You can say Tom and I both have similar back stories before arriving to this moment. I was born in Vietnam and Tom was born in the Philippines.
I moved to the United States in 2001 and went to college at VCU in Richmond, VA. Tom moved to the United States in 2006 and went to college at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. We never crossed paths during college even though Tom would sometimes visit VCU with his friends.
As we began our individual careers, we both found our way to Southern California. We met through our only mutual friend Ashley Oller who visited me in September 2015. She invited Tom and I for dim sum at Bao Dim Sum House – if you knew anything about us, you would know we would never turn down an invitation to eat – (and ever since, we have made it a tradition to eat there on the same date every year) While waiting to be seated for dinner, Tom and I got to talking, I mentioned moving to California by myself just a few months prior. He offered to be my tour guide and show me around since he lives nearby. From what his memory recalls, I ignored his offer. Like any love story, I played hard to get (unintentionally). Throughout that weekend with Ashley being in town, we all hung out, ate some more, rode bikes on the beach, etc. Tom and I soon discovered we both love to eat!
This is where the friendship really began, we made endless plans to hang out! The very first was at the LA County Fair where we spent way too much money to win a small stuffed animal. After the fair, we hiked three hours up to Griffith Observatory from my studio apartment to see the Blood Moon. I kept telling him I knew the way to Griffith Park, and he knew all along I was wrong but he was too nice to tell me so. We got to the observatory and squeezed ourselves into a large crowd who also had the same idea. We did not realize that LA and clear night skies aren’t a thing. No blood moon for us, just low hanging smog across the Los Angeles skyline. But during those three hours of hiking and sky watching, we were able to talk and get to know each other better.
As we grew closer, we went on more wonderful adventures together like driving to San Diego to meet his closest friends and then to San Francisco because I’ve always wanted to see the “Full House” house and walk on the Golden Gate bridge. Our first flight together was to Vegas to celebrate our friends’ birthdays. At another time, Tom took me to what I thought was a wine tour at 5am in Temecula. Turned out it was a hot air balloon ride for my 25th birthday. Our first Halloween together was going to the biggest block parade in West Hollywood. For our first Christmas, he somehow convinced me to visit a tree farm and cut down my first real Christmas tree. Not sure what we were thinking, but the tree was about six feet tall, way too big to fit in my 475 sq ft studio apt! But Izzy (our cat) sure loved taking naps underneath it everyday. We were able to create beautiful memories early on. He also drove from Thousand Oaks to Los Angeles (an hour drive or more) almost every day to spend time with me and to bring me all kinds of food. He knew that as long as I am full, I will always love him.
Fast forward four years later, Tom and I bought a condo together with our cat Izzy. Throughout all these years, we’ve made it a goal to travel and eat lots of delicious food. Here are some few adventures we’ve done together:
- Hiking in Sequoia for our 1st anniversary
- Back and forth trips to the east coast to visit our families and friends
- Boston with our families so they all can meet
- Ojai, CA and France for my 26th and 27th birthday
- Portland and Santa Barbara for Tom’s 29th and 30th birthday
- Watched Leon Bridges and Coldplay in concert
- Plenty of Disneyland trips
- Participated in a Triathlon and Mud Run
- Went down a 45ft glass slide 1000 ft above Downtown LA
I cannot wait for our upcoming trip to Vietnam in a few days and the Philippines in December! Adventuring has become a big part of our relationship. But as important as traveling and making new memories, we also appreciate and embrace the mundane; even when it is just going to the gym, monthly Costco trips, cooking meals together, napping with Izzy, binging on shows, or doing photoshoots. We have our fair share of ups and downs, but through it all, Tom and I have learned that our relationship will only work if we have respect, trust, and have honest conversations about our relationship and where it is going.
We both knew that we wanted to get engaged, get married, and have kids one day. Just didn’t know when exactly all of this would take place. However, that didn’t stop us from browsing engagement rings. To be honest, it was a fun adventure learning about diamonds and gemstones. I wanted something vintage that would remind me of my mom’s and grandma’s jewelries, and a diamond to me is overrated. I thought I wanted a vintage setting until I tried it on my tiny finger (2.25). Tom on the other hand appreciates the beauty in simplicity. We saw an emerald halo ring with a nice, clean band. It complemented my tiny hands. That was about all that I contributed to this engagement process and let Tom handle the rest when he was ready to ask the big question. Tom purchased the ring in May and was planning to propose in Aug when we travel to Vietnam to visit my family. Tom was still scheming for the perfect moment to propose in Vietnam.
On a random Sunday night earlier this month, we were having a conversation about marriage and our relationship just to check in with each other. It got late and we decided to postpone the conversation to get ready for bed. I went to the bathroom while Tom was still out in the living room shuffling through things, I thought he was giving Izzy some treats. Turned out, Tom decided to make a spontaneous proposal because the moment felt perfect to him. I came out to the living room and saw Tom cradling Izzy with a shiny red box on Izzy’s fluffy belly. I was so confused, hysterical, and emotional all at the same time that I almost just left the room. Tom kept telling me to open the box and I kept saying no. He kneeled on one knee with Izzy still in his arms and proposed. We were both in the living room crying and laughing at each other in our underwear and t-shirts. I felt so ugly because I had whitening strips on my teeth and laughed at how silly I looked at this special moment. However, it was such an intimate moment in our first home with our family of three. Tom will never let me forget how I ugly cried that night but I wouldn’t have it any other way.