Ryan and Maria
How We Met
I took a job overseas in Bogota, Colombia and several months into the new job, my best friend (Carl) applied and was accepted for a position there as well. I traveled back home to the states for the Christmas holidays, but Carl stayed in Colombia. One night Carl went out with another coworker for dinner and drinks, and was seated next to a couple of local Colombian women. One of these Colombian women spilled her drink, which then caught Carl’s attention and he gave her a puzzled look, along with asking her if everything was ok. Long story short, this created a friendship between a couple of expatriates and local Colombians. Carl told me once I get back to Colombia from my holiday vacation, he wanted to introduce me to someone. Once I returned, Carl introduced me to a beautiful and amazing lady named Maria Lombana, we hit it off immediately, and have been inseparable ever since. I thank God that she was a little clumsy the night she met Carl, because had she not spilled her drink, we may have never met.
How He Asked
Maria and I were traveling from Colombia to the U.S. for the holidays this year and we made a stop in D.C. since my best friend Carl had recently returned from deployment. Maria and I had been to D.C. before and visited several monuments, museums and sites at that time, but I wanted the proposal to take place somewhere special in D.C. were we both had never been, and the National Arboretum made perfect sense. I also wanted to photograph and video the proposal, but I needed a legitimate excuse for having a photographer and videographer tag along so they wouldn’t have to sneak around or hide. Well, Carl so happens to do a little photography, so he and I came up with this little “lie” to tell Maria. I told her that Carl wanted to update his website with new photos and since we were in town, he wanted to photograph us at the National Arboretum.
Along with that, Carl put me in contact with a good friend of his named Jarell who is a videographer, and we told Maria that Jarell would be there as well, assisting Carl to create a video for his website. Carl and Jarell scouted the National Arboretum the day prior to the proposal to develop a game plan. The next day, we all headed to the National Arboretum for what Maria thought was just your typical “photo shoot”, but little did she know that it was all a ploy. We hit a few spots within the park to keep the “photo shoot” ploy alive, we made our way to the Capitol Columns, I could tell Maria was ready to wrap things up because it was quite cold, but I reassured her we were almost done and we had just one more “pose”. Carl then positioned us in front of the columns, facing each other for the next “photo”, and that was my signal to take over and do my “thing”.
Ever since I started planning the proposal and figuring out exactly what I wanted to say to her, I came up with a speech I ran through my head day-after-day, night-after-night leading up to the day of the proposal. When it came time for my speech, I got completely choked up, tears started welling up in my eyes, it’s like my mind went blank, and I completely forgot the speech I had ran through my head over and over. However, there was one thing that wouldn’t be forgotten and would be asked if it was my last breath and that was “Maria Claudia Lombana Morales, will you spend forever with me?”
It was by far the scariest, yet most amazing and exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I have the greatest and most talented friends who helped bring it all together and document it.
Side notes… The U.S. National Arboretum is located on New York Avenue in D.C. Maria LOVES New York City, but I had no idea at the time the Arboretum was located on that street. Even more ironic, I proposed on December 17, 2017, which would have been my grandparents 67th wedding anniversary. Again, I had no idea at the time that it was my grandparents anniversary. Call it coincidence, fate, destiny or whatever you want; all I know is, God brought us together and we were meant to be.