Photographs are like reflections - they give us that special chance to look at who we are. Here are some photographs, and some brief reflections, on what Erin and I have decided was definitely the "Best Year of Our Lives".
One year ago today I suggested we take a look at the surf at my favorite place to surf in Pensacola, "the Cross". All part of the plan, it was here that I took a knee and asked the most incredible woman in the world to be mine forever. I'm not sure why, or how, but she said yes ... and the adventure officially began. Sure we had already set off to places like Puerto Rico, Machu Picchu, the Amazon; we had been to Dallas together twice for close friends' weddings; and we had spent a Spring Break and a couple weeks of summer in California with my family; but now we had taken the leap - made the promise to make the promise - and no surprise, it's only gotten better.
I have to admit those first couple of months could be a little scary at times (just kiddin' honey), but I learned that my greatest joys and most cherished moments would always be shared with Erin. Christmas and New Years with the Kinzer family was a blast, and my wife-to-be left no doubts as to her place in the family. Baja surf trips, border crossing haggling for cheap mexican wares, and quietly bringing in the New Year in the living room. As always, she was a big hit - sometimes I think they would have just traded me for her if they could.
We made a couple trips to Vanderbilt for some SEC football and basketball action, and Erin got to see my old college stomping grounds. We also made our second trip together down to Orlando for the Disney Marathon. I chased Erin around the park (I was in the car of course) to cheer her and the girls on. Nashville and Orlando were a lot of fun, but they cannot compare to the experience we had in Nicaragua. Whether it was playing with the kids at the orphanage ... working in the heat to help build the palapa ...
watching Erin's loving spirit as she served up food for the local people ... or just taking in the beautiful surroundings (read: waves) of this most inspiring country - we left Nicaragua changed as individuals and changed as a team.
The Spring Break trip to Nicaragua was amazing, but the best day of the past year - the best day of my life - came a couple of months later ... May 24, 2008. I walked out of the church that evening the happiest man in the world, and I haven't looked back. What a joyful day!!! I even snuck in a few waves with my Best Man (and little brother) and best friend Brian early that morning. It was the party of a lifetime, and I can't imagine celebrating anything more wonderful than the promise Erin and I made to each other that day and the hope and joy we have in our future together.
The party continued as we made our way to California to celebrate my little brother's (and Best Man's) high school graduation. He gives me and the whole family so many reasons to be proud of him. From there we were off on another globe-trotting expedition - Singapore and the Maldives for a Honeymoon that has to rank as one of the best ever.
I guess the Honeymoon isn't really over yet ... we enjoyed a week back in California for the 4th of July and then made our way to the island of Curacao. I never would have guessed just how unique and diverse this small Caribbean island is, and it seems as though every week I find another hidden treasure. Surprisingly, we had a few days of really good surf in early October, and when the waves died down we took the opportunity to learn how to windsurf.
Everytime I look underwater I find something new, and each week during our exploration of the island I make an unexpected discovery. Whether it's the beautiful view from the top of Sint Christoffelberg, the fact that Erin is the "fastest woman on Curacao" and has the 12 Km trophies to prove it, the beautiful cove called Boca Ascension where you can watch the Green Sea Turtles feeding in the rolling waves, or the stunning and humbling candlelit Yom Kippur service in the longest continually running Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere - this island is full of treasures.
I told my breathtakingly beautiful wife (I submit photo above if you need evidence) tonight that this year has been without a doubt the most magnificent of my life. She, despite the fact that I certainly have gotten the better deal, feels that this year is by far the best year of her own life. I should say that the "Best Year of My Life" award is not given out light-heartedly - we've both had some incredible years, and even before we met each other we agreed that we had enjoyed rather fantastic lives. This year has earned it. The amazing thing is, I fully expect that the next 12 months will be even better.