My better half turned 30 yesterday.
I can only speak to 12 years of the 30, since that’s how long I’ve been around for the ride.
Specifically the last decade has been an unexpected adventure for us. I’ll skip the first 3 years of cheesy high school love, filled with Prom dates and football lights.
Yes, he’s had my heart since we were teenagers, but our relationship has changed drastically over the years and we are both completely different people than who we started dating 12 years ago (thankfully!)
Recently, while talking about his 30th he looked at me and asked, “have I done enough?”
I had to roll my eyes and laugh.
Our wanderlust started at the young age of 21 with our study abroad in Maastricht, Netherlands where we traveled across Europe with a group of friends. Josh ran with the bulls in Spain, watched the Tour de France from the Champs-Elysees, White water rafted through the Swiss Alps, drank beer at Hofbrauhaus in Munich and indulged in pasta in Italy. We traveled fast, and we left a lot of cities unexplored so needless to say we will be back. From that point forward, our story that we have continued to write has been focused on travel and experiences. Our priorities are new places, not new things.
This is when our relationship changed course. We were bitten by the travel bug as they say, and we knew we had a future of exploring. We made a silent agreement to get out from our bubble at home and experience all that the world has to offer. Embrace the different cultures and stay curious about what else is out there.
We followed up graduation with a June wedding. We said our I do’s, I fainted at the altar (yes, I was the fainting bride) and we danced into the night with our friends and family. We got married young. We had been dating for 5 years and were ready to start the next chapter. We weren’t naive. We knew we would change a lot in the next few years, but we were determined to change together and do life hand in hand, which is exactly what we did.
After the wedding we jetsetted off to St Maarten in a villa for our honeymoon (I’ll save y’all the details…) Returning home, we moved that week to Chicago. The big city welcomed us with a tiny apartment and expensive rent. We were surrounded by delicious restaurants, a big group of our friends and a full social schedule.
For the next three years we got caught up in corporate America. Josh passed the CPA exam, worked for a top big 4 consulting firm and found himself flying weekly to a different state, living in a hotel Monday – Friday. This was far from the adventure lifestyle we had imagined.
During these years we took a small jaunt to Costa Rica for a few weeks where we ziplined through the Monteverde Cloud Forest and kayaked below the Arenal Volcano, all while driving ourselves all over the country in a very old rickety car.
We spent the week snowboarding in Breckenridge, still one of my all time favorite places. This is where he attempted to teach me to snowboard for the first time. Let’s just say it ended with a lot of yelling down a mountain, in a heavy snowstorm and with me sitting in the snow on top of that mountain insisting “I am not moving, I am going to sit here and enjoy the view until I am ready to move again”. True story. We learned during that trip that it is worth the money to pay professionals when one of us wants to learn a new skill.
We trained for and finished the Chicago Marathon, in addition to a few half marathons over the years.
O yeah, and spent a few weeks in Hawaii hopping from island to island… I love everything about this place.
These short trips were great, and they kept our travel tank fueled, but it wasn’t ever filled. We wanted more.
We finally decided to check off our “before 30” bucket list by quitting our jobs at the age of 26 and buying a one way ticket to Hong Kong and traveling around the world for 18 months.
An important side note: the Josh I married would never have agreed to this insane idea of losing our insurance and income for an unknown travel plan. This shows how much he changed over even these short years. His comfort with risk and adventure grew and together we learned to trust our skills and that there was a plan that we just couldn’t see.
We bussed, trained and motorbiked across SE Asia. We learned a lot about ourselves in these 6 months. We learned how much we could live without, the beauty in simplifying our lives and slowing down the pace. We saw the good and the bad… and the worst in each other. You don’t travel with someone else for a long-term trip without fighting (a lot), but you learn to get over things quickly. You learn what a real fight is, and the stupid arguments that aren’t worth your time. Our relationship was bumped to another level, and we grew stronger every day we traveled together.
Did I mention during these first 6 months he didn’t get a haircut? His way of saying screw it to corporate lifestyle.
