Love In The Time of COVID

Shannon & Julian

TINDER

January 17, 2021

Good afternoon,

My name is Shannon Escobar and I met my now husband Julian on Tinder in October of 2016. I am from Columbus, Ohio and Julian is from Medellin, Colombia. In October of 2016 we had both just moved to Columbus. I was returning to Columbus after spending two years abroad in Costa Rica and Julian was coming to Ohio State to complete a year of his PhD program in Mechanical Engineering. Julian didn’t know many people in Columbus and I was feeling lonely back in my hometown because most of my friends had started romantic relationships while I was abroad. We both decided to download Tinder and see what happened.

Our first date was at an El Vaquero near Ohio State’s campus. We hit it off right away and started seeing each other once or twice a week. However, Julian was hesitant to commit because he knew after a year that he would have to return to Brazil where he was completing the rest of his PhD. I had just been accepted to the Masters of Education program at Ohio State so I was tied to Columbus for at least another year. We were at a crossroads and so after a few months of casually dating, we decided to end things. I was heartbroken because I knew he was special: kind, intelligent, witty and handsome. I was in love, but thought this love story wasn’t meant to last. After only a week of being separated, we had agreed to attend a Lumineers concert together as friends. It was uncomfortable at first because I wasn’t sure how he was feeling, but part way through the concert he looked at me and said “I don’t want to be apart. Will you be my girlfriend?”. I told him I had to think about it but I knew I loved him.

Fast forward nine months to September 2017 and we had become inseparable since the concert. Unfortunately, though, our time together was about to expire. Julian had to return to Brazil and I had two more semesters of grad school to complete. We were about to embark on a long distance relationship that crossed thousands of miles and two continents. We called, texted, Facetimed and flew to see each other every few months but those two years apart were the hardest thing either of us have ever had to do. We argued many times and broke up once during the long distance, but our love was true and we knew that we wanted to make it work.

In July of 2019, Julian and I met in Medellin, Colombia to spend time with his family and spend a week together just the two of us at the beach. We had spoken about getting engaged and Julian sent me pictures of rings and I knew we were going to have an amazing time. From Medellin, we flew to San Andres island in the Caribbean. White sand beaches and bright blue water was the perfect backdrop for an incredible vacation.

One day we were there, we decided to take a boat to a smaller island near San Andres. Julian brought his camera equipment including a tripod to take pictures and I packed our beach bag with all the essentials. On the ride over to the other island we marvelled at the gorgeous blue water and perfectly cloudless day. However, the picture perfect day was interrupted when our boat was hit with a wave. Water started to fill up the small, overcrowded speed boat and then a second wave hit. I looked at Julian, terrified. “I think we are going to sink” I said and before he could reply our boat flipped over. We both went underwater and for a terrifying minute we were separated. Luckily we were wearing life jackets and we were able to swim to the top of the water. Panic ensued as people were screaming for their loved ones and I immediately heard Julian calling my name. We were rescued by another boat passing by. Julian lifted himself into the boat first and then helped the capitan lift me into the boat. We hugged each other fiercely crying about how happy we were that we were both alive and okay. Julian then pulled me away from him and said “Will you marry me?”. I replied “Yes, but why?”. He then explained that he had bought a ring and that the ring was in his camera bag which was currently sitting at the bottom of the ocean. I started crying even harder because I loved him, but I wanted to see the ring!

We made it safely back to shore and while we were talking to the police about the accident a man on a jetski came racing up the coast with a black bag in tow. Julian and I raced toward the jetski and miraculously it was Julian’s camera bag! He ripped open the bag and shakily broke open the box that contained the ring . He asked “will you marry me again?”. I said “yes!” and we embraced while our fellow survivors cheered us on and presented us with beer. We had survived a boating accident, two years of long distance and endless hours of missing one another to make it to this point. Nothing could get in the way of our love.

Now in August of 2020, Julian and I are living together in Richland, Washington where he works for the Pacifici Northwest National Laboratory and I am a Spanish teacher. We are planning to have a wedding celebration in Colombia in December of this year and another celebration in Columbus in June 2021 but with the pandemic our plans are on hold. It seemed right, however, to formally commit to one another this summer so we officially married on August 1st while facetiming our respective families. I wanted to share our story with you all at Tinder because without the app we may have never met and embarked on this wild, wonderful journey. Thank you for bringing us and so many other couples together around the world. I will forever be grateful.

Best,
Shannon Escobar