Lisa had once mentioned that if she got married, she would want to use her grandfather’s ring. So when I decided that after two years together (not to mention making the decision to leave our jobs and homes to travel the world for a year) I was ready to make a life commitment, I drove down to San Jose to talk to Lisa’s family and get the ring.
For the past two and half months, I’ve kept this ring clipped, zipped and duct-taped into the inside of my purse as we travel on the other side of the world. Knowing how much Lisa’s family means to her, I asked our good friends Krista and Gilda to make a video with messages from all of Lisa’s extended family at home. Once the video was ready, it was just a matter of figuring out the right time and place.
Lisa’s mom was born in the Philippines, so I decided that the Philippines would be the most meaningful place to her. However, I had one problem. My original plan was to propose to her by writing a song to her with my guitar, but I had no guitar and no clue how to procure one. We were already half way through our Philippines itinerary and I was about to give up my original songwriting plans when we ended up in Mactan, Cebu – an overrated tourist town that isn’t all that spectacular except for the one serendipitous fact that it is famous for producing and exporting guitars. So, I purchased a guitar and worked on my song any chance that I got out of earshot from Lisa.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t all that nervous once we sat down. It felt natural, like all the many other times we’ve sat down on beaches back in California together and I’ve strummed random songs while Lisa read a magazine (usually Oprah or People, what a girl!). Only this was the first time I had written a song for her, which included incredibly poetic Grammy-worthy lines like “you add the lime and salt to life’s margarita, you bring the salsa into my tortilla” and ended with a promise to “be by your side for the rest of my life” and the question “now’s my turn to ask, won’t you be my wife?”
After months of hearing that I wasn’t ready to get married (my attempt to throw her off track), Lisa was totally shocked when I pulled out her grandpa’s ring and asked her to marry me. She was so shocked that I had to sing the song twice in order to get her to say yes. Then, she told me that she too had been planning to propose to me and had gone so far as to get the ring. When we returned back to our hotel, Lisa got on one knee and proposed to me with her mother’s ring which is absolutely beautiful. Of course I said yes.
I’ve been holding the diamond ring in my backpack the past two months. Staying in budget hostels in the developing world, I would nervously check everyday to make sure the cleaning lady hadn’t stolen it. I would also jump to push Jenni aside anytime she wanted to grab something from my bag. I couldn’t wait to propose to Jenni. I talked to my sister a month before we left on our trip, and we agreed that it would be special for Jenni to have our mother’s ring. I also confided in my buddy Krista about my upcoming plans.
I had almost popped the question the night before our launch party in San Francisco. I planned for us to walk on the beach in our neighborhood, then have dinner at the picturesque Cliff House restaurant, and then stay in a hotel downtown. But my sister, knowing that Jenni had other plans, tried to dissuade me by telling me that it would be better to do it after we started our trip. My plan ultimately went down the toilet when, on the day I was going to propose, Jenni was in a complete frenzy with the planning of our launch party and refused to go on a walk with me. So, I lost the money on the hotel room and decided I would wait until her birthday in Bali.
Only one problem…Jenni had started to suspect that I was going to propose on her birthday and she told me that she wasn’t ready to get engaged and that I should hold off. Talk about heartache! I called my sister at home sadly telling her how disappointed I felt. I knew Jenni was worth any wait, but I was confused as to why she wasn’t ready. I immediately thought about sending the ring home so that it would be safe.
So, the first reaction that I had when Jenni popped the question to me on the beach was shock – Shocked that my commitment-phobic partner had been planning this proposal since the beginning of the year. When she sang me the song and got to the line about being her wife, all I could say was “Really?” Once I realized that Jenni was being serious, I said ‘yes’ with a huge smile especially since I knew I had an additional surprise for her with my ring.
After our proposals, we watched the video that Krista had made with messages from my family. We laughed out loud watching my sister and Krista give a play-by-play account of our separate plans to propose. I cried when my extended family gave many heartfelt wishes and welcomed Jenni into the family.
I couldn’t be happier, not only because Jenni said ‘yes’ but also because we have another ten months of honeymooning together. I look forward to returning to California to celebrate with everyone, and I’m hopeful that the time will come soon when our marriage can be legally recognized at home.
Jenni and Lisa have been together for 3 years and they traveled the world for a year in search of gay people who are creating change for the LGBTQ community. Their project, Out and Around: Stories of a Not-So-Straight Journey is a collection of their conversations with these "Supergays" around the world.
Find out more at www.outandaround.com