Michelle and Francisco heard about each other long before they ever met. Their parents, both Puerto Rican couples living in Georgia, had become fast friends over the past several years. When Michelle moved to Atlanta to start ObGyn residency at Emory, the moms started suggesting they meet. After Michelle met Rosa and Eddie (Francisco’s parents) at a fundraiser for Puerto Rico organized by the Picons, she agreed to sharing her phone number with their son.
A few days later, he reached out and set up a “friends date” for May 6, 2018. They met at New Realm Brewing for drinks and snacks, then spent the rest of the afternoon together meandering down the Beltline (so Francisco could get Jenni’s ice cream, of course).
After having an awesome afternoon together, Francisco that same night explicitly invited Michelle out on a DATE! They went to one of Francisco’s favorite restaurants, Taqueria del Sol. Dinner and drinks turned into staying out until 1am on a weeknight, talking about everything under the sun! Michelle knew this had potential when he asked about the intricacies of performing a Cesarean section, and listened, enthralled, to every detail (even after the bartender had moved away in shock). She was further convinced of the future potential when he asked her out on a second date, and agreed to wait patiently until the next time she had a free Saturday...almost a whole month later.
Turns out Michelle was right! Thanks to Francisco’s patience and flexibility, they were able to find little bits of time to grow their budding relationship despite Michelle’s demanding residency schedule. By August, they were seeing each other several times a week, and by September they were inseparable.
Michelle and Francisco loved how much they had in common. They were both raised in Georgia by Puerto Rican parents, and both had incredible memories of spending the majority of their family vacations in Puerto Rico, enjoying the beautiful island. They both have strong ties to family and made spending time with their parents and siblings a priority, They love being outdoors, being on the water, exercising together, music, and reading. Francisco introduced Michelle to watersports such as wakesurfing (and eventually will get her into kitesurfing), and Michelle in turn has gotten Francisco into salsa dancing and scuba diving!
Michelle loved the way Francisco seamlessly integrated himself into her life. He made every effort to make her life as a resident easier, getting up early with her to make coffee and pack her healthy food for lunch. He dedicated time to getting to know her family and friends, who all quickly welcomed him into the fold. Only a few months into their relationship she already knew: this one is a keeper.
Francisco quickly realized that he had found a gem. He had found himself the charismatic, caring, and compassionate woman he was searching for. Michelle not only tolerated his general silliness, but she also blended into his life so readily. Getting along with friends and family, loving the outdoors and exercising, with a keen interest in reading and music, Michelle was the best friend Francisco had been looking for...and he found her! When you know, you know...and he knew!
By that same winter, Michelle and Francisco had already started talking about getting married and continuing to build their life together. Michelle had asked Francisco to wait to propose until after he had met her remaining family memebers (Monique, Kris, Titi Anina, Amanda, Annie, etc) and her close friends from Duke. They had a big vacation coming up in May, to Puerto Rico to celebrate Michelle’s 30th birthday with the entire family, and then to Boston with the Duke crew for her best friend Maura’s wedding! Francisco realized (with the help of his older brother Eduardo and friends) that proposing in Puerto Rico was the opportunity of a lifetime, and decided to ignore Michelle’s previous instructions (sorry Duke friends).
Originally planning on proposing Sunday night after Michelle‘s 30th birthday party, Francisco was forced to wait until Monday night because Michelle did not want to go out in El Viejo San Juan on Sunday night...she was too exhausted from (surprise) skydiving earlier that morning and continuing her birthday celebration at the beach with family and friends.
On Monday evening (May 20th, 2019), Francisco, Michelle, Monique, Kris, Héctor Miguel, and a few of HM’s friends met up at El Escambron park to walk to El Viejo San Juan. After wandering around EVSJ, HM and friends went to a bar while the other four decided on dinner at La Factoría, one of Michelle’s favorite restaurant/bars. Dinner turned into salsa dancing and suddenly Francisco decided the time had come.
Francisco asked Michelle to walk with him to La Capilla de Cristo, a historic landmark in El Viejo San Juan, site of many childhood memories for both of them, and subject of a cherished painting by Francisco’s grandfather Jaime del Valle. Michelle readily agreed to leaving salsa dancing (much to Francisco’s surprise) because she knew how much the place meant to Francisco and that they likely would not have another opportunity to go.
They wandered together over the cobblestone streets to La Capilla, and stood next to it overlooking the Bay of San Juan brilliantly lit by the full moon. Francisco hugged Michelle and began to tell her how much their love meant to him, then dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. She replied, “¡Sí!”
Shortly afterwards, Monique, Kris, and Hector Miguel arrived to surprise Michelle with celebratory champagne, and Melissa joined the party via FaceTime from Houston. Their last day in Puerto Rico was spent basking in the glow of love and excitement from family and friends, and beginning to dream of their upcoming wedding...in Puerto Rico, of course!