night. We both had no idea where we were walking but we didn't need to. The night flowed naturally, one moment following the other. We stopped at a little restaurant for dinner and I went to buy us wine. I borrowed a pen from the cashier and wrote on both sides of a little napkin, "will you marry me honeychuk?" An hour later our waiter arrived with a chocolate dessert and my small napkin in his hands. He put them both on the table and the rest is history.
Live your dreams!