Love is in the air this weekend, as we are all reminded of this as we walk across store fronts. Stores packed with chocolates, fragrances, wines and every stuffed animal you can think of. The time loved ones show their affection in many ways (often in material form) for their significant other. While others that might not have a special valentine, are left with a somewhat empty feeling inside as they watch the world around them fall madly for each other. Some people hoping for Cupid to shoot a sharp arrow into the heart of someone they admire, or maybe do something else with the arrow on an ex-partner! On this very special day, I choose to celebrate one of my loves, the love of travel.
Oh how I miss thee, you’re free wielding mentality of accepting everyone that crosses your path. The timelessness that you show with your treatment of historical monuments and new age architecture. The allowance of making point A to point B feel so much more unique and exciting. The cultural differences that you expose, make the perfect ingredients in a melting pot of this place we call earth.
Enough already? I think you get the point that I miss travel?!
One of my favorite movies is Brown Sugar. A story of two childhood friends that bonded over their passion for music. As they move through their lives and relationships, their passion for music turns more towards a passion for each other. The movie ends with a typical happy ending, but there is something so appealing about the premise. A strong passion between them for a similar hobby, somehow makes a bond stronger than ever. I also really dig the soundtrack. Which, then brings me to my intertwined love of my fiancé and travel.
I remember meeting my fiancé for our first date at a local restaurant in Modesto. I had recently moved there for a position with my current company. I had many relationships in the past, but nothing ever stuck. It was mutual in the break ups and no hard feelings were kept for the most part. What changed with my fiancé? I’m unsure of what it was in the moment, but there is something about her that I felt a connection with. Maybe it was her positivity and optimistic view on life, or the way it felt like she constantly had my back, regardless of the situation. None the less, we made that connection. We continued dating and we forged a stronger relationship with each other as time went on. We come from very different worlds and walks of life, but sometimes that can be the perfect mixture. That famous quote of opposites attract can be all too real sometimes.
The one opposite we had at first was travel. She was nervous at first on wanting to travel the world. I’ve been passionate about this since I was a young child. Touring the states with my grandparents was an instantaneous love with travel. Her on the other hand, had really only traveled a small amount in her life. Often to places where relatives had lived. This lead to an uncertainty with travel and what it brought.
Our first trip together was in the spring after we met. We decided to take a weekend away at Lake Tahoe. The snow was still settled on the ground and we found a perfect deal on a chalet near a ski area. As we settled in, we went on our first hike together through the mountains in hope of a waterfall. As we walked the trail, the rain started to pour down from the heavens. After walking close to a half mile more, I decided to take a look ahead and see if I could see how much further it would be to the waterfall. I sprinted as fast as I could in the rain and snow, pushing through because I was unsure of leaving her alone. I ran until I felt like the trail was just going to go forever. As I caught my breath, I decided to head back and make sure she was ok. As I hurried back, I saw her in the distance on a log. As tears splashed down to make huge holes in the snow below, I felt a guilt like no other for leaving her. As we embraced and her tears started to wipe away and a smile came across her face, I knew I didn’t want her to feel that way again.
Another year down the road and we were on our first trip to Paris. The different sites that we took in and found throughout the city were romantic to say the least. The first night there, I had scheduled a boat cruise. I had a plan to say I love her for the first time. I hadn’t said it and it had been a while since we first started dating. I know she had been itching for me to confess the words, but I wanted it to be perfect. What could be more perfect than on a romantic cruise in front of the Eiffel Tower in the city of love? As we got back from our cruise, we walked the streets of Paris. As I looked into her gorgeous brown eyes, I couldn’t hold back anymore. I pushed through and got up the courage to say those three little words. Words that rang so strong in her ears that she grabbed me tight and reached in for a kiss. The perfect scenario for a statement that meant so much.
Years later in 2019, I had finally decided that the time was right. I asked her mother and brother two months earlier if they felt like they could handle me as a family member. With both of them smiling and giving me a hug, I had to make the assumption it was ok for me to pop the question. I looked for the perfect moment. The ring was ready, I now had to decide on the place. As places crossed my mind, I finally thought through it. Yosemite couldn’t be better. A challenge she faced at one point was reaching the top of upper Yosemite falls. It’s a difficult trail, but extremely rewarding when you reach the top. I planned to propose as we reached the top. Well, it didn’t go very well! The snow at the top of the trail, made us feel as if we were walking our way through a blizzard. As our feet started to slip and slide on the small trail at peak elevation, we decided it would be better to head back down. My mind going back and forth to think through another place to propose. As we made our way down, I decided to propose in the valley in front of Yosemite falls. As I maneuvered through children jumping in front of my camera I had lined up, I finally got the perfect moment. I again pushed through the dry mouth and nerves to express my love for her. It didn’t take long for tears of joy and a yes to the proposal. The various situations I went through to finally pull it off, may not seem like a perfect scenario, but in a way, it kind of did.
Fast forward to our travel across the world. We’ve visited Hawaii four times, many countries in Europe and several places across the United States. My fiancé has found the love for travel that I have always felt. I’m not sure on when she found this love, but it always eggs me on to travel more! Every chance we get, we start looking at places we haven’t been and places we want to go. The pandemic has brought our travel down, I won’t say to a halt! We made brief trips around the United States over the past year and one trip to Hawaii when it opened up. We’ve visited family in Michigan and took weekend trips by ourselves around California. It still feels different though, it feels restricted.
We have also dealt with planning a wedding during the pandemic. As we made our plans and engagement photos in 2019, we were excited and so were our friends and family. Everything was booked and ready to go for our wedding in June, 2020. An outdoor wedding in the middle of a vineyard, with a beautiful reception area. All of our loved ones around us, what says love more than that right? Well, June came and it wasn’t possible, then the date was changed to September. The news said, this pandemic can’t last past the fall, could it? As we got into July, there was no end in sight. Our plans changed again and we were beside ourselves. The difficulty of a wedding was bad enough, but now rebooking for a third time? Many got married that year in very small settings. Backyards with just a few people to witness. My fiancé has been accustomed to big weddings her whole life. Could I not give her the wedding of her dreams?
We rebooked a final time for April of 2021. We said this is the final date. We will do it regardless. We went back and forth on having a larger amount of people or more intimate. The choice was finally made to have just family at the wedding. Extra precautions would be taken with masks customized with our names across the front. Bracelets for people to wear to talk to their comfort level, food served by plate and hand sanitizer at every table. The perfect setting for a much smaller, safe, but still happy wedding. As I look ahead to what lies in front of us, I know it might not be perfect, but what is anymore? The simple fact that I’ll marry my love and continue to travel the world with her after this is over, is what truly matters. Maybe things don’t come in threes? A perfect I love you and proposal are enough right? Maybe the imperfect wedding is actually just the right card to play? In a very odd way, maybe this makes the most sense?
So in this instance, on this all important Valentine’s Day, I celebrate my two loves. My love of my fiancé and my love of travel. Without travel, I’m unsure of how we would have ended up. Somewhere along that river in Paris, after a romantic boat cruise and dinner in front of the Eiffel Tower, when I said I love you for the first time, I knew this was the one. It could have been then or our ATV rides around Santorini or a trip to Vancouver, when she finally decided that I was the one. Who knows on that exact instant, but what I do know is that I have to celebrate travel. As without travel, I’m unsure of if I ever would have reached my destination of my fiancé. Even though it’s just one destination in many that we will have down the road, I’m thankful for my special Valentine’s.