Caressa and Jesse

How We Met

The first time Jesse and I had our first encounter was in a martial arts sparring class. We were in a rotation that eventually caused us to be sparring partners for the next 2 minutes. The first thing I noticed about him was his build- over 6 ft tall, broad shoulders, and long arms and legs that surely would hit me since I was a foot shorter and definitely more petite. We bowed and touched gloves as a sign of mutual respect. The alarm rang and we started dancing around one another, getting a “feel”, looking for an opening target. We made contact as I tried to get inside and his gloves punched by chest- boy did that send a shock through my body. He stopped, concerned, said sorry and asked if I was okay. I nodded as I walked in a circle and jumped up and down to shake it off. I thought to my competitive self “Nice hit. Now, I’m going to get you next.” We bowed again and started dancing. I waited as I dodged punches and kicks, eyeing the one target I knew would hurt. I made my way inside again as he lunged forward and my right kick made contact with his private parts. Although he was wearing a safety cup, he retreated and leaned forward like a shock went through his body. I walked over to make sure he was okay just as the bell rang. He looked at me and said with a smile, “You got me.” From then on, we continued to train together, fight each other, and eventually be inseparable.

How He Asked

Jesse and I have been dating 6 years by the time we were in Hawaii last summer, celebrating a family member’s 10 year anniversary. We were at Germaine’s Luau with nearly 400 people in attendance including about 30 people of our own family. At some point in the night, the luau has a raffle giving out prizes for 3rd and 2nd place, and the grand prize winner gets to go up on stage and be awarded in front of the entire audience. As I sat there listening to the host call out names, her grand prize winner name sounded familiar and totally like mine. Wait, OMG that’s me, I won! I jumped up and down in pure shock and genuine surprise that I pointed at a random person like it was an inside bet we made. They brought me up on stage and the host asked me questions about where I was from and the reason we were there. After a few minutes, she tells me my grand prize was straight ahead and to focus on the stage lights. They slowly begin to dim the lights and all I can think is, “I’m winning an extravagant trip, maybe another trip to a Hawaiian island, all inclusive trip.” The host steps away as I patiently wait and then I hear a deep voice come through the speakers, “Hey”. I turn to my side and there is Jesse. I was still completely oblivious and said to him, “What are you doing here?” when I really meant was “Why are you here, this is my grand prize”. Before I can fully comprehend, my family and the whole luau were cheering. Jesse recites his short, but incredibly thought out speech as I cover my mouth to hide my large smile. He drops down on one knee and the crowd explodes that I can barely hear him pop the question. I struggle to get the words out as the hostess puts the mic to me, but I’m able to say- “Of course I will.” The next couple minutes were a tearful blur- I felt the ring slipping onto my finger, the roar of the crowd cheering, and the warmth of his face to mine. It was an unforgettable experience- being engaged, being the ultimate grand prize winner.