I went to Oslo to work. I’d found a super cheap flight to Norway online, booked it, and then realized I was going to the most expensive country in the world. So I decided my time would be better spent working during the day instead of spending money. I rented an apartment in the Grünerløkka part of town, purchased some groceries so I could cook meals at home, and made a schedule of work-related goals to accomplish during the seven days I’d be there.
I think I ticked off maybe two things from that list. Because on my third day in Oslo, I heard a knock at the door.
At first, I was frightened. No one, apart from friends and family, knew where I was. I didn’t know anyone in Oslo, and the people I’d rented the apartment from were vacationing in the south of France. Why would anyone be knocking at my apartment door at 10:30am? And even if I answered it, would I be able to communicate with them? Oslo is known to be an incredibly safe city, but would I be the first murder the town had ever heard of?
Moving gingerly, heart beating quickly, I opened the door. Behind it was my boyfriend, Tom. I didn’t recognize him at first, because he sort of looks like every Norwegian man I’d encountered — 6’2″, pointed features, impeccably dressed, cheeks stung bright pink from the harsh winds outside.
“Can I help — um, what the fuck?!” were the first words to come out of my mouth as I realized who it was.
I could see the fatigue in his eyes from traveling overnight in a cramped airline seat. He smiled, and slowly lowered himself down to one knee. And then, it happened —
He proposed to me.
My initial reaction was confusion. “What?!” I kept repeating. “What are you doing here?! I don’t get it, how did you get here?! WHAT IS GOING ON?!”
He hugged me from the floor, laughing. Later on, I realized I had forgotten to accept his proposal after ushering him into my flat, claiming that he must be exhausted from his trip and needed to rest. But I didn’t really need to say it, because he already knew the answer.
Tom and I have been dating for three and a half years. We’ve been friends since high school (I was his senior prom date), and after years of dating other people, we realized it was time we actually got together. We’ve been living together since 2012.
Tom doesn’t really travel, per se. He likes traveling, and wishes he could do it more often. But he doesn’t have the same amount of vacation time as I do. He enjoys his job as a hospital system administrator, and his priority right now is saving money to help us start our life together. We have to plan our trips very carefully, to fit his schedule. He’s also very cautious, and doesn’t like to make spontaneous decisions without thoroughly thinking them over.
When I’d asked him if he wanted me to buy him a ticket to Oslo, at $450 round-trip, his initial reaction was hesitancy.
“I’m not sure I can take off the time,” he’d told me. That was in August. The trip would be for the following March.
One of the best things about Tom, however, is that he lets me travel wherever I want, without question. When other couples hear about my solo travel plans, they’re confused. “Don’t you want to travel with him?” or, “I’d never let me girlfriend go anywhere by herself,” are the most common reactions I get.
But that’s not what Tom is about. He knows that if he were to keep me from doing the thing I love most, he’d lose me.
We trust each other, which also helps. He knows he can let me go to Oslo for a week and I won’t cheat on him. Likewise, I know he would never take some random bargirl home and screw her while I was away. That’s something a lot of couples don’t have, but it’s what’s kept our relationship so strong.
Tom’s never really been a planner — he’s left that part of our vacations to me. So when he showed up at my apartment in Oslo, bags in hand and ready to kiss me, I couldn’t believe it at first. This is the guy who said he wanted to propose to me on the Jumbotron at a New York Islander’s hockey game.
I’m super glad he didn’t.
Words still can’t explain the depth of emotion I feel for Tom right now. Never in a million years would I have expected him to pull off such a romantic, unique proposal. But now I know he is capable of anything, and that his love for me goes beyond his customary hesitations.
We spent the next five days together exploring Oslo. We called our families over Skype to announce the good news (Tom had already informed them of his plans, and I still can’t believe they kept the secret for so long). I took my photo next to Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”, showing off my engagement ring, which belonged to my grandmother. Tom used the free ring to justify his travel expenses.
“I knew this would mean more to you than an actual store-bought ring,” he told me. “I could have bought five trips to Norway for the price of one ring. And the way you score deals to travel, I knew this would be a better return on my investment.”
He was incredibly right.
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