Anish’s story, continued…
It’s so easy to let life tick on, doing the things we do, one day at a time in autopilot. That incremental feeling of putting one foot in front of the other.
A to B, B to C, C to D. School, then university, then first job, etc.
And when you add time to that equation, it’s even easier to remember just the most recent of those steps.
There I was, Tay by my side, on a plane 30 thousand feet over the eerily vast Pacific Ocean, en route to Hawaii for the first time to take my next step. Our next step. A big next step.
There wasn’t the slightest bit of uncertainty in my mind. I mean, it made total sense. Rationale sense. We fit perfectly together and had for so many years now. We had met ten years ago and had been together for the last five. When I was with Tay, it was clearly evident that our sum was significantly greater than the parts.
And while everything about this felt like the right next step, as I sat in that seat staring out into the massive expanse of water, her head resting fast asleep on my shoulder, I couldn’t help but think ‘how the heck did I land up here!’
See, it made sense when I thought back to our time together in San Francisco or even further back to Boston. But our stories didn’t start there. And as I toggled the zoom dial in my mind and panned out far enough, I started to realize that this wasn’t my next step. It had all been a giant leap.
A leap with the most incredible precision.
Here we were, two ‘southerners’ from South’s on opposite sides of the world. Born to different cultures, nationalities, ideals and aspirations. One living in one of the largest cities in the world and the other in the woods of a tiny town — with oceans, continents, seven thousand miles, and billions of people in between to keep us apart.
At the risk of being overly dramatic, every little decision we made or were a part of, if they had been made a different way would have drastically altered not just the path that lead us to each other, but whether those paths would even meet at all.
My family not moving from India to the UAE. Not going to high-school at Dubai Scholars – the school that nominated me to attend GYLC. Not receiving funding to attend GYLC. Not meeting Tay in the 400 person group during my first trip to the US. Not getting into Boston University. Not moving to the US. Not calling her when I touched down to rekindle a friendship. Not calling her years later. Not calling her again. Not traveling back and forth to see each other. Not deciding to start dating. Not asking her to move to Boston.
All of those and so many countless others. Any single one of which would have resulted in a very different path. Best case scenario we wouldn’t be together. Worst case scenario we would have never met.
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” – Paulo Coelho
As I sat on the plane thinking back, the fresh perspective made it hard for me to deny that the universe just might have had some part to play in me sitting in that seat getting ready to take my next step.
Not incremental. Monumental.
Hawaii was everything we had ever imagined and then some. Everything
moves sways just a little slower. Stepping out of the plane and into the warm tropical air sent us straight into island mode. Well, one of us faster than the other. 😉
Our hotel was breathtaking and the staff upgraded us into a huge suite with a lanai opening out to the ocean. There’s nothing quite like feeling an ocean breeze while lying in bed, *inside* your room.
With my work phone three thousand miles away, Tay and I proceeded to delete all of the apps off of our personal ones, leaving just the dialer for emergencies and Google Maps to get us places. This entire week was about us and nothing else.
Every time we turned, it was like the backdrop of a Planet Earth episode in Ultra HD. I wanted to propose right then. But for months I had been planning to propose on that very specific Tuesday and had timed the trip to coincide with a day that had so much meaning and significance to us. A testament to everything that we had been through together and come out of relatively unscathed. That was the plan and I was sticking to it – stress be damned.
On Tay’s birthday, a few weeks earlier, I had told her we were going to Hawaii and that was her Birthday present. I had claimed that my work schedule wouldn’t clear up for a month so we’d have to wait till a random week in August.
The night before we left, while we were packing she turned to me and very innocently said, “Guess what? Our Anniversary is on Tuesday – what a coincidence! We can celebrate two things at once.”
Yes, my love. Or three…
So like I mentioned earlier, the room was huge. On the furthest end of it was the lanai, an outdoor patio overlooking the ocean. On the other end of the suite was the walk-in closet with a hotel safe, bathroom and changing areas. The bedroom separated the two areas…about ~8 running strides apart, as I would later find out.
Now while I was in full-on island chill mode, the stress of having the ring on me and keeping it unseen was still a mighty one.
My trusty ski socks (I know it must sound like I’m a pro skiier at this point… I’ve been twice. And once was inside a shopping mall!) and my camera bag took turns hiding the precious cargo securely in the safe as went in and out of the room on various adventures.
Safe and secure from would be thieves, yes. But *not* from the constantly arranging and rearranging, Type-A soon to be Mrs. Kattukaran.
Five times, over those two days, I heard the safe unexpectedly beep open. There was nothing in there she needed, other than to perhaps rearrange the already perfectly arranged contents of the safe. And obviously, every *single* one of those times I was sitting out on the lanai.
Time slowed down. Heart attacks occurred. And then I would leap across the room in a full sprint to get to the safe before she found the ring.
After making four separate excuses for urgently needing the camera, I decided to change it up and transfer the ring into my ski-sock and put that in the safe.
The fifth time I heard the safe open was my slowest. As I bounded into the walk-in-closet, Tay was turning towards me reaching out to give me something in her hand.
I looked down and my heart, followed by the rest of my body, froze.
“Babe, why the heck did you bring your ski-socks? And how did they get in the safe?”