Amber and Jeff's Alaskan Adventure

  On August 1st, 2014 I packed my car to the max and moved 1,027 miles across the country to Bethesda, Maryland to work as a travel nurse.  On that summer day I chose to leave my loving family, best friends and my job. I left behind the comfortable life I had in Arkansas in search of something more.  I wasn’t sure what that “something more” was and I was uncertain that I would ever find it. But I knew I had to travel. I had to get lost. I had to find myself and with a little luck I found him. 


  I was excited and absolutely terrified at the same time. What if I didn’t make it? But what if I flourished? I ended up staying in Maryland for eight months then traveled on to New York City where I explored for six months. While in these two cities, I learned more about myself than I ever thought imaginable. I loved and I lost. I fought and I failed. I learned what things I wanted in my life and what things I did not. The whole year was a whirlwind of emotions and lessons that I will forever be thankful for. Because of traveling I was able to recognize how strong I really am. 

There’s something about being surrounded by the unfamiliar that gives you strength. Maybe it’s because you are free to be the purest version of yourself or maybe it is just because you encounter more opportunities the farther you get from your doorstep.

The beauty of it, though, is that the world won’t judge you for your mistakes. And if the people in it do, it won’t matter because you’ll be on to the next place soon enough.

Amber noticed the roots of this tree and how closely they resembled the human heart.

I was finishing up my last week in New York and was all set to head to Texas next when my recruiter called me and told me that the hospital had canceled my contract. She told me not to worry, that it would all work out. By the end of the week she had me a job offer at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. A few weeks later, I was settled in my new apartment, only a two hour drive from home. I worked my first few days in a lab with people who left a good first impression of the place. And then, in the middle of all my chaos, there was Jeff. He was a full time nurse there in the cath lab where I was going to be for the next thirteen weeks. One of our first conversations was him rattling off a handful of jokes that actually made me laugh, even the stupid "knock knock" one. He claimed he had to get a feel for my sense of humor.  I could not tell you if I loved him the first moment I saw him or if it was the second, third or fourth time; but I do remember the first moment I looked at him and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with him. It's amazing how love finds you when you least expect it. Jeff and I became buddies without expectations. Over the next few weeks he became my closest friend. We were constantly joking and sharing funny pictures and videos we found on the internet. I’m certainly sure our co-workers recognized what was happening before we did. We stood there in the room, just friends, while everyone could see that we were only existing for each other.  


As the weeks passed, our friendship grew deeper. We talked about our friends, family and our love of football and dogs. I filled him in on all the details of my past year traveling and he told me all about his busy life and his experience of owning a gym while still working at the hospital. We both knew that we had met someone special but neither of us were looking for anything serious. I had just recovered from an unhealthy relationship that left me doubting that love still existed. I believe that every painful love I have been through was just an incident to crack open the deepest parts of my core and allow me to explore a passion so rare that I would find a love that was almost never meant to be. I was only in Memphis for a short amount of time. My contract was nearing the end and they hadn't offered an extension yet. He was so busy between the gym ownership and the hospital that he didn’t have much spare time.  I knew there was no way this would ever work out.  


  The extension offer finally came and towards the end of December. At the time, Jeff was hosting an ugly Christmas sweater party at his house. Of course I helped him plan this shindig. We worked on our own ugly sweaters, Christmas decorations, lights and food. And it was during the crafting of a solo cup Christmas tree that our fate was set in stone. We were so unexpectedly compatible. We shared the same strong beliefs, a similar sense of humor, morals and values, and very close dreams and aspirations for the future. I knew right away that he was it. Was I ready for love again? When someone makes you feel alive again, well it is worth the risk. I could tell he was just as scared to love as I was, but yet we both carelessly climbed into each other's embrace and before we knew it love had found us. To say our love has been the greatest adventure would be an understatement.


“There’s something about being surrounded by the unfamiliar that gives you strength. Maybe it’s because you are free to be the purest version of yourself or maybe it is just because you encounter more opportunities the farther you get from your doorstep.”


There isn’t any questioning the fact that some people enter your life, at the exact point of need, want or desire - it’s sometimes a coincidence and most times fate, but whatever it is, I am certain it came to make me smile.
— Nikki Rowe

Ari and Sam's Dominican Republic Elopement

One of the most intimate depictions of a couple we have crafted yet is the story of Ari and Sam's elopement in the Dominican Republic. With open hearts and pure honesty, we spent two days roaming the island in a introspective journey that eventually led to sacred vows. The following story was written by Ari.

