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Love on the Rocks

GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

Welcome back to SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR, the "No Perfect Love" episode. My name is Glynn Washington. And now there are a lot of you out there right now, even now, that remain skeptical, dubious of this love-at-first-sight notion. All right, OK. Have a listen to our next story before you put any money on it. SNAP JUDGMENT.

DAN: I was walking down a street, and a girl was driving past in a car and our eyes met.

TOBHI: He seemed to almost have an aura about him that I found very attractive. He also looked like he was in need of a lift, but I did think that was slightly insane. So I kept driving.

DAN: And she kept driving, and I was back in my own head again.

TOBHI: But then I did actually hear a voice, and this is where it gets a bit supernatural. I'd never heard a voice before, and the voice was as clear as someone sitting next to me. And it said, if you don't stop and pick this guy up, you'll regret it.

DAN: And that car got to a roundabout and suddenly did a U-turn. This girl pulls up. She's got very wild hair, is what I noticed first, big smile - very open smile - and she pulls up and throws open the passenger door.

TOBHI: I was nervous, but it was a real cocktail of nerves, and absolutely high as a kite.

DAN: And before I knew what was happening, she's asking if I wanted to jump in, and could she give me a lift?

TOBHI: It was probably less than five minutes, and in that time, we established that we actually had a mutual friend that he was studying with.

DAN: Tobhi rang that friend quite soon after our meeting.

TOBHI: And I can almost remember this word for word. I said I met this guy. His name's Dan. I don't know his surname. He's fantastic. I think I could be in a relationship with him is what I said, which is insane.

DAN: The fact that Tobhi and I had just had this little interaction that was so unique I suppose felt quite promising.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAN: Apart from our meeting and starting that relationship, which seemed quite quick, getting engaged was a longer process, to be honest. It was really Tobhi taking a lead for many years trying to kind of encourage me.

TOBHI: I felt confident that I wanted to formalize what we had already. So I started leaving notes on our shopping list.

DAN: And it would get down past the yogurt and toilet paper and cauliflower, and there would be engagement ring, you know, in the same sort of scrawled text.

TOBHI: For a long time, I would also propose to Daniel. And I would also always do it when it felt right for me to ask him, you know, a beautiful moment in your relationship. You might be going for a walk, or you've seen a beautiful film, or been out to dinner, and you're just feeling right together, and then I would say, will you marry me? And he would say, I can't just say yes to that. I wanted to see you to see putting in more effort (laughter).

DAN: I maybe didn't take it as a grave kind of proposal from her. It was more just a very kind of playful - we were still both young.

TOBHI: So that was my way of expressing my love and telling him I wanted to marry him was just to say it when it felt right. But for him, as it turned out, it needed to be formalized and quite beautiful and theatrical.

DAN: My strategy was to take Tobhi totally by surprise. I had ordered a large box full of these waterproof LED lights. And they arrived from the States and I had to quiet - quickly hide them somewhere in the apartment so the game wouldn't be discovered.

TOBHI: And maybe it said this on the parcel, perhaps they specialized in underwater LEDs?

DAN: The whole thing had to be really casual in order for the surprise to sort of come off. So I caught the bus down to the bay. I had been down there recently to check where the sun is at that particular time of day to make sure the effect would be heightened.

TOBHI: And he said to me, meet me at Gordon's Bay, which is the beach further south from us, and I thought, well, that's unusual. And I put two and two together - this Thursday evening he's going to propose to me, and I thought this just feels really odd.

DAN: I decided to create a star constellation out of these little LEDs. I had a bottle of champagne and some ice, and I set that up in a rock pool.

TOBHI: And he joined the stars so that it said marry me in the stars, as if to say our love is meant to be and it's in the stars.

DAN: So when I did show her the lights and then pull out this little star map and hand it to her and...

TOBHI: My heart felt heavy. He looked so vulnerable with the little lights illuminating the rock pool and the champagne, and I remember thinking this isn't right for me, this moment isn't right. And we hugged, and he was waiting. He was looking at my face in anticipation, and I said I'm really sorry. I said to him I'm not saying no, I just can't say yes.

