Heral and Raj
How We Met
Raj and I have known each other for more than a decade. Our story begins at Herricks High School in Long Island, which we attended together for three years. However, in part, because he was one grade above me, we were just distant friends at the time. Once we went our separate ways for college, I thought I would never see him again.
Fast forward two years: I was a sophomore at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and he a junior at New York University. In 2014, I moved into an apartment with two friends who attended NYU. By chance, one of them invited me to his apartment-warming party. After three years, it was that night that I ran into Raj again! I was so happy to see a familiar face from high school and to reconnect. At the time, however, he was dating someone else—and so I didn’t push my luck with him.
We didn’t see each other over the next few months, and I left to study abroad in Florence the following spring. Once again, I lost touch with Raj. But when I got back to New York and made dinner plans with my former roommate, she told me Raj would be joining us. I didn’t connect the dots or even think it was the same Raj. NYU is filled with people named Raj!
To my surprise, it was Raj from high school! After hanging out, I told my friend that I found him really cute, and (much to my excitement) she told me he was single. We started hanging out and talking more, but because he was busy studying for his LSAT, he gradually distanced himself. Thinking he wasn’t interested in me, I stopped reaching out too.
Yet again, destiny brought us back together. After a few months, I went to a friend’s birthday, knowing he would be there. Unfortunately, I left the party early and didn’t have time say bye, but soon after got a text from him officially asking if he could take me out on a date. I was thrilled. Knowing how much I missed Italy, he took me to an amazing Italian restaurant in the city. Neither of us touched our phones or even left a moment of silence. We ended up staying at the restaurant for three hours—so long that they eventually had to ask us to leave. I genuinely loved talking to him. Over the next few months, we would spend hours upon hours talking, texting, having deep and funny conversations, staying up until we forced one another to go to sleep. At that point, I knew I would marry him one day.
How He Asked
Every Valentine’s Day, Raj makes me a scrapbook showcasing our memories from the past year. Because he was too busy with law school to give me one in 2017, though, I got two this year! As we went through them and reminisced, Raj confided in me that he was worried about being unable to complete next year’s scrapbook on time. He then told me that he already started gathering the supplies to make it—and asked if I wanted to see his progress so far. As I flipped through the pages, I saw stickers relating to some events we had planned for the upcoming year: a vacation after his bar exam, a family friend’s wedding, and his graduation. But as I neared the end, the pages revealed stickers showcasing various cities in Italy, wine, and pasta. At first, I thought these were simply about our later trip. But, Raj stopped me right there and told me to look again at the stickers because… SURPRISE! We were leaving for Italy on Friday! I was super confused because we had planned a two-day local getaway for the weekend. In fact, there was no such trip—Raj had faked the tickets and Airbnb reservation. He even arranged with my boss for me to take the whole week off! That was when the tears started forming. My time studying abroad in Florence made it my favorite city in the world, and it touched me that he thought to take me there—especially since I hadn’t been in four years.
We landed in Rome just five days after the scrapbook surprise and began exploring. After spending two days in the Eternal City, we traveled to Florence, where we stayed at the St. Regis Hotel close to the city’s historic center. Following two days of exploring the city, Raj told me to pack my bags—we were switching locations! We traveled to a beautiful boutique hotel, Villa Cora, hidden in the Tuscan hills. Raj told me I had to be ready by 5 PM for a private wine tour in Tuscany. After getting ready, we headed to the lobby, where we met a woman named Martina. She informed us that she was the wine tour guide. Because the chauffeur was running late, she said, we would have to spend some time in the waiting area. After a few minutes, she told us that the car had arrived, and ushered us through a door.
As she pulled open the door, I instantly heard a quartet playing “Clair de Lune” by Debussy and saw the bright flash of cameras. I looked to the right side of the room and saw a huge sign that read: “Heral, will you marry me?” I couldn’t help it—I broke down and instantly started crying. Raj came over, took my hand, and said, “before I ask you to this important question, I want to tell you seven reasons why.” He walked me through seven printed canvases set up around the room, each with a photo representing one of the reasons: my smile, my ability to bring out his inner child, my being an inspiration to him, my support for him, our travels together, how much fun we have together, and finally Ruby (our Pomeranian we adopted). Once he finished explaining the reasons, he brought me over to the sign, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.
Trying to control my tears, I said yes! I only wish I had time at that moment to tell him a hundred reasons why I wanted to marry him. Luckily, I have a lifetime to do that.