IT'S A LOVE STORY, SHE SAID YES
written by Mike, edited by Jess
Our first home/roof on H St!
Spring 2011 @ Virginia Tech
On a brisk spring day in Blacksburg, VA, Mike nervously walked into the Squires Student Center looking for someone he’d never met. Jess was already a brother of Delta Sigma Pi and as part of the pledging process, Mike was obligated to interview all the members of the fraternity. He didn’t know what to expect as they sat down over a bowl of ABP Mac & Cheese, but what happened was an easy and fun conversation that Mike still has his notes from. Among the topics of conversation was that Jess had been to Harry Potter World, discovering a love for the Harry Potter series which Mike & Jess still bond over today and quote almost daily. On any given day you might get lucky enough to hear Jess shout “Anything from the Trolley!!” or Mike shout “Not me, Not Hermione, You” done in terrific English accents of course. This conversation would be the first of many shared over a meal, but in the end they would have to wait until after college for their love to truly spark.
April 2018 @ Nationals Park
After college, Mike & Jess began “adulting” with Jess moving to Arlington, VA to begin her career at Deloitte and Mike moving to Miami, FL to begin his career as a Consultant. After a few years of the phase they refer to lovingly as "College 2.0", Mike got a job at Deloitte and decided that a move back to DC would be wise with his new job. The universe had now placed them at the same company in the same city and as luck would have it, both single on the 28th of April when they ventured separately to Nationals Park.
Mike spotted Jess carrying a Shake Shack burger and beer and thought to himself "wow what a beautiful sight". She invited him to come hang out while they ate and to her surprise he did! They talked for hours, Jess was headed to Barcelona soon, which is where Mike had studied abroad during college and Mike loved giving recommendations of places to go and foods to try while there. After the game ended they didn’t want to part and Mike invited Jess to come get drinks (college 2.5 at this point?) and she eagerly accepted. The crush led to a late night bar called Kiss Lounge where Mike and Jess ballroom danced to rap music with ease and laughed well into the night with their friends. They were enchanted with each other and by the end of the night they did as you do at a place called Kiss Lounge and ended the night with a kiss.
May 2018 @ Boston, MA
Our first trip together
Mike was now a full-time traveling consultant working at a client in New Jersey every week. Jess and Mike had now gone on a couple dates, but mostly they just snapchatted every detail of their day to each other and sent funny gifs back and forth. Ah, modern romance. Mike knew at this point he needed to take things to the next level and made the bold decision to invite Jess on a weekend trip up to Boston to watch his cousin Lucas play in the Lacrosse National Championship. Jess thankfully said yes and hopped on the Amtrak up to Boston. Mike jumped on in New York and their first trip together had officially begun. Jess and Mike soon realized they shared a love that would quite literally fuel their relationship, food! They ate their way through Boston together, visiting Fanuiel Hall for Lobster Rolls, Little Italy for fresh oysters, pasta, and Jess’s first Cannoli! They went to Fenway Park for a game, saw the sights, laughed, and Jess got to meet her first members of the Family as we watched Lucas win the National Championship! Mike asked Jess to be his girlfriend, and Jess said maybe…but changed her mind shortly after and the two became inseparable.
December 2018 @ Thailand
Our first international trip together
After the successful first trip, things escalated quickly and they planned a week and a half long excursion across Asia. This also coincided with the start of @DCBucketlister, an instagram page they dedicated to following their foodie adventures, and what better part of the world to document! Their whirlwind of a trip started in Tokyo, where they stayed up late dancing, singing karaoke to each other in a tiny room, drinking hot coffee in a can from a vending machine, visiting temples, drinking tea at a hedgehog café, staying in a traditional Japanese hotel where they slept on a pad on the ground, and of course ate all the sushi and ramen their hearts could desire!
This was followed by a day layover in Hong Kong where they basically just did their best Anthony Bourdain impression for 24 hours, and then culminated with a visit to Thailand to see their mutual friends Dave and Kristen who were teaching English in a small Thai village. Jess and Mike learned how to cook Thai food together, went to an elephant sanctuary, and had a blast roaming around night markets with their friends who regaled us of their time abroad. There was also the infamous pink scooter incident of Chang Rai, if you don’t know the story, it’s a wild ride #slowonthethrottle.
Summer 2019 @ Washington, DC
We move into together!
