How we met
Ross and I met in Ghana. I was on a study abroad program and Ross founded a microfinance organization there. While we had met once before, we really only connected less than a week before I left. It was the start of a long, long-distance courtship. Ross and I love to travel, eat, and do outdoor sports. We spent the first several years of our relationship apart and would meet periodically either where we were or for adventures. We are definitely happiest when we are outside surfing, snowboarding or hiking.
How he proposed
According to Keralan culture, the groom is to ask permission to marry from the maternal uncle of the bride. So with this in mind, on a trip to Singapore to see my family, Ross took my uncles, and brother out on a date and received their blessings. A few months later, he insisted I finish my PADI course and planned a weekend in Gili Trawangan for a night dive. I was pretty nervous since I had just completed my certification in the morning and I was going on an advanced dive in the evening. As we reached our safety stop, our guide motioned to complete our ascent, and then she grabbed my belt.
I was really nervous that I had already made a mistake but then in the pitch-black, she pointed her flashlight to Ross who was holding a sign that read, ‘Will you marry me?’ and had little boxes next to ‘yes’ and ‘no’. In the world of diving, thumbs up mean to go up, so I gave him the ‘OK’ sign… I really didn’t know what else to do since I couldn’t speak! It was seriously the longest minute to ascend those last few meters, and once we surfaced we were just bobbing about in the sea, so I couldn’t even kiss him properly. Ross is a terrible planner, so it was definitely his best work yet. I never expected such an elaborate proposal.
The engagement ring
At the time he proposed, he had a dummy ring which he put on me underwater. The ring that Ross gave me, a family heirloom from the 1920s, was waiting on the boat with a bottle of champagne. It was his great grandmother’s wedding ring. I’m a little superstitious and his great grandparents had a very happy marriage, so I feel like we’re blessed by them in a way. I also am really torn about wearing precious stones, so I’m glad that the ring I was presented with was vintage. I also love that it’s in the original setting. I need to thank my best friend for that because Ross consulted about getting the stone re-set and she told him to keep it as it is.
What marriage means to us
Both of us come from families that have experienced divorce. For me, my commitment to him has little to do with marriage and a lot to do with how awesome I think he is, and more importantly how much I respect him. There is a wonderful analogy that Paulo Coehlo made in his book, ‘The Zahir’, about relationships being bound by arbitrary rules, like train tracks and the distance between the train’s wheels. I have always hoped that I find someone with whom I could grow flexibly; so, we are not bound by some particular distance. I think this flexibility to accept who Ross is, and for him to accept where I am, is really what I value most. I feel free to be whomever I want, and want Ross to feel like he has that freedom too.