Ten years ago, I met the love of my life. But I didn’t know it until about a few months ago.
Failed relationship after failed relationship, I began to lose hope. I always said that I believed in fate, but I don’t think I’ve truly believed until now. So non-believers, read on…
How did we get here? One decade later, in our own apartment, across the country from where we grew up, and now engaged? I try to picture my life without him but I don’t want to. Ever.
What does our future together look like? I don’t even know, but what I do know is that we want to be together and that is the only thing that matters.
This is our story.
It had only been a few months since my breakup with my last long term boyfriend, who made me so angry with life that I had plans to move across the country to Portland, Oregon. I was ready to start a new chapter of my life, make new friends, get my own apartment, and just be happy. My last few months in New York City were supposed to be about tying loose ends. Not for one second did I think about dating anyone new. My heart was torn and I was ready to be single for a while.
That all changed on an early morning in May on my subway ride to the dermatologist (of all places!) No makeup on, wearing leggings and an old t-shirt with my sunglasses on and headphones in, I got on the subway trying to avoid eye contact with anyone and everyone.
It was way too early for me to want to socialize. Then all of the sudden I got a text from a random number: “So you’re not gonna say hi?” My initial thought was “Oh my God, stranger danger!” I almost ran for the door and into another subway car, but for some reason my intuition told me to stay and to answer this text. So I replied.
“Who is this?”
I did. I didn’t see anyone.
“Look up and to the right.”
Now, confused as ever (and a little bit irritated) I texted “I don’t see you” and when I looked up again, there he was. My on and off boyfriend whom I dated through all of high school and my first year of college.
What happened after I saw him must have been written in the stars because I still can’t explain it. I motioned for him to come over and talk to me and he did. We hadn’t seen each other in five years so we had quite a bit of catching up to do.
I remember feeling some sort of relief talking to him. Regardless of how we ended things, he was a huge part of my life. As I got off at my stop, I thought to myself : wouldn’t it be so funny if he asked me out?
Within five minutes of that thought, he texted me asking what I was doing the following night. My heart began to beat faster and faster as I read the text and I did what anyone would do in my situation: I called my mom. (Mothers and their sixth sense: they are always right.)
“Mom! Mom! You’ll never guess who I ran into and just asked me out.”
“Quien, hija? Who, my daughter?”
“Martin, mom! Martin! Isn’t that funny? I’m totally not gonna go out with him though.”
And then my mother said something that still shocks me to this day and changed my life forever.
“Why not? You should go! Have a coffee with him! You’re moving anyway, what’s the worst that could happen?”
Yeah! I thought. I’m moving anyway. What’s the worst that could happen?
Still, out of some kind of fear that this would somehow derail my plans of moving and living the single life, I tried to put off going out with him, but he certainly didn’t make it easy. He picked me up and drove me home from work every day.
When I worked 7 a.m. brunch shifts, he would have an iced coffee ready for me and when I was hungry at 2 a.m. after a long shift he would buy me late night dinners and never did he ask for anything in return.
A week or so later, we went on an official “first date” (fourth first date, really) and from that point on we were inseparable. My friends became his friends, we went on amazing spontaneous day trips to Philly, vacationed in Atlantic City, took late night drives to get ice cream in Brooklyn. He made my last few months in NYC unforgettable.
He was everything that I wanted in a boyfriend and more. I was really happy, but even so I was mentally and emotionally prepared to leave him and everything else behind. I had worked too hard to let anyone stop me from moving. He knew this, but I also think that he knew what would happen once I got to Portland.
Within a few days of moving to Portland, I was already missing him. And I knew I didn’t just miss his company…I missed him. I wasn’t just lonely because I knew that I could go out and date other guys. But the truth that took me a while to realize is that I didn’t want to meet other guys. I wanted Martin to be here in Portland with me. As soon as I called and told him that, the next day he had a plane ticket to come see me.
He stayed with me for a week and confirmed what I think we both knew to be true. We were perfect for each other and had to be together, no matter what. As he was waiting for his Uber to the airport he turned to me and said, “So, are you my girlfriend now?” Half jokingly I responded “Are you moving here?”
He looks at me with the most genuine look of sincerity and said “Yes. Yes, I like Portland and I don’t want to lose you again.” It was as if the moment he said those words my shattered heart was sewn back together and none of the heartbreak I’ve had to go through mattered anymore. This was it for me.
He was never going to let me go again. I had found my one. I couldn’t believe it.
After three months of long distance, I flew back to New York City and we drove across the country with all of his belongings and quickly moved into a beautiful apartment together.
Since then we’ve experienced all sorts of adulting we were not expecting. We’ve been broke, I was handicapped for five months, all the while settling into a new city, 3000 miles away from home where we barely knew anyone.
But none of that mattered to us. We were finally together, enjoying life as best as we could. We found a new home in each other and felt lucky. A few months ago as I began to write this story, I had a thought: I want to marry this guy.
I don’t care about a big fancy wedding or a ring. I just want to have him with me forever. So as soon as I was able to, I did something about it; I went to the jewelry store and bought an engagement ring. I told only my best friends and I didn’t really have a plan as to how I was going to pop the question. I googled it a bunch and after thousands of ideas ran through my head, I thought: I will know when it’s the right time, I’ll feel it.
For a few days I kept calm. Simply knowing that I had the ring made me feel better. Then it happened. On a random late night after he had gotten home from work, we were watching television in our underwear and I said that we needed to talk. I told him that I loved him and that he was the most amazing man I had ever met but that I wasn’t happy with the way things were. (Ouch, I know.)
“I don’t want to be your girlfriend anymore.” I paused, looked up at his incredibly worried face, pulled out my ring box and said, “Will you marry me?”
After a few seconds of shock, questioning if this was real life and a lot of tears (on my end), hugging and kissing, he says “Yes. Yes, of course I’ll marry you!”
It was at that moment that I felt the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life.
I still wake up every morning, think about our story and question how the hell I got so lucky. Though it’s only been a year since we’ve reconnected, I have never felt so comfortable, supported, safe and loved.
This isn’t the end of our story, it has really only just begun. I cannot wait to see who we’ll become, where we’ll go. We didn’t realize it then, but we found one another again when we needed each other most. Though my plans changed, they changed for the better and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you are meant to be with someone, they will come back to you. It’s easy to lose hope but the important thing is to not close yourself off to finding your person. Love will find you even if you try to push it away. The key, is to let it in once it does. What’s the worst that could happen?
To be continued…
Author: Ashley Kervabon
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Photo: Sarah Zucca/Flickr