Before there was “us,” there was just me.

I was born overseas in a refugee camp, immigrated as a baby, and raised in Cincinnati. In college, I studied biomedical engineering at the University of Cincinnati.

As a part of my program requirement, I had to complete a few semesters of co-op. I interviewed and accepted a co-op position in Pittsburgh at a large medical device company.

Taking only my car, a laundry basket, and some textbooks, I moved to my new city that I would call home for six months.

Pittsburgh: City of Steel

Ready to connect with other people in a new city, I was on Facebook trying to find new friends.

Social media wasn’t really a thing back then!

It was 2006, just two years after Facebook was created. People didn’t use Facebook to find NEW friends. It was used to connect with existing friends.

I was a weirdo.

As I was clicking, I saw an electrical engineering major at Carnegie Mellon University with a Vietnamese name who lived right down the street within walking distance. I did what people didn’t do outside of AIM. I messaged a stranger.

He actually replied and we chatted for a bit.

The next day in what became the most important meeting of our lives, we met for coffee at the Starbucks in Squirrel Hill.

He wore a hoodie, glasses, and nerdy. He was quiet, shy, and very genuine. I instantly fell in love with how kind and gentle he was. Even though we just met, I felt like I knew him my whole life. We connected because of how much we had in common in terms of our values and what we wanted in life.

Falling In Love With My Future Husband

Throughout the summer, we became the bestest of friends. Our convos went like this:

“I played Final Fantasy VII, too!”
“My parents left Vietnam on a boat, too!”
“Oh, I go to the same church!”
“My mom also beat me with chopsticks!”

As we were hanging out one day I said to him:

 Me: I like you.

Now-Husband: I like you, too.

A few weeks into our new friendship, he reached out and held my hand. I consider that the day we became girlfriend and boyfriend.

Facing A Fork In The Road: Long Distance or Move?

Summer and my co-op were coming to an end. I counted down my final days in Pittsburgh. Soon, I had to go back home because fall classes were waiting for me.

Would we last long distance? What if we don’t see each other again?

Now I know he was thinking the same.

We had a moment in our lives where we faced a road not taken. We could turn left, when we could have turned right.

My now-husband surprised me because in what was the most important move in his life, he said. “I’m going to apply for jobs in Cincinnati.”

He did.

And got one.

And moved to be with me.

He said, “I need to chase my dream.”

The Medical Journey Begins

After his move to Cincinnati, he left the engineering field and pursued a second career of medicine.

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We got married during the first year of medical school and started the medical journey, from which the stories inspired me to write