First of all I need to send out a huge THANK YOU to all of the fabulous people who sent in their amazing stories about love! It was truly wonderful just having the opportunity to read all your stories! It’s incredible and mighty inspiring to hear how people find their soul mates in this crazy world! Although I wish I could give out free photo sessions to everyone out there, and especially everyone who entered, I unfortunately can not. And trust me, this decision was not an easy one- I even had to create a pannel of readers because I couldn’t choose one on my own! It actually turns out neither could the pannel, so we chose two wonderful winners and I can’t wait to share their stories with you! And interestingly enough…they both have to do with flying….So with out further ado, I present to you February’s Month Of Love Story Contest winners below:
Kat & Powder: Hornets over Jacksonville
“I knew she was the one because she smelled like beef.”I recoiled in semi-embarrassment when my good friend Lee told me how Powder knew I was The One. Really? I thought. Beef? It actually was an accurate portrayal of our unique little story of Us. I met my boyfriend, Powder, at the Dallas-Fort Worth Air Show on April 24, 2010. His F/A-18 jet was on display for air show visitors and I was volunteering in the cheese steak booth to raise morale funds for the Navy Corpsman. At the time, Powder was living in Beaufort, South Carolina. I was a banking compliance consultant, living in Arlington, Virginia. He almost did not make the journey due to low fuel from having to avoid thunderstorms en route to Dallas-Fort Worth. My volunteering was a last minute visit to my sister’s duty station, in advance of a weeklong conference in Dallas. And for the first few months we knew one another, it was as innocent as a FaceBook friend request and emails of the Los Angeles Lakers (my home team!) originating from Minnesota (his home state!). Then, it followed with stronger nudges that our lives might actually cross paths again, from my work trip to Fargo, North Dakota (first off, who goes to Fargo? I do. And he went to North Dakota State) and my seeing Hornets (the jet he flies) over Jacksonville, FL (also prompting further communication between us). We also were the only known owners of the last 1997 Oldsmobile Regency and 88 models left on the planet.
We aren’t simply another journey of a long distance relationship, countless flights to-and-from DCA to CHS/SAV, or minutes turned into hours logged on FaceTime or Skype. Within the first few months of dating in 2011, Powder would deploy to the volatile Helmand province in Afghanistan for a seven month tour, boots on the ground, with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Division from Jacksonville, North Carolina. So, we knew would either have to make it or break it in every sense of the cliché. Through the seven month deployment, we revisited the old fashioned, time honored manner of courtship, writing snail mail letters to one another. And this, I believe, is the key to our sound partnership. We became friends, real legit best friends during the deployment, and that made us better partners in Life.
On August 8, 2011, Powder returned home from deployment, a few pounds lighter, but just as handsome as when he left. See, the before and after photos of the saddest day and happiest day of my 2011.
Now, he is assigned to VMFA 312 Squadron – Checkerboards, also home stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina. We take turns visiting one another and try to stay ahead of those long stretches of time where our schedules just do not coincide. We are complete opposites. I was born and raised on the coast of Southern California amidst surf boards and the best tacos north of the border. He was raised on a dairy farm in rural Minnesota. Where we don’t agree (e.g. politics, his jeans, and my fiery temper), we also our one another’s biggest fan (e.g. the opening night of my play “Noises Off” at LTA, his taco pie recipe, and the smallest of day-to-day win’s).
Because of the distance, things like pictures make a difference. It would be a great experience to capture the story of You & I in a formal photo session.
Andrea & Michael: “Love Filled Skies”
Some thirteen months ago, I was traveling for work from Phoenix to Washington, DC with a connection in Denver on Southwest Airlines. Little did I know as the chipper gate attendant scanned my boarding pass that I was enroute to meet the love of my life.
Though an average 5’6”, I often enjoy the luxury of the emergency exit row ready and willing to assist my fellow flyers if the need should arise. This December afternoon was no exception, and upon our arrival in Denver, I bid my departing row mates farewell. As I waited for the new passengers to board, several travelers seated in the rear of the plane moved about the cabin to stretch their legs. And that is when the destiny of open seating had it’s way.
A particularly handsome passenger approached my row intending to take advantage of the ample legroom, and rightfully so, as he was tall, dark… and bit a awkward. He placed his items in the aisle seat of my row, and we struck up a brief, random conversation about his tactical man purse and fire arms training…go figure! Dominos ensued when a boarding passenger inquired about Mr. Awkward’s coveted aisle seat, and he turned to me to ask where I was sitting. I quickly weighed my options and selected the window. Mr. Awkward looked at me, and with a smile said, “Then I’ll sit in the middle.”
Tired from a long work week, I had planned to stare out out the dusk-filled window and get caught up on some reading. However, I soon found myself enveloped in conversation with my tall, fellow fly-through. At first the conversation was strictly professional as we were both intrigued to find out that we worked in related fields. Me, a passionate advocate for an anti-human trafficking organization in DC, and he, a detective with a Northern Virginia law enforcement agency. Soon after a professional chat, we properly introduced ourselves, and topics naturally flowed from where we were grew up, to how we liked the DC area and what our favorite movies were. Before we knew it, three hours had past by, and we began our descent into Dulles.
Once we landed, Mr. Awkward A.K.A. Michael took me by surprise–he asked me to dinner and a movie! I had enjoyed talking about film with him, but his subtle and kind disposition appeared nonchalant, and I had no idea that our conversation would lead to him asking me out on a date. I had been completely oblivious to his interest in me! Surprised but excited, I accepted Michael’s offer. An appropriately awkward exit came next as we quickly scurried off the plane. Still a bit shocked, I bee-lined to ladies room to avoid sitting on the approaching tram with him and his co-workers.
Like an eager beaver, and within less than twelve hours, Michael promptly sent a follow-up email. Whoa! He was definitely interested! I played it cool and waited a day to reply. Then Monday morning came, and I shared the story of my Friday flight date with two female co-workers. Michael’s ears must have been burning with our giggles, because he called me right at that moment! He hadn’t received my email (which we blame his firewall for to this day) but thanks to his tenacious nature, we connected and set up a date for the following week. We have been together ever since. More than a year later, we have found true love and are engaged to be married in August 2012. We are even accenting our wedding with an airplane/travel theme to celebrate our meeting!
We are so grateful to Southwest for fostering love-filled skies that led my fiancé and I to one another. It wasn’t just the friendly flight attendants or tasty snacks, but the freedom to sit where love was calling that led Michael to me. It’s quite fitting that their logo is a heart with wings, because we found true love flying Southwest!
Congratulations to you two couples and everyone be sure to stay posted for some photos from their shoots as well as many more contests! I plan on having one every few months so be sure to keep an eye out- or you might miss your chance for a free session…..or maybe a free wedding!!