I said yes.
Cristian is from Norway. I’m from the Philippines. We met and fell in love in Australia and when he finished his master’s program he had to leave, and I stayed behind in Canberra until I completed mine. I flew to him in Gothenburg, he flew to me in Manila. Our first few important milestones— birthdays, Valentines, Christmases— were spent apart, ever-reliant on Skype. It was difficult, but it was the kind of difficult that I knew we could overcome. The kind of difficult where you only needed to persevere, and not the difficult that is impossible. It was also easy. It felt right, being “us”, and no matter the distance, the time difference, and the cramped intercontinental flights, not once did I ever think that my life could have gone any other way.
We eventually resettled in Rome in September 2013 for the start of my PhD program. Cristian went first, to find us a place, and when I arrived we had the perfect little apartment. Now, we’re both happily nestled in Brussels, in a rare gem of an apartment that boasts an oven, a washing machine, a hammock, and a wall-sized map of Asia. Life has decided to bless us, at least flat-wise.
It has been almost five years, three continents, thousands of hours on Skype, and a million miles traveled between the two of us.
He proposed the only way he could have: right as I landed in Brussels, fresh from months of fieldwork in the Philippines, with the ring perched atop our dugong, surrounded by the animals we have adopted along the journey.
And of course, I said yes.