After Thailand, Jess and Mike knew that this relationship was something special and decided to move in together in DC. They got a spot together on H street, which is right near…you guessed it, some of the best food in town, and began exploring life living together. Strangely, although they had moved into their first home together, it hardly felt like it due to a demanding travel schedule with Jess traveling to Tampa weekly and Mike traveling to Little Rock, Arkansas bi-weekly. They felt more physically distanced than ever and Jess once used the phrase “we’re ships passing in the night”. Very poetic. So, their solution was they needed to take a vacation and spend some true quality time together, which happens to be Jess’s love language. In the winter of 2019, luckily right before COVID-19 derailed all travel, they were off to Portugal. In one of their most romantic and fun adventures yet, they stayed in a Wine Barrel hotel in the Douro River Valley, aka literally slept in a human sized wine barrel in the hills of Portugese wine country - highly recommend to anyone planning a trip to Portugal!
After another incredible foodie excursion in Lisbon, Porto, and Sintra their groove was back and they were ready to take on the world.
March 2020 @ Washington, DC
The COVID "nesting" era
For those that never were able to visit, Mike and Jess lived in a tiny 575 sq. ft. apartment. When travel first halted unexpectedly, they were ecstatic. Lock us in our tiny house, fine! Finally some uninterrupted time to spend together, they cooked, danced, binge watched shows (shoutout Tiger King, Love is Blind, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), and re-decorated. They finally felt at home. Of course, COVID-19 has been devastating, but they looked on the bright side and took advantage of the closeness that their unique scenario offered. Speaking of closeness, as time wore on, you can imagine that living and working with your partner in 575 sq feet led to lots of... learning opportunities (as they call it at Deloitte). But above all, they learned they could endure anything together and worked through every problem that arose as a team. They adapted, grew closer, and Mike knew, as if he didn’t know already, that he could easily spend the rest of his life with Jess. He worked up the courage to figure out how to buy a ring, another fiasco of a story that they will gladly tell you if you ask, and called in some favors from Shake Shack which led us to...
written by Jess
It’s no secret that I love Valentine’s Day. I had a feeling Mike was planning something special when he suggested we go to a winery Saturday, February 13th, but I could never have anticipated what was in store. Early that week he gasped when he received an email from Shake Shack. He previously worked with a Senior Manager, an avid foodie who worked on the Shake Shack Workday implementation, who forwarded him an email from their marketing department asking if he knew of any DC-based volunteers who may be interested in “hand modeling” burgers in front of the National Monuments for a President’s Day promotion (President’s Day falling on February 15th this year). The email claimed his friend had thought of us immediately, and Mike eagerly showed it to me asking if we wanted in. “Is it going to interfere with the winery reservations?” I asked anxiously. He said the reservations weren’t until 1pm and the shoot was in the morning so the timing actually worked out perfectly. I agreed, signed the (fake) photo release form, and of course rushed to the nail salon to be ready for my hand’s close-up.
I woke up the morning of February 13th to Mike telling me he had to run to Giant. I asked him to pick up some toothpaste while he was out, and I later learned he was actually picking up the ring from his parents in Giant’s parking garage. (Fun fact: Mike saw the finished ring for the first time in the toothpaste aisle of Giant - Crest’s sparkling ads had some competition). It was interesting luck that the day was one of the coldest of the year, hovering in the 20s yet somehow raining/sleeting rather than snowing. “I feel like this shoot won’t take the entire 30 minutes,” I wondered aloud, “Do you think the roads will be okay to get to the winery?”. Mike assured me we would be fine and we ventured into the rain to see 3 smiling people under umbrellas at the base of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, 2 photographers and a Shake Shack employee. I thought everyone seemed a little too excited to be hanging out in the freezing rain but I figured they just really loved Shake Shack. They directed me to hold the Shake Shack bag and look out to the Washington Monument with my head on Mike’s shoulder. Then they asked us to face away from each other and I was careful to make sure the bag was facing out so they would get a good shot. When they asked us to turn towards each other, my jaw dropped and Mike was down on one knee! An emotional photoshoot distracted me from another surprise as both of our families were descending down the Lincoln Memorial steps. It was a day we will never forget. I of course said Yes and that brings us to where we are today, CrossKeys Vineyards with all of you ready to say I do. (P.S. The winery was a ruse :D )