Josh (Me) & Vanessa: Engaged!
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OK… I’ll try not to be too corny, but you know how much of a hopeless romantic I am.
Vanessa and I met a few years ago, in New York. She was visiting from Colombia, with mutual friends. We went to a party and danced.
She thought I was a nice guy, and a good dancer (her words) but nothing sparked.
We exchanged perhaps a handful of emails over the course of two years, just keeping in touch by a thread.
What always struck me is how she was always telling me about something new she was doing with her life; Learning new languages and teaching the Bible to people that lived in remote places… A dedicated and adventurous girl. Somebody special. Somebody beautiful. But still not somebody for me.
Unbeknownst to me, she had started following my artwork and pictures that I posted online, seeing deeper meaning in my photography and noticing an artistic heart, yet never commenting on how the pictures made her feel. She felt I was an artist with heart. I was somebody unique. But still not somebody for her. “Never!” she says. Thanks honey. 😉
September 2010. After visiting the states a few times and either just missing me, or seeing me for the better part of an hour, and after I missed her going-away party on the previous visit, she came to the U.S. on what was likely her final trip on an expiring travel visa. Out of all the people she could have seen on that trip, she asked me to meet her in Brooklyn. I’m sure glad about that.
It was just to say hi and hang out for an evening in Times Square. That evening led to an invite to a small party that weekend. That party led to a nice talk over pizza and chess, hanging out in my room. That night led to tickets to a live jazz club. That night led to a hug, a knot in my heart and a lump in my throat. We’re both still unclear on what exactly happened, but our two-year friendship had just turned into something more in the look of an eye and a brush of the hand.
She went home to Colombia, and I felt a very odd kind of lonely.
After a few weeks of talking about what we both wanted, and what-in-the-world-just-happened… we started dating on October 21st.
Despite being from different countries, cultures, and languages, our unplanned love grew into something truly special. Amazing.
11 days shy of a year from the day we started dating, I made a promise to love her for all my life. 10/10.
That’s the short version, anyway. Here’s what happened a few weeks ago:
Oh, but first, I wanna say one of the most wonderful things in life I can think of is just holding her delicate hand. It may seem simple, but it’s so full of meaning for me.
So! On the week that she came to visit, she knew that she would be getting a ring. I still had a chance to surprise her, as she didn’t know where or when. On her first night, we visited the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. We took a walk through Times Square, on the same route that we took a year ago when she last came. The glowing lights and warm electric air were unforgettable as ever.
We toured the Watchtower Educational Center (WEC) in Patterson NY, one of the beautiful upstate locations of the U.S. Bethel Branch of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Our religion, based on God’s love and Bible principles, the foremost of which is love, is a huge part of what unites Vanessa and I wholeheartedly. Despite our cultural differences, we both grew up according to the same standards, beliefs, and love of the same great God. The afternoon light pouring into the main lobby of the WEC was also exceptionally beautiful.
Throughout the day, I would take pictures of Vanessa, her Aunt and Mom around the beautifully landscaped grounds. Then, I would hand my camera to Vanessa’s Mom so she could take a picture of Vanessa and I in the same spot. This subconsciously accustomed her to using my camera! 😉
We spent a beautiful day together, meeting lots of friends and taking lots of pictures! We had been wanting new pictures together for so long!
At sunset, (after I very awkwardly delayed for time) we found ourselves at the pond facing the west hills. A warm breeze and golden light made everything perfect. As I had been doing all day, after taking a picture of Vanessa’s Aunt and Mother, I handed the camera to Vane’s Mom to take our picture in this idyllic spot, next to the tall reeds and the weeping willow tree.
The light and the mood were absolutely wonderful, but the most beautiful thing… was standing next to me.
After checking that everything was perfect in camera (Yep, still a photographer) I said that I wanted one more picture. Mom must’ve had some kind of intuition about the situation, since she just kept on clicking. I asked Vanessa if she liked this place. “Yes.” She replied.
“Did you have a nice day?”
“…Do you love me?”
“…What? Of course I do…” Vanessa started to sense I was being weird.
Before I could finish saying “Vane, I love you and want to be with you forev-” She realized what was happening and pulled me close, “Wait! Wait! I’m not ready! You’re gonna do it now??”
“Yes,” I said, reaching for the bag that I had been slipping my camera in and out of all day, “And I have one more thing in this bag…”
She was genuinely surprised and started to tear up. Mom says she started crying too, but kept taking pictures! That’s my kind of Mother in law.
(The photographer in me says “Arr, I left it on center auto focus” Haha. But these are still my favorite shots.”)
Now, although Vane had told me her size, like, three times, I guess the measurements in Colombia are a bit different than the U.S. It was a loose fit! Vane wanted to keep wearing the ring, but we didn’t wanna lose it! So she slipped it onto an adjacent finger that fit.
The last picture of the afternoon… and a photo I’ll always cherish to remember the day that a single word changed my whole universe: “Yes.”
I’ve been in another world ever since we got engaged, and I finally know the joy of the couples that I photograph, because now it’s happening to me! Wow, so this is what it’s like… We just can’t wait to start our lives together.
And yes, now the million dollar question everyone’s been asking…
“Josh, who’s gonna shoot your wedding???”
Jonathan Fleming, my cousin and photography mentor, took some wonderful engagement pictures of us, and you can see a preview here.
But… he’s my Best Man! So… Who wants to shoot a wedding with TWO wedding photographers in the party? No pressure. 😀
Anyway, love you Vanessa, my baby! Can’t wait to be with you forever. Muahhh!!! (Yeah, we’re mushy like that. And… I love it!!!)