On the morning of August 21st, 2013, in the front row of an Astronomy classroom, our lives changed forever. I flurried in a minute late in a pink trench coat, hair still wet from a rushed shower, and quietly sat down next to a tall, well-dressed guy wearing blue wingtips with pastel sox. Neither of us were feeling very hopeful about our love lives at the time. We had both had a tumultuous year, and Sam had thrown himself into his passion for mathematics, studying for hours on end, while I was uncertain about the future and didn’t know what I wanted out of life.


We may not have known our fate, but it didn’t go unnoticed on Sam’s part that a pretty girl had chosen to sit right next to him. I too noticed that he was quick to join the study group I invited him to, even though he was a brilliant student and had absolutely no need for a tutor. After a few weeks of discussing the Doppler effect, catching each other’s eyes over the lab room table, and developing private jokes, we found ourselves in a cafe, stepping into the rhythm of effortless conversation, probably irritating the waitress by ordering nothing more than two teas and lingering, completely engrossed in each other.


“We had no idea that we would soon uplift, adore, teach, and passionately love each other in ways we didn’t think existed outside of movies and books. Soon, everything that had ever happened to us, good or bad, would be reconciled and finally make perfect sense because it all had made our lives together possible.”

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Afterwards, we wound up at an electronic music show in a dark, very hot theater at a modern art museum. We were nonetheless exhilarated to be together, and when he held the door for me on the way out, gently grabbing my shoulders to move me to the inside of the sidewalk (a classic, gentlemanly move I had never heard of until then), I completely forgot about the atrocious techno music ringing in my ears, and swooned over the feeling of being cherished and respected in a way I had never known. I could tell by the way his lips curled at the edges that he had enjoyed the night just as much as I had, and there would be many more dates to come.

“We would later laugh about how terrible the music was, but what I didn’t tell him for a long time was that when his green cashmere sweater grazed my skin on the armrest we were sharing, I shivered and had a simple thought strike me, clear and true: “I am going to marry him.”

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As our relationship developed, the serendipitous and fateful “coincidences” from our past that we discovered astounded us. We found out that the hardware store his family had owned for over 100 years was right behind my grandparent’s house, and our families had known each other for generations. Sam went to high school with my uncles, and I went to high school with his cousin. All this time, we had been running in the same circles, just barely missing each other, but our lives had finally aligned. We decided we didn’t believe in coincidences anymore. These were all blazing signs from the universe, telling us our paths were meant to join.


Sam encouraged me to rediscover my passion for writing, get my poems published, and earn an English degree with honors, while I stood by him as he delved into his love of mathematics and realized his dream of becoming an actuary. From wondering where rent money was going to come from to oceanside hotel rooms in paradise, the two of us have worked to manifest a life of prosperity and joy, never limiting one another or allowing each other to say “I can’t do it”.


Over the next four years we built a life together involving various tiny apartments, two crazy chihuahuas, a spontaneous trip to Cuba (and other wild traveling experiences), the invention of many recipes, death-defying ski lessons, even more death-defying slippery drives on mountain pass roads, inside jokes, salty ocean kisses, “I’ve-never-told-anyone-that” moments, convertible rides, good beer, late nights, spontaneous trips to random county fairs, dancing, cuddles, tears, obstacles, and all the love we could ever want.


We’ve made it through sweltering summers without air conditioning, scrounging up quarters to wash our clothes, and we have sipped champagne with gold-flaked desserts at the Ritz Carlton. We’ve weathered some of the darkest days imaginable hand-in-hand, and we’ve spent other days in absolute bliss. We know when to be good influences on each other, and we know when to throw caution to the wind and be partners in crime. Through trials and triumphs, we have been each other's constant ally.


With our love story in mind, we were moved to tears, laughter, more tears, and absolute euphoria as we stood on a beach at dusk in the Dominican Republic and recited handwritten vows that we had already made in our hearts years ago.


Although we chose to wed privately, our loved ones surrounded us in spirit, and we are grateful for their support as we set out to live the rest of our days together: for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part, and beyond.