Our story and our elopement.
I wish I was good with words, because this story is so special and extensive that without being a good writer, I will never give it justice or be able to highlight all the magnificent details about why our love is so bold and so worth fighting for.
If you've ever read this blog post by my dear husband, David (read it here), you'll know why I've never tried to explain my side. David is SO eloquent with his writing. But my perspective of our story is a little different.
When I was 14 (yes, that young), I stumbled across David's flickr. A cute, blonde boy from Los Angeles. The literal opposite side of the world. He was 18 and was doing a 365 day project, as was I. We followed with each others work and were both incredibly invested into the community of flickr (which sadly no longer thrives) and I had never really thought too much about David as a person, but was always so mesmerized by his photographs. Until he hosted a print giveaway, in which I entered on August 23rd 2011 (exactly 6 years ago!) and commented my favorite images, with the caption below saying "you're so amazing". I know, a total charmer. But on entering this silly little print giveaway which became the best catalyst to us connecting, I looked through his photos to find my favorites to try and win as prints, and I quite literally fell in love with him. Yes. The personality of this photographer from the other side of the world came out through his photographs and I was absolutely in awe.
Not long later I received a Flickrmail from David telling me I'd won his print and to tell him where he should send my print. Only a couple years ago did I find out he "chose" me to win because he thought I was cute (maybe I should enter contests more often). He rigged his own giveaway to make a conversation with me, which turned into a conversation about photography, which turned into us both opening up our hearts to one another about our current life struggles and how he'd just broken up with his first girlfriend and how I was living through the remnants of a family separation. We connected. And we continued to communicate through Flickr for a couple years, until Facebook was on the radar, and we started adding our "internet friends" on Facebook which at the time was total taboo. I'll never forget the first time we spoke over the internet, we Skyped, alongside our lovely friends Ethan Coverstone and Brad Wagner. We all planned a photo collaboration about a deck of cards, and talked about my accent to 3 Americans, and we watched David eat soup online, and there was chemistry. From day one, there was always something about David and I was so drawn to him.
A few conversations into David and I chatting through mail, he suggested we send eachother letters. So I hurried to the shopping centre, bought the nicest mens shirt I could find, a guitar pick, sprayed my nice perfume all over the long letter I wrote him and added Christmas sweets into an envelope and shipped it to him. My excuse was, a christmas gift for my new "penpal". But really, I couldn't stop imagining the possibility of this dream human and I being together.
As I went through high school/college, I could never pursue a romantic relationship, not that I was ever really mature enough to, but there was this immensely strange timing of all of these letters that kept arriving at my door. David didn't send as many as I did, but just as I would start to give up hope of being with David someday and pursue another male in my life, a letter would arrive in the mail, or a book he sent me about timing and I would instantly know that I had to wait for the time to meet him. David's existence was a constant reminder to stay patient. A year or two into this crush, I woke up one morning with the verse Ecclesiastes 3:11 on my heart. And for years, all I could ever think about was this verse. "He has made everything beautiful in its time", I would murmur to myself as I walked to the bus to go to school.
As the years went on, the possibility of being with David felt less and less. He dated a couple of different girls and my heart could still not heal over him. I knew we would end up together someday but I couldn't help feeling like I was being crazy. David and I often discussed the possibilities of meeting, and discussed a Hawaii trip in December of 2014 that never happened, and he had plans to visit Australia for a workshop in October of 2015, so we knew it was bound to happen sometime soon. But I never knew if he had feelings for me too, I mean, we'd never met. I was crazy right?
I started bible college through my church in January of 2015 with the gut feeling that I was in the COMPLETE wrong place. I had just left home, was working 4 jobs and trying to be a photographer and was now scrambling to find myself. I prayed and spoke to friends and worked really hard and tried to figure out why I was feeling so misplaced. David sent me a giving key for my birthday in March that said "change" on it, and while he was in London, we started talking more. Actually, from the previous December, we were talking almost daily. We would go through phases of talking frequently and then not talking for months, but this had been the longest we'd stayed in touch for the entire time of our friendship. As David was boarding a plane from LAX to PDX I told him I was thinking about coming to visit him. We decided to pray about it. We didn't want to spoil the timing, because unless things were perfect, it would never work. I prayed one prayer, because although I had signs and confirmation on my end that it was the perfect time to visit him, I needed to know FOR SURE: "If this is the right timing, don't answer my prayer though me, answer it through DAVID".
