I thought Ayaz and I were heading to Miami to apartment hunt for our next nomadic stint — and this one would be a doozy — a whopping 7-month spree in the 305. Really, that was the overt task at hand. We had booked appointments with realtors, made an ever-changing list of neighborhoods we thought would fit us, and bravely set forth into the wilds of downtown Miami’s real estate market.
To say it was more than a bit unexpected, initially disappointing, eventually stressful, and finally a big win would be to wrap our excursions up into too neat a package. But that, my friends, is a story for another day, another blog post.
Because this is a tale about love. And I ask you, what’s more important than love?
What I couldn’t possibly have ever known as we drove through epic humidity and spotty thunderstorms to a medley of apartments was that Ayaz had a certain ring burning a hole in his pocket.
When at last our lease was signed, and hope could again spring eternal from our real estate-weary minds, we took our rental Volvo on a spin to Key Biscayne — my favorite haven in all of South Florida.
This tiny island right of Miami’s coast is a world away from the Jersey Shore-esque hordes of South Beach, the parties and glitz and glamour. It’s a largely protected island, where much of Florida’s nature hasn’t been bulldozed or blitzed to house highrises and hotels.
When we lived in Miami on our very first location independent stint nearly 2 years ago, this was our safe space, our place to unwind, sniff the salty air, splash in warm waves and read under the shade of a palm tree.
On this particular trip — at last our return to Key Biscayne, I thought! — everything seemed so very normal. We sang made-up lyrics to country music songs and chattered about the ridiculous brilliant blue of the ocean and how we hoped to snarf some smoked fish dip and drink a spot of prosecco at the park restaurant we loved so much.
It was all so typical. So Val and Ayaz. So Vayaz.
Then we were on the sand. We were under the palm trees where we used to sit. Ayaz asked me to close my eyes. And I knew.
When I opened them, I saw my best friend and favorite person on one knee, and he asked me to marry him. And I said yes – of course!
Together we have traveled around this great, wide world. We have seen cities, villages, oceans and islands. Gaped together at the wonders and beauty our Earth holds, laughed harder than I thought possible on boats, trains, planes and rickshaws. Danced under full moons and half moons and sunny skies. I’ve cried to him when I’ve struggled, told him my fears when I’m shaken, and been my most honest, real and scabby version of myself with him. And he loves me. And I love him.
There’s still so incredibly much of this universe we have left to explore. And we will. Together. Always together.
(Oh! In case you’re wondering? As soon as we left the beach, as soon as I could stop saying “OH MY GOD!” in absolute wonder, you better believe we went and ordered that smoked dip. We ate every last bit of it, too.)