Our next adventure took us to South Africa and within one day he had taught himself to drive a stick shift truck through 3 feet of sand, while reversing from a charging elephant. OK, the charging elephant didn’t happen for another few weeks, but it was terrifying. We saw our first herd of 40 wild elephants walk only feet in front of our car and this was probably the first time we actually feared for our life. This is the moment when I realized how much I trusted him. I knew I trusted him before this, but it was in this month, when it was just him and I, no cell phones, no GPS, no internet…only wild animals, that I realized how much I trusted him with my everything.
South Africa is still one of our greatest memories in our bucket, it will be hard to beat this trip. It was just us for the month. We spent all day driving in the car in search of wildlife, and all night sitting under the stars dreaming together. Shutting out the noise is something we don’t do enough and when we remember the peace and clarity it brought on this trip makes us want more of this.
After falling in love with paella in Spain and the quirky city of Barcelona, We ended up renting an apartment in Buenos Aires for a month and took Spanish lessons. We hiked the Andes mountains in Chile, We flew into the middle of the ocean and spent time on Easter Island. This was Josh’s part of our trip. Out of all of the destinations we visited, he insisted on going to Easter Island and I am so glad he did.
We snorkeled with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands and spent a week seeing endemic species that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. We camped and hiked for a week to Machu Picchu climbing to over 14,000 feet in one day. We spent a week surviving the Amazon (I don’t think I would have survived without our guide). We hiked deep in the Amazon, fished for our lunch and dinner and then helped create a fire to cook the fish over and eat. These moments make you pause. They are once in a lifetime moments that we still look back in disbelief of what we did. Who were those people who took on the world so fearlessly?
This is still only 6 years into the last decade.
Back in the US, we weren’t ready to quit the nomadic lifestyle yet. We spent a month in Hawaii, learning to surf and relaxing on the beach with friends. Luckily Josh was up for last minute plans when we got the opportunity to housesit on a 20 acre ranch in California. The next three months were spent in a cabin deep in the Sierra Nevadas, 1 hour away from the closest grocery store. We woke up every morning and drank our coffee while overlooking the mountains and pet sat for 2 horses, 4 dogs and 2 cats. Josh was at home here. The mountains are his happy place and you could tell he would be content with never leaving that small ranch… except they had really slow internet. As much as we love nature and the great outdoors, we also both work from our computers and love fast internet. So we ended the housesit early letting a few of our friends take over while we headed for bigger cities and faster WIFI.
Back home we shifted focus from traveling from place to place and settled down for a bit to work on building our businesses. Within a few months Josh has met the great team at Reaktiv Studios and joined on as a partner. He was back to the grind, working hard but with projects that interested him. He was learning new things every day and being challenged again.
O yeah, did I mention we found out we were pregnant this year?
27 was spent reconnecting with the relationships we had lost touch with while we were traveling. One major lesson we learned through all of our travels is that at the end of the day the people who you are surrounded with matter the most. The friends and family that support you are priceless, and for 18 months we had taken ourselves out of life back home. We didn’t completely stop traveling, where is the fun in that 🙂 We attended a handful of conferences in San Francisco, Portland and Toronto. We celebrated Halloween in New York City and took a babymoon on a week long cruise and spent another week beachside in the Bahamas. We had rented an apartment again and bought a car, but our feet were still itching (and always will) to travel.
28 was a blur of new parenthood. The chaos was compiled with the sleepless nights. Our daily adventure usually involved the couch and our new squishy baby cuddled up to one of us every night. Our wanderlust was sidelined for our greatest accomplishment of this past decade. More than traveling around the world, and the foods we ate and cultures we interacted with, we had brought the sweetest baby girl into this world and she was a part of us. This was to date the best miracle we had seen and knew right away the biggest adventure we would ever undertake.
So here we are, 29, pregnant again and looking to the future with a big (exciting) unknown.
Josh, I’d Say You Did Enough.
You keep me on my toes. You stole my heart 12 years ago. We’ve had more than our share of adventures together. You are the calm to my crazy. The logic to my emotion. The salty to my sweet. Life is better because we are doing it together.