DAN: You go out on a limb like that, where even though it's someone you know so well, it really is very exposing to say, would you spend the rest of your life with me? And when someone doesn't necessarily say no, but certainly doesn't say yes, I needed to know what was going on.

TOBHI: And he said, well, will you come to the restaurant with me anyway? And I said no, I really can't. I'm so sorry.

DAN: I had a limousine driver waiting in a car just above the rocks. I had booked a boutique hotel for the night as well.

TOBHI: And then I walked home, and he was left. Then he had to go and tell the driver that he wouldn't be needed.

DAN: I think I was pretty dazed.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAN: Eventually I did come back to the apartment. And at that stage I was certainly a bit of a wreck. I was sobbing uncontrollably, and I remember just collapsing on a bench outdoor on the balcony.

TOBHI: To see my partner bereft like that was horrible.

DAN: And it wasn't just an emotional thing. It quite quickly became quite a physiological thing where my body just was sapped of all energy from that emotional kind of disappointment.

TOBHI: Very quickly the next day it was obvious to me that he was also unwell.

DAN: I started to develop what was strangely a pain in my spine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAN: Every step I took would lead to a sharp, shooting pain, and this headache that I had kind of didn't fade at all. It was really, it was just - it was set in.

TOBHI: It's like his whole body became stiff with age all of a sudden.

DAN: And we went to the local GP. She said, well, I hate to say it, but I think you've got some sort of meningitis. It's really serious, and you've got to get yourself to emergency because you can be dead in a matter of, you know, 48 hours. So here I was with my not-bride-to-be, and she drove me off to emergency. After many, many hours in the waiting room, they did all agree that I had viral meningitis.

TOBHI: When we came home from hospital, I became Daniel's primary carer, and I cared for him for close to a week. And we just shut ourselves away from the world. It was as though we had to put all of the emotional trauma to the side.

DAN: I think Tobhi was really keeping her distance. She was certainly looking after me, but was not engaging in any meaningful kind of discussions or interaction at the time. It was really just a nursing role without wanting to bring to the fore that complicated, awkward problem that we had before us.

TOBHI: And in that time, I also did a lot of soul-searching. I went for long walks, and I tried to piece together whether or not I wanted to marry Daniel. It really felt like all or nothing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TOBHI: I took some of those LEDs - underwater LED candles that Daniel had used at the proposal.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

DAN: She had taken those lights, switched them all on on that same balcony and written, in three large letters, Y-E-S. And she had a very gentle smile on her face, where she almost wasn't expecting me to accept it.

TOBHI: And he wept. And within 24 hours, he had recovered from his viral meningitis. And that was us. That was - that felt right.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Love, sweet love. Thank you, Tobhi and Dan, for sharing your story. That piece, that came to us from independent producer Kate Montague. She produced a different version for the storytelling platform Narratively. We'll have a link on our website, snapjudgment.org. That piece was produced by Kate Montague, with assistance from Ana Adlerstein.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: That's right, you've reached the end, the end of this hour of SNAP JUDGMENT. Sure, but not to fear. A whole world of SNAP awaits your listening pleasure. Subscribe now to the podcast for hours of SNAP storytelling for free - iTunes, Stitcher, wherever amazing things are collected and handed out for free - snapjudgment.org. Join the conversation on Facebook, SNAP JUDGMENT - Twitter, SNAP JUDGMENT.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

WASHINGTON: Now, have you ever gone in search of true love's kiss? Well, better not to wander around the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I'm not sure they appreciated what we were trying to do (kissing sound), but much love to the CPB. Tell PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, that if they liked it, they should have put a ring on it - prx.org. And this is not the news. No way is this the news. In fact, you could ask one of those cool mariachi bands to play a tune for your girlfriend, and when they leave, you could notice your girlfriend is gone, too. And you would still not be as far away from the news as this is. But this is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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