This was a blog post that I had saved as a draft back in December 27, 2014 at 03:47 AM.  Because of the crazy dental schedule and life I currently endure, I never got the chance to publish it until now.

This post explains why I decided to take that big step.

Initially, I was going to recreate our first date on December 21 (Sunday) and propose at the end of that day.  Unfortunately, Youwen found out due to a freak accident on my part and the whole plan blew up in my face.  However, your boy was able to conjure up a plan that had meaning and, with the support of family and friends, was able to succeed and give her the biggest surprise of her life.  Below, is the plan that I had drawn up with the time, location, and meaning behind it.  When I had initially made this blueprint, I accidentally treated like a blog entry.  From this proposal idea, I hope you will gain a sense on what Youwen meant to me and why I decided to take the big step and pop the question.

12:00 pm: Lunch at Landmark Americana (West Chester, PA)

Figure 1: What better way to meet people than at a bar?

Meaning: This was the first place where Youwen and I met through a West Chester University (WCU) graduate student social.  It was a miracle on how we met.  We both went there with friends in order to get free food.  During the social event, I met two Asian graduate students and immediately began conversing with them.  Because WCU had so few Asians, it was only natural that we Asians come together like magnets and interact.  Later on that evening,  Youwen arrived  and met up with the two Asian graduate students (her classmates), and was told about that Asian guy who, in their words, “eats a lot of chicken.”   While I sat at the bar table and looked through the drink menu, Youwen (coincidentally) stands next to me and looks at her own drink menu.  Without thinking, I decided to initiate.

Me: Hey, what drink are you planning to order?

Youwen: Oh, I’m not sure actually.

Me: Well…YOU should order the MOJITO! I hear it’s a good drink here!

And from there, we both ordered our own mojitos and began to converse without realizing this would be our first drink together.

When you think about it, if it wasn’t for this event, we would have never met.
We had no mutual friends.
We studied different degrees (she was in statistics while I was in biology).
We both came from different backgrounds (she was an international student from China while I was your typical Asian-American).

If we had never met at Landmark Americana, our lives would have been completely different.  

2:00 pm: Valley Forge National Historical Park (King of Prussia, PA)

Figure 2: Yes, it is easy for us to park our cars and walk there, but I want us to work for this.

Meaning:  The journey to get to this point where I feel that we are ready to take the next step in our life didn’t happen overnight after our first meeting.  On the surface, while our courtship seemed brief, we were able to get to know each other very well.  We saw and interacted with each other almost everyday during our time at graduate school.

The journey is more important than the beginning or the end.

Figure 3: The journey begins.

Meaning:   Our purpose at West Chester University was solely for advancing our own career goals.  When we first met, we thought of each other, simply, as friends.  However, as we got to know each other, we started developing feelings for each other.

We started to have”firsts” that we both haven’t experienced in a long time.

For her, it was the first time in a while that any guy really cared for her and treated her special. 

For me, it was the first time in a while that any girl really appreciated and cared about me.

Figure 4: A meadow looking far and beyond.

Meaning:  When we first started dating, we didn’t know what to expect.  It was something unplanned.  However, when we both took that big step to trust each other, our relationship grew beautifully.  She was an artist.  She complemented parts about me that I lacked.  In fact, she brought out something inside of me that I mostly kept to myself.

Growing up, I always dreamed about being with a special someone.  I dreamed of adventures and travel that only my beloved and I would share with each other.  Nothing would be more fulfilling and heartwarming than sharing your happiness with that special someone.  As you can tell, I watched way too many Disney movies when I was a kid, but I always held out hope that I would find my own princess someday.  However, I kept this romanticized fantasy to myself and focused with my own career and life goals.

She had awakened it.

Figure 5: Cabins left over from the past and still stand to this day.

Meaning:  We were both very honest with each other.  We told each other about our past, our previous relationships, and our life struggles.  It was one of many steps that we took when we decided to trust each other.  We both came with baggage.  We shared our secrets and weaknesses with each other.  It was really tough to do this.  Building a trust like this with someone takes a long time.  However, because we interacted with each other so frequently, we were able to reach this point at a faster pace.  We learned to accept each other for who we were and move on from our past.  Our relationship was not meant to act as amnesia for our past, but rather, mark the beginning of building new memories together.

Our past will always remain, but that won’t stop us from starting a new chapter together.

Figure 6: It takes a team to operate a cannon.

Meaning:  Youwen and I didn’t simply like each other.  We also complemented and worked well together.  She had her street smarts, Chinese fluency, affable personality, and motherly love.  For me, I had my testosterone strength, English fluency, practical and determined attitude, and fatherly care.  Yes, we are able to operate and function independently, but the ideal boyfriend/girlfriend is one who you can work effectively as a team.

There is no such thing as a perfect person, but together, we make a perfect team.

In addition to this, she would come up with all the crazy adventures that we would go on and, 90-95% of the time (barring any safety concerns), I would make it happen for her.

She was the dreamer and I was her guardian angel.

Figure 7: A house big enough for a family.

Meaning:  Youwen and I are career-focused people.  However, we are both also family-oriented people.  We want to do well in our careers not because we love money and prestige, but we both want to build a good life for our future children.  Growing up, we learned the value of family and how we both want to raise our children to be successful.  While money won’t be the end all be all in how we live, we both want to make enough that money will never be a concern when building our future family together.

We will both always give our very best to each other and to our future children.

Figure 8: This is where I will propose.

Meaning: To me, this arch is a gateway.  It is the door that will take us to the next step in our lives.  It can be a very scary thing because of the unknown that lies ahead of us.  I will admit, I was very hesitant in coming here.

I was afraid.

I was afraid of what lied ahead of me and thought about the number of things that could go wrong.  Part of me had that pride that I would be relying on Youwen to support me instead of the other way around.  However, the biggest hesitation stemmed from my fear.  I feared that I wouldn’t make it through dental school and become a disappointment to Youwen (a fear that stemmed from what happened to me at my nursing school).  A midlife crisis is one of those experiences that one never forgets.

I was afraid of hitting rock bottom again.

However, Youwen always comforted and assured me that our relationship was one where she would always be there for me.  We would always be there to help each other, celebrate together, and cry together.

We will always be there for each other no matter what happens.

In all my years in getting here to where I am today, I am at point where I know what I want in life.  While I still have my own career aspirations, I do know that someday I want to be with a loving wife and raise a good family.  I want Youwen to be that loving wife.

While it is true that this was not the initial place I had in mind in doing my proposal, I guess it goes to show that there will be many times in life where things don’t go according to plan.  However, in hindsight, I felt that this place actually has more meaning in our relationship than the previous one.  This also goes to show that God is truly in control of everything.

I hope Youwen will love this idea as I will give her my speech, knee on one knee, and ask  for her hand in marriage.

Figure 9: December 20, 2014 (Saturday).  The first photo taken of the proposal.

The proposal:

Zhang, Youwen,

In celebration of our anniversary, I have a question I want to ask you.

This structure that you see here before you is known as a triumphal arch, which was built by the Romans to symbolize triumph and perfection in the Roman society.  As we reflect on our one year anniversary together, it is amazing how God has brought us to this point since our first met at Landmark Americano one year ago.

This arch is a gateway in the next chapter in our lives.

Zhang, Youwen

Will you, marry me?

The rest was history.



Filed under July 2013

3 responses to “Her

  1. J

    very thoughtful, true, and touching.

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