Today, Andrew and I celebrate our 10th anniversary. It’s pretty incredible to think how far we’ve come in 10 years of marriage and 15 years together.
The story of us
For those of you who don’t already know, Andrew and I met at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I moved to Halifax to study journalism and Andrew was taking history. We were both enrolled in the Foundation Year Programme at Kings – better known as The History of Dead White Guys.
Andrew showed up on the second day of Frosh week (which I should have seen as a warning sign of the famous Matheson tardy gene.) We became friends right away, which is always an easy thing to do with Andrew. He is the most open and forward person I have ever met; Quite the opposite of my tendency to hide in the corner.
Four years of university flew by. I graduated from Journalism with combined honours in International Development studies (and now I blog and take pretty pictures for a living… I know.) Andrew changed his major to Computer Science and was already working full-time. Although there were some bumps along the road, I also graduated with an engagement ring on my finger.
Meeting Andrew, you may not guess that he has a flare for the dramatic, but he’s full of surprises. In 1999, my final year of university, I went home to Saint John to spend Christmas with my family. Andrew came to visit for New Year’s Eve. We went to a restaurant that overlooked the harbour. While the fireworks were exploding over the bay, Andrew pulled out a ring and proposed.
We decided to get married in May of 2000 and on a beautiful sunny spring day, we said “I do,” in front of our families and friends. Even then I had no inkling of what would lay ahead 10 years later.
Right from the start, I was pretty upfront about not wanting a normal life, although I’ll admit that like most young people I had no idea what I actually wanted. Even back then, I was pretty sure that having kids wasn’t in my future. I wasn’t interested in the huge house with the white picket fence and I had no interest in buying an SUV or a minivan. I also knew that I wanted to travel. I just didn’t know then how much that would come to rule our lives.
We started our travel adventures early. In my final year of university, Andrew bought a car. We spent our weekends exploring Nova Scotia and the rest of the Maritime Provinces. Sometimes we would pull out a map and pick a random place (usually one with a funny name). Other times we would just get in the car and pick roads to see where they went. Our passion for mystery drives was born.
Our honeymoon was a bit unconventional too. We decided to take a road trip to Pennsylvania Dutch country where we camped in a tiny tent and explored the countryside.
A year after we were married, we bought a house and got a dog. We weren’t even conventional about that. Our house was old and quirky and we loved it. Our dog was big and drooly and we loved him. Add to the mix the 4 cats we had acquired along the way and we were one big, happy, (furry) family.
Europe or bust
That same year we decided to make our first trip to Europe. Like most first-timers, we wanted to see everything and we had no idea where to start. We decided to do a 16 day bus tour with Contiki and man what a 16 days it was. We went to London, Amsterdam, Paris, Avignon, Nice, Monaco, Rome, Venice, Lucerne, Lyon and the Rhine Valley. We ate, we drank, we walked, we sang Karaoke, we saw everything we could and we slept very little. It was incredible. And I will never do it again.
But that was it – the start of the infatuation with Europe. Not long after, Andrew was sent to The Netherlands for work. The second time, he took me. It was love at first sight. When the opportunity came up to move to Amsterdam for 3 months, we pounced.
It was expat life with a safety net. Our expenses were all paid and we had our house to go back to at the end of it. I loved it. We explored the Netherlands as much as we could and we travelled to other places in Europe as well. As soon as it was over we were planning how to go back.
The rest is the history of CheeseWeb. A year to the day, we were flying back to Amsterdam with 4 cats and 4 suitcases in cargo. This time there was no safety net and no house to go back to. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done but I was doing it with my best friend.
Five years later and we have spent half of our married life as expats. It has been hard. It has tested us and tested our marriage. We’ve both changed and grown so much it’s almost amazing that this life has brought us even closer together. We are both more in touch with who we really are and what we really want out of life. It still doesn’t include picket fences and minivans.
We spend a ridiculous amount of time together, especially for two such opposite people. Andrew is analytical and technical while I function on gut feelings. I wear my heart on my sleeve while Andrew turns his emotions inward. Andrew is fearless and I’m afraid of everything. I’m organized to the point of obsession and Andrew would lose his arm if it wasn’t attached. But at the end of the day we make a great team. We balance each other. Despite our difference we have the same passion for exploration and discovery. We see the world through totally different eyes, but we both want to see more of the world.
Andrew is my strength. He pushes me when I’m too afraid to push myself. He is my stability when my emotions are running rampant. He is my sense of humour when I worry too much. Most of all he is my best friend, my partner on this amazing expat journey and the love of my life.
I have no idea where the next 10 years will take us but I wouldn’t want to spend it with anyone else.
Happy Ten Year Anniversary to my best friend and love, Andrew. XXX