Big Sur was a place I had been hearing about all my life - I knew that there was a magical, winding drive that ended in a land of redwoods and cliff-sides, a few hours up the coast, but I had never seen it for myself.
Before we started dating, Brandon and I were casual friends for a couple of years. We are from the same home town, but met when I was already living in New York - through mutual friends when I came home for Christmas. The first chance we had to really hang out just the two of us, we connected immediately and had one wild November night in Brooklyn. We danced until the bars closed, watched the Manhattan skyline from the waterfront, and got tamales from the taco truck at 5AM, and the next day he flew back to his life in LA. We barely knew each other, but we planned a road trip up to Big Sur when I came home for Christmas the next month. I texted him saying "there's a 20% chance we'll end up hating each other", and he wrote me back "there's a 20% chance you'll fall in love with me." And he was right.
We finally made that drive, in Brandon's vintage convertible (he still misses this car every day), and I think we both somehow knew that this was the start of something big. We stopped for tacos, and for photos, and then for more tacos. We stayed in a little cabin and drank a bottle of wine by the fireplace. We stayed an extra night and barely made it back to Ventura for Christmas Eve dinners. A week later, before I flew back to New York, he told me that he was going to move to the city.
This year, Brandon surprised me the day after returning from Turks and Caicos with a surprise trip up here. I had no idea where we were going, but he told me to pack a bag and that we were leaving for the airport in an hour. He confiscated my phone, We flew up San Jose, and it wasn't until we got into the rental car and I looked around the maps that I realized where we were heading.
We drove straight down to Pfeiffer Beach - for actually the first time ever. On our first trip to Big Sur, it was closed due to a forest fire. On our second trip, it was mudslides. This time, we finally were able to see it for ourselves.
We walked down the beach and I stopped to collect a bag of the purple sand. We don't collect sand from everywhere we go, just the really special ones, our sand collection was one of the things I was saddest to lose when my house burned down last year - we had pink from Bermuda, orange from the Sahara, glass sand from Kauai, and pure black sand from Bali. We had purple sand from a different Big Sur beach from a few years ago, and I wanted to replace this one for our new collection. We sat down here, and right as Brandon was about to propose, a woman walking by stopped and said "you guys look so perfect sitting right here, do you want me to take your picture?" Almost like she knew! So thanks to her we actually have this one photo of us together, in our last few moment of being not-yet-engaged.
Before we got this crazy idea to turn our lives upside down, quit our jobs, and start our own business - we had gone to my favorite jewelry designer in New York to try on rings - close to 4 years ago now. Brandon designed the ring he gave me completely custom, based off some of the elements I liked from the rings we tried on, and some of his original ideas. I didn't know what I wanted exactly - just that it had to be rose gold and it had to be unique, and the ring Brandon created is perfect. Also, the main diamond is from the ring my mom wore when my parents were together, which makes it so much more special to me.
When we finally left the beach, we checked into Ventana Big Sur - a dream of a mountain cabin hotel that we had always wanted to see in person but never thought we would get the chance to. It was everything I imagined, and just so peaceful. I grew up camping in Central California, and the smell of redwoods and campfires triggers some of my happiest memories.
A cool foggy morning in an infinity thermal bath in the woods.
We hiked through the redwood forest.
And found this magical glamping site tucked into the woods.
We stayed offline for most of our time in Big Sur, just keeping this place special for the two of us without any distractions, and tried not to take too many photos, but we couldn't help taking a few of this incredible place. We share so much of our lives with the world, and I genuinely love doing it, but having a little break to be just us, to celebrate this moment, and the last almost 5 years of wild ups and downs and adventures to get here felt so right. Our relationship wasn't always easy - from the beginning, it was wild and full of huge changes. Right after we started dating, I was sick for months and spent a week in the hospital, Brandon flipped his life upside down and moved to New York - it wasn't simple or easy, but we fought for each other and we made it work, and built this incredible, beautiful life. I am so grateful for all the risks we took, and the decision we made together to put every ounce of time, focus, and money we had until seeing if we could photograph and film our way around the world. I am so grateful that this crazy idea has worked so far, and we have been able to build a business doing what we love. I'm so grateful that this boy from my hometown somehow became my person. Neither one of us could have accomplished anything close to what we have without each other.
Brandon first told me he wanted to marry me in February of 2014 (if you're counting, yes we had only been together for a couple of months at this point) and we talked about going down this path much earlier in our relationship - but there was so much more that we wanted to do first. Travel was such a huge part of our relationship from our very first trip to Big Sur, and we kept coming back to this Bill Murray quote I had found.
“If you have someone you think is the one, take them and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all over the world, to places that are hard to reach and hard to get out of. And when you land at JFK and you're still in love with that person, get married.”
And that is exactly what we've done so far - we've trekked across the Sahara on camels, stayed in $20/night hotels in Vietnam, and thousands-of-dollars a night suites in some of the most incredible hotels I had never even dared to dream of. We've flown on helicopters and seaplanes, had passports stolen abroad, been extorted and had to flee a country, been to hospitals in multiple countries, drove on terrifying mountain roads in rickshaws, and have been through 32 countries together so far. I don't see marriage as the beginning of our life together, our life together has already been wild and incredible and full of so many experiences - this is just the next adventure in hopefully 50 more years of them.
Before heading out, we made one final stop at the Henry Miller Memorial Library, a place we have talked about for a few years now.... and may become a very special place to us... say around September 2020? :-X