Dave and I met serendipitously via telephone in Chicago one August day. We both had just finished serving as a Peace Corps volunteers in West Africa and were back in Chicago. We were introduced by a high school friend and met at a local bar weekly to swap Peace Corps stories and pictures. Three years later, I moved to Mali on a fellowship to conduct research and work in international relief near Timbuktu. Dave still had one year left in graduate school because he was pursuing a dual degree.
Four months later, during his winter break, Dave came to visit me. We traveled across the Sahara Desert and made it all the way to Timbuktu, one of our dreams since both of us are avid travelers. We then went all the way to his Peace Corps village in Benin, where he was going to propose, but we never had time alone. On the last night of our trip, we went out to dinner at a beautiful restaurant overlooking the ocean. I actually brought up how sad I was to see him go and how I wished we could finally start planning our lives together.
After dinner, we walked out to the terrace, but it was getting cold so I told him I wanted to go back to the hotel. I then saw him fidgeting in his pocket, and it struck me like a ton of bricks that it was happening. He said some very nice things about never wanting to be away from me again and then said, "I am asking you to marry me. " Since it wasn't in question form, it took me a minute to reply, but then I did and screamed yes three times! It could not have been more perfect since West Africa is what brought us together in the first place. Although we grew up living so close to one another, we had to go all the way to West Africa and back to find one another.