My mother’s biggest fear was me meeting someone far away and never coming back.
So when I went abroad for 5 months, I did.
Well, at least half of it.
Early on in my semester studying abroad, I decided that I wanted to stay an extra month in Costa Rica after everyone from my program had left. I wasn’t exactly sure why–but I felt compelled. I lived with a woman named Cecilia, with whom I became very close. When the last month came, I was excited to be on my own, and farther outside my comfort zone. Gone were the American friend crutches; it was going to be my Tico month, 100% in Spanish, 100% immersed.
The first extra day I spent after everyone left, that bubble popped. Cecilia’s best friend, Rocio, came over for dinner with her new host student for the summer. His name was Kevin, and he had a bright orange Illinois shirt on and couldn’t have looked more gringo. They stayed for dinner, and afterwards Kevin and I chatted about different places to go in Costa Rica. I didn’t think much of it, and was happy to go back to my Tico time.
Though I was resistant, Kevin managed to convince me to hang out with him a couple more times. I guess I can say now I’m grateful for that. He was cute. He was passionate about a lot of things many people are not passionate about (like, for instance, plants), and was determined to make a difference in the world. Though I was resistant to hanging with Americans in that last month, he got my attention. After a night of what was finally, clearly a date, I remember coming back to my host mom’s house and spilling all my excited emotions about him to her.
She told me that she wanted to come to our wedding.
And 4 years later…she was right. I left Costa Rica in June, and Kevin came back from adventures in August. We kept in touch through the summer and reunited on campus in August, and we were together from then on. We would call Cecilia and Rocio every once in a while to catch up and confirm that yes, your matchmaking is still holding strong.
A few years later, Kevin surprised me with a trip to Costa Rica in order to propose to me on the porch of Cecilia’s house where we met. Cecilia and Rocio were both present, with Rocio genuflecting feverishly behind Kevin as he said a lot of nice things to me before asking me to marry him.
Kevin and I used to joke that we could never break up because we would never top that how-we-met story. My mom got over it, and I’m pretty sure we are legendary in host moms’ history-of-host-student books. We still keep in touch with them, and love to go down and visit when we can.
Given how we met, it’s no coincidence that we both share a passion for challenging cultural assumptions and learning about new places. Not going to lie, but the best part of meeting someone while doing what you love is that they love to do what you love, too. #travelbuddies Traveling is something that continually changes my life and the way I look at the world, and I am so grateful to have someone who’s into that kind of thing, too.