When Chad and I first met, he had this old, forest green Jeep Cherokee. The seat belts had been chewed by our dog, the exterior was banged up from rallying off-road and the headlights only worked if you held the highbeams on when you drove. But I loved that thing. I loved that it took us on our first weekend trip to the mountains, I loved that it had so many of his memories ground into the seats, I loved that it took us everywhere those first two years. It was the first "new" vehicle he ever had. He bought it when he was 21 and newly healthy. It was his new beginning, his access to adventure with his dog Kaz at his side. You could feel the freedom in it whenever we were on the road to somewhere else. That Jeep drove him to me when we met for the first time. It was loud and my parents knew I was home every time he dropped me off. That Jeep helped us fall in love, quickly and completely, driving around BC, exploring and deciding in those first 3 weeks marriage was the next adventure we wanted to pursue.
That Jeep got Chad to our wedding ceremony on time. It didn't get him there unscathed. He had a fat lip from playing "touch" football that morning. Of all the guys who played that day he was the only one with a visible injury. And I still remember him phoning my mom, a few hours before our ceremony, to ask if I was still coming and to just let me know he had a small injury on his face. His lip was FAT and tasted bloody when we finally kissed as husband and wife. But here's the thing- I probably shouldn't even tell you this, but we didn't have a professional photographer. My very creative and talented friend took photos for us. But she wasn't a professional. She didn't know how to capture the details of the day the way someone who has experience with weddings can do. So we don't have images of that football game that left him husband with a puffy lip, or shots of our friends and family laughing at my best friend's speech when she uncovered the fact that I had compared Chad to Adam Levine when I was trying to describe him (poorly) to her for the first time. We don't have photos of my wedding dress, covered in red wine and dirt from dancing barefoot all night and our friends accidentally spilling their glasses when they hugged me in a grand gesture of happiness. It is the only regret I have about our wedding day. But I was 22, there were no wedding blogs or pinterest to let me know about these things, and I had no idea that photography would one day be my career path. Now when I talk to potential clients I want to tell them about this regret, remind them that memories will fade and your kids will ask to see pictures but if you don't have the whole story there, it's hard to fill in the blanks. Time creeps in slowly and each chapter builds on the one before. Photos are proof of those chapters gone by, those building blocks of your love and struggles and successes.
The day after our wedding, I threw my dress into the back, crumpled and stained and drove back to our teeny tiny garden shed home. We were heading out the next day on our honeymoon down the 101, but we couldn't take the Jeep because it was no longer the highway driving vehicle we needed.
When it was time to trade it in, we had to restart it 3 times on the way to the dealership. We coasted that thing in on fumes, coughing and sputtering, plastered in mud. We were both sad to see it go, the metal box that had chauffeured us around for some many firsts. I still wish I had photos of us in that thing, those two babies embarking on a new path together.
We are weeks away from our 10-year anniversary and lately I've been thinking about those 2 kids, the self-proclaimed gypsy who would never get married and the adrenaline-seeking dude with the shaggy mutt. 10 years later we are in the semi-robotic state that comes with two littles, a heavier workload and building a new house up in the mountains. We are in a season of self-imposed chaos, hard work, blood, sweat and tears. It is a beautiful and challenging kind of time, one we wonder about out loud when our bones and brains are oh so tired. But whenever I see a forest green Jeep, I know we're still those kids looking for an adventure. Only now we are breaking our own trail. We are building more than a house, more than a business, we are building our life, creating foundation for our kids and ourselves. I make a point now to document where we're at. I think the word capturing doesn't tell the whole story of what a photo does. I think it instead preserves the moment, holds it for us to share with our future selves, to remind us where we came from. We came from a place of sleeping in an old Jeep, ripe with our dreams and now 10 years later we are building on those dreams.