When David arrived at his door in Portland to pick up his belongings and move to a new house, there was a package waiting at his door that had arrived a month prior. It was a collection of memorabilia from an Australian exhibition at a museum down in LA that a previous client had sent his out of the blue. This client had NO idea about me and the timing was perfect. Inside the package was a magazine from National Geographic that was about the movie "Tracks" and the first page said "A young woman makes a remarkable journey across a continent". It was about an Australian women who built up the courage to go on a solo journey across the plains of Australia. David had forgotten to tell me about this for a few days because he didn't think it was that important, but when he told me, I cried. That was my answer.
I booked my plane ticket to Portland a week later. It cost me $1286 (might be a couple dollars off I totally forget now!), which was the EXACT amount I had in a specific savings account that was meant for my travel to the US. Not a coincidence. I planned to spend 3 weeks in the US and ended up booking 7 weeks to Portland with no back up plan if David and I ended up hating each other. He lived in a community house and they were so excited for me to come and stay with them, and everyone was excited, and I told no one in Australia what was happening because I just had to trust that I was doing the right thing. No one else was going to believe my crazy story.
When I arrived in LAX, Ethan picked me up and we explored, I met David's family for dinner in Pasadena, and he send me off to the airport the next morning to go and see David. I was so nervous I could've cried. But I'd waited for this for years. I had no plan for what I was going to do if I had to leave Portland, because it never once crossed my mind that I'd need a plan. I knew this was it.
David picked me up at PDX alongside our friends Ethan Gulley and Rob Woodcox, with a bouquet of Kale and Sunflowers and a huge sign saying "FOUR YEARS" which was the time we'd been waiting for that one moment. He picked me up in his arms and my heart literally fluttered in ways I cannot ever explained, and we both knew in that moment that it would be impossible to ever leave one another's side.
We spent our first date in Mt Tabor having a peppermint tea in the fog, and he asked if he could kiss me and me being the total goofball that I am said "I didn't come all the way from Australia to say no!" and he kissed me. We then sat in a food cart pod and I tried my first authentic mexican lunch and we made it facebook official. Jokingly, a few years prior we were fake married on facebook, and yet here we were laughing about how we were REAL.
After 7 weeks of traveling and exploring (you can check out my earlier blog posts to read about all the crazy stuff we did), I said goodbye and endured the hardest 3 months apart from the man I just spent 7 weeks living side by side with.
We did long distance for 18-ish months. With 3 trips to the US and 3 to Australia, one in Vietnam and a little vacation in Canada, David and I were really for some stability and no more goodbyes. We spent an average of 6 weeks apart on each trip, and we both hustled SO hard to make up the money to see eachother again.
I spent almost half of that time doing long distance in the US. My work was flexible and I could also work remote, so I did. In April of 2016, David proposed to me on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia while we were road tripping to visit some close friends of ours. We started our fiance visa one month later when I surprised him in the US for our one year anniversary (I flew international without him knowing to come and surprise him, hardest secret I've ever had to keep).
Starting our visa process was difficult, but we were some of the luckiest people and it took only 3 months from application time to my approval. The average time is 7 months, and before we knew it, I was saying goodbye and packing suitcases to move across the world. It was the most difficult and also thrilling and beautiful thing I've ever done.
As a condition of our visa, we had to marry within 90 days of my entrance into the US. So we decided to "elope" to make it easier on everyone who wanted to be there. We couldn't bare the thought of people missing out because of the distance it was to travel from Australia to California, so we uninvited everyone and decided to marry in Joshua Tree, a place that we loved so dearly.
We said our vows under the desert sun, we took communion and danced to "Moon River", a song that we felt resonated so true to us and our lives together, I held a bouquet of native flowers that reminded me of home, we tattooed on our rings to prove our commitment, and we finally got to say goodbye to the distance for good.
Marrying David after the crazy life we've had together was the most sacred and beautiful thing in the world. Almost 9 months into marriage, and although we've had to fight hard for our love over the years with everything being against us, I would never ever choose anyone but him.
If you ever give up on love, don't. Not everyones story is like mine. I got married at 19 and moved countries after doing 2 years of BAD long distance. We almost gave up. We almost caved in and thought it wasn't worth it. Long distance does no lead to inevitable failure. Love is not impossible to find. David and I are not perfect for one another but no one is perfect for anyone, but we're so committed to loving the other person as best as we can and being the best spouse for one another, that nothing can stand in the way of that kind of love.
David, you're my person.
Here's a recap of our wedding day in pictures.