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Our Story

Though we have a lot of things in common, world travel and the thrill of experiencing new places is one common thread that weaves in and out of both of our pasts, has helped shape us into who we are, and continues to affect where we see ourselves in the future.  And, more importantly, it was a serendipitous zigzag of world travel that actually brought us together in the first place…

The beginning…

Even from the beginning, our family members and family friends fostered in both of us a keen interest in traveling the globe.  Jamie’s family history jumps from Europe, to China, to America, to Brazil, and back to America, gathering friends from all over the world that Jamie knew as a child.  Following somewhat of a family tradition, Jamie spent several months living in France with friends of his French grandmother while he was in junior high.

At about the same time, Katie’s family hosted exchange students several consecutive summers from France, Spain, and Japan, exposing her to international cultures, languages, and candy.  She also travelled the world virtually (which is pretty much the same, right?), playing her favorite video games “Mario is Missing” on Super Nintendo and “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? “ on the computer with her cousin.

Jamie graduated from Piedmont High School in 2003 and went off to UC Davis to study Engineering, switched to Business, but then finally stuck with Civil Engineering.  Katie graduated from Redlands East Valley High School the same year and went off to study Biopsychology and French at UC Santa Barbara.

Eager to push the limits of the newly gained independence that college students often feel, Katie took off for France the summer after her freshman year to spend the next 10 months studying abroad in Bordeaux and gallivanting throughout Europe.  She learned as much about herself as she did the French language (probably more), and has always felt that it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.  A huge part of her experience in France was galvanizing friendships with a wonderful group of fellow UC students studying abroad, including Lianne, Liz, Tracy, Tasha and… Lisa.

Lisa graduated from college the following year and decided to take a celebratory trip abroad to South East Asia.  She sent out an e-mail to friends and family detailing her plans and extending an invitation to those who may be interested.  Some were.  Still itching from the travel bug they caught together in Bordeaux, Katie and Liz signed up.  Lisa’s brother, Jamie, also found it to be an opportunity too good to pass up, and so took a quarter off from school for the trip.

Turns out, it was a good idea.

First time we met…

The beginning of 2006 found us each prepping for the 2-3 month trip coming up that spring.  Just after her 21st birthday, Katie took a trip up to Davis to visit her friends from Bordeaux, Lianne and Tracy.  As it turned out, Lianne and Tracy lived in the same apartment complex as Jamie.  Inspired by the fact that we were about to embark on a trip during which we would spend every waking moment together and hadn’t even met yet, Lianne invited Jamie over to a party at her house so that he and Katie could be introduced.

Jamie came over.  We met.  We talked.  Jamie serenaded her with a borrowed guitar.  Katie liked the way he said her name.

Katie went home to Santa Barbara and stalked Jamie on Facebook.

Southeast Asia

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Traveling with another person while in a developing country (or any country for that matter) is a crash course in getting to know who they really are.  You get to know each other really well, really fast.

Turns out, we liked what we found.

Well, Katie did, right from the beginning of the trip.  And she used up all of her favorite classic pick-up lines on Jamie.  He took a little longer to cave, but with the romance of the white sand beaches, crystal blue waters, and the glistening skin caused by layers of sunscreen and bug spray, he couldn’t hold out forever.  The chemistry between us was practically tangible and absolutely undeniable.  Even when Liz and Lisa would tease Katie about it, (Lisa: “So have you made out with my brother yet?”) all she could really do was shake her head unconvincingly, blush like crazy, and run away.

But it wasn’t until more than halfway through the trip that anything really happened between us.  After a particularly unsettling nighttime dive, where Katie’s buoyancy was off and she couldn’t see where she was going, and Jamie had to hold her hand to get her through it, the two of us went for a drink afterward.  On our way back to the beach huts (Liz and Lisa had already gone to bed), Katie decided enough was enough.  The combination of underwater handholding, failed pick-up lines, and a glass or two of wine- Katie couldn’t take it anymore.  She stopped Jamie on the road, turned to Jamie, and asked, “Are you going to kiss me now, or what?”  And he did.

Long distance…

Although neither of us were particularly ecstatic about the idea of a long distance relationship (Santa Barbara to Davis = 6 hour drive), we decided that we would rather try and have it not work out than simply not try at all.

Beach bonfire in Santa Barbara, 2006

Turns out, that was a good idea.

Katie racked up miles on her car, pushed the limits of sleep-driving and we started a love-garden in our plot in the community gardens.  Jamie serenaded her with his own guitar.

After Katie graduated from UCSB in 2007, we took a summer trip to Central America with JackRyan and Lisa, then a cross-country road trip to move Katie to New Orleans to start her Master’s program at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Jamie went back to Davis to start his super senior year.  Within a few short days, we turned our 6 hour drive apart into a 6 hour flight apart (or 37 hour drive).

In 2008, Jamie started his Master’s program in Water Resources in the Civil Engineering Department at UCD.

We became experts on finding travel deals and finagling school schedules.  We got to see each other every few weeks when we were lucky, for action-packed weekends of Jazz festivals or Mardi Gras.  We counted down the days until spring break and Christmas break, as these were the few times we’d have more than 72 hours together.

And we did that for 2 years…

It wasn’t easy, and for a while in the middle of it, there wasn’t a clear end to the long-distance in sight, which was frustrating.  We even broke up for a few months.  But we got back together.

Turns out, getting back together was a good idea.

Same zip code…

Finally, Katie graduated in May of 2009 and the two of us went to Sierra Leone for the summer together as part of a team working on an education laptop project with One Laptop Per Child. When we got back, Katie moved up to Davis and we moved into a cute 1930’s house downtown.

For the first time in our entire 3+ year relationship, we finally lived in the same zip code.  We get to see each other every day.

Turns out, living in the same place, that was a good idea, too.

Now, Jamie is graduating with his Master’s in June, we are gettin’ hitched in July, and afterwards we are hoping to move abroad for a few years to work in the field of international development.  We’re not really sure when and where we are going yet- it depends on what kind of jobs we can find (we’re in the middle of that job search right now).

But where ever it is that we end up at the end of the summer… it’ll be as husband and wife!


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