Today is my 8th wedding anniversary. I love telling people about how my husband and I met because it’s so completely unexpected.
For one, it’s a travel romance that actually worked out.
For another, we met in Nicaragua, a most unlikely of places.
But mainly, it makes a good story, I think, because of how close we were to being just two ships that passed in the night.
Our paths cross
I was living in New York at the time and about three months into a backpacking trip through Central America. My German husband was similarly backpacking; he had begun in the U.S., passed through Mexico, and was headed for Costa Rica when fate placed us in Nicaragua at the same time.
Specifically, we were on Isla de Ometepe, a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua, and we were both staying at a guesthouse called Finca Magdalena.
Love at first sight?
I saw my future husband at the finca and found myself attracted to him. I was secretly delighted when he joined me and the group gathered on the finca’s terrace for a typical backpackers’ evening of socializing, drinking and card games.
But it was not a typical evening. At least not to me. As the rum and jokes flowed, I found myself dazzled by my husband’s smiles as we made jokes across the table; more than a few times I had to look away when his eye contact got too intense.
When the rum dried up and the night wound to a close, we ended up chatting for another two hours after everyone else had gone to bed.
A change of plans (or two or three)
The next day, unbeknownst to one another, we changed our travel plans so we would be leaving the finca at the same time; as it turned out, later than our friends from the previous evening and too late to catch the ferry off the island that night.
After spending that next day together, I was even more convinced that he was someone special. So you can image how I felt the day after, sitting in that boat heading off the island: After we got off the boat, he would go south, I would go north; we had no more excuses not to head our separate ways. Is this it, I wondered?
It suddenly occurred to me that my itinerary was not fixed. Yes, I had just come from the south Nicaraguan coast where he was headed next. Yet, who’s to say I couldn’t go back there again? I felt the potential romance was worth pursing.
I turned the idea over and over in my head. Dare I suggest it? What if he said “no”? What if he was thinking “no”, but was too nice to say “no”? I was a bundle of nerves as the boat got closer and closer to shore. Finally, I told myself I had nothing to lose. We would be going our separate ways anyway. But what if …
He said “yes” and I threw the rest of my travel plans out the window. So did he, letting his flight back to Munich go in order to extend his trip and join me on my flight to L.A. so we could spend a couple of weeks visiting my family and friends in California. After California we finally went our separate ways, he to begin a Ph.D. program in Munich, me to go back to New York to work for the summer and save up money.
So that I could join him in Munich come fall. The rest is history.
Taking a chance on love
If either of us had been less flexible, we wouldn’t have gotten far.
If I had been too scared to take the risk on the boat and let myself be vulnerable, things might have been different (my husband said he probably would have said something).
If either of us had started to question where this was going to go, I don’t think we’d be together, considering that neither of us were interested in a long-distance relationship.
If I had thought about what the hell I would do in Munich, not knowing a word of German, the relationship would have died an early death.
I believe fate definitely had something to do with throwing us together, but just putting us in the same place at the same time wouldn’t have been enough.
It took each us of getting outside of our comfort zones, getting out of our heads, and seizing an opportunity with no idea where it would lead and no guarantees that anything would come of it.
And turning it into something beautiful and lasting — we have 12 years of memories together and two little amazing beings to prove it.
Happy Anniversary, Honey!