December 24, 2015. This was no ordinary morning. The usual cold wintery Christmas Eve was replaced by the warm and sun-kissed Cabo at our family’s vacation villa. Still half-awake, I sluggishly dragged myself out of bed to use the restroom. Instead of slumping back into bed, the rays of light beaming through the curtains drew my curiosity forward. As soon as I opened it and stepped outside, my eyes widened with absolute awe. “This is so surreal,” I repeated over and over as a I captured the sunrise. I almost thought I was dreaming, until David woke up to join me too. Who knew that by the end of this day, I would have a ring on my finger and someone to call fiancé. (Well, everyone else in the family knew….except for me.)
This day got better and better as it progressed. We had two back-to-back brunches with gorgeous views of the beach, rode in golf carts around the resort, and hopped onto the bus to Downtown Cabo. When we passed by the fish pedicure station, David nudged me to do it. So did my sister. I think having fishies eat my dead skin was more for their own entertainment than anything. I’m not even sure what bravery came over me, but my feet were notably softer afterwards. This adventurous afternoon continued with bargaining battles for souvenirs and came to a delightful close with guava popsicles, fresh watermelon margaritas and the most authentic out-of-the-world tacos.
So at this point, the day was already “done” in my head – it was perfect. I took a nap before getting ready for dinner at 8. We all decided to save our formal attire and go more casual this evening. (Our concierge suggested that we should dress fancier to the upscale dinner on Christmas Day instead.) My mom kept asking me what I was planning to wear and apparently hinted I should put on my red dress anyways; I was so oblivious. At dinner, we of course took full advantage of our all-inclusive meal plan and ordered wine, cocktails and shots to pair. I didn’t pay attention or even notice when my mom told David in Vietnamese, “Don’t drink so much, you have something to do later.” While his heart probably sank a little, I was too busy (and happily) focusing on my food. I wouldn’t have understood those phrases anyways.
“Jess, come here…” When we got back to our villa, my mom immediately pulled me into her room. First, she walked me to the closet and gave me a dress she bought awhile ago. That didn’t take long. Then, she busted out her phone and asked me to fix her wifi/data setting for internet. Now imagine my eye-rolling face. Didn’t we just set that up earlier?! So right when I was about to see what was wrong with her phone, David came upstairs and took my hand. “I have to show you something,” he insisted. “Huh? What?! But I have to fix my mom’s phone…” I murmured as he pulled me down the stairs.
“It’s so pretty!” I exclaimed. This was what I saw once we got downstairs. Somehow, it still didn’t hit me. At first glance, I thought that the hotel folks did a nice job. Did we tell them it was our anniversary to get freebies or something? Then I looked closer, and saw the heart lantern bags. Wait a minute, did my sister make these? These bags had different cutouts, but were similar to the ones that were used for my Disney/Tangled themed birthday party.
David guided me to step in the middle of the heart. Then I saw him take out the ring box from his pocket. OKAY, NOW IT’S REALLY HAPPENING! My heart raced uncontrollably. I was still in shock and disbelief. “What?!” Everything happened so fast. It was all overwhelming to process. There’s David in front of me and then my family on the side with a bunch of cameras flashing. They were the ultimate tourists/cheerleader squad. I laughed so hard watching the video afterwards hearing my dad scream “Take a picture!” and my mom’s variety of “awwwww” sound effects.
Despite everything that was going on, the only thing I most clearly remember was his eyes. His eyes were watery when he held my hands, looked at me and said, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” If he didn’t say anything, I still would have understood how deep his love is for me. It was raw, genuine and so real. I guess that’s the meaning behind the expression: eyes are the window to the soul. This intimate moment between the two of us, something only I was able to see, has been permanently etched in my memory.
Here’s the video:
I always thought I would have an ugly cry face on (with smeared eyeliner and nonstop sniffles) when it came time for my engagement. It doesn’t take much for all those other proposal movies/YouTube videos to get me teary. But when it actually happened, I had the opposite reaction. I couldn’t stop SMILING and giggling!!! I’m glad my family was there. The reactions from my bridemaids-to-be when I video-called them were also priceless. Despite being in states and countries apart, it was an ecstatic moment we all celebrated together. I felt layers and layers of pouring love.
After the initial excitement dwindled, the two of us took a night swim and started slow dancing in the pool. I finally broke down in tears of pure joy holding onto the man I’m going to spend forever with. Being engaged feels somewhat normal but so indescribable at the same time. Quite long ago, we have committed ourselves to each other as if we were already married. Now, this only makes everything more “official.” It took me hours to fall asleep because I kept replaying what just happened over and over in my head. I woke up to the sweetest “Good morning fiancée” and another breathtaking sunrise.
It still blows my mind to think of all those times we passed by each other in high school, but never officially “met” until after college. And when we did finally meet, the connection between us was so strong that we naturally gravitated towards each other and opened our vulnerable hearts. Back when we started our long-distance relationship, we each had a blog (filled with notes, music, pictures, surprises) designated for the other to read. This is something David wrote in the earliest stage on April 13, 2011. Still gives me goosebumps…
Every challenge and milestone during the last five years, we grew together. We are both sentimental people and care about the meaning behind shared experiences and “things.” The first night that I moved back to San Jose, he surprised me with a pink crystal heart-butterfly necklace. Last year, when he asked me to move to Idaho with him, he surprised me with a beautiful and “more mature” heart-flower-butterfly necklace. Now, as we are entering another chapter, I can’t help but see that the rose-shaped diamond ring is a collective symbol from the previous pieces of jewelry – the love, promises, growth and hope continue to shimmer and radiate.
“So when is the wedding?” That’s probably the most common question asked after “How did it happen?” I’m excited to say that we do have a date (and even venue) set. Last week, I was stuck on figuring out how and when are we going to make this wedding happen, without pushing aside our other big goal of purchasing a house. We envisioned what we want, talked about steps to get there, created a budget, and outlined a plan to turn our dreams into reality! We’re going to give ourselves plenty of time. Phew, now that the hard part of decision-making is over, I’m back to enjoying the newly-engaged life as the future Mrs. Ly :).
P.S. The year prior to our engagement, in December 2014, David caught me off guard and had personalized Mr. & Mrs. Disney sweaters made for us. He teased me and asked when I think he’s going to propose. I didn’t think too much of it. Now, I can almost legitimately wear this sweater and live happily ever after with the love of my life.