If you have been following along, you know who I am and you have read my wedding story, as seen in IDoWed Magazine.
Today, I am going to chat about investing in experiences, as we have, and our experiences as newlyweds.
Or, as I call us, Newlyfleds.
Before we were married, Jimmy and I had never been on an airplane together.
As of our first anniversary last month, we had taken 25 flights and 10 trans-Baltic ferries. Our actual anniversary was spent marveling at the jaw-dropping scenery along Norway’s Sognefiord, as we took a five-hour ferry from top to bottom.
It has truly been an incredible year and one unending adventure! And it all started on our wedding day, August 23, 2014.
Just three weeks before our wedding, Jimmy was given news that he would be moving to Helsinki, Finland just two days after we returned from our Tahitian honeymoon. He works in the IT business for a company that requires semi-frequent relocation, so we were anticipating a move at some point that autumn, but not Finland and certainly not that soon.
We looked at each other and said, “Why not?” We had no mortgage, no pets and virtually no furniture. Why not jump into this marriage thing with two feet? Why not leave your friends and family behind for a city that you couldn’t even find on a map? Why not go on a grand adventure with your life companion?
So we left our wedding gifts in their boxes and packed everything except 7 suitcases worth of clothing into a storage unit and boarded our first flight to Finland (I only wish I had packed our beautiful new knife set!). We lived in a hotel for a week, rented a furnished little apartment in the city, and set about making ourselves a home. Setting up a new life in a foreign city is one of the more difficult things we have done. As if being high school sweethearts wasn’t enough, living in a perpetual state of confusion really taught us a lot about each other. Nothing like a little trial by fire, right? But one year later, we are absolutely in love with this place and even more crazy about each other.
Helsinki is clean and safe; the people speak English willingly and better than some Americans; the winters are dark but the company is pretty darn good! We’ve taken last minute weekend trips to Tallinn, Estonia; spent Easter in Bavarian Castles and quaint medieval towns; long weekends found us wandering the canals of Amsterdam and the ornate mosques of Istanbul; we have been welcomed into Finnish summer cabins with hot saunas and placid lakes; we even walked through the drifting snow to see a ballet the great Marinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. We just returned from 5 days in Paris and are about to start packing for Barcelona to catch some final few warm sunny days before winter settles in here.
The best part is, we have done it all together.
Every month or so, we get to experience some of the wonders of the world, side by side. Lucky me, he is a pretty great travel buddy!
I think, unfortunately, that most people feel that their opportunities to travel end when they get married. That they have to buy a house and a dog and be settled. Certainly, Jimmy and I are in a unique situation, with Europe out our front door. However, this has been an experience that we hope will shape the rest of our lives. We will never stop exploring. We have a list of cities we want to visit in the US that is just as long as our European list. And for our first big number anniversary? South Eastern Asia might be calling our names.
When it all comes down to it, what we have left are our relationships and our experiences. Memories. For us and any couple, they are the greatest investment we can possibly make. I could get that big leather couch from Restoration Hardware or we could take a weekend trip together; those memories will last longer and enrich us more. We don’t buy each other birthday of Christmas gifts, we pick a spot on the map. Maybe it is a new restaurant in town, a cabin a few hours away or an entire new country. No matter what, it is always worth more than something in a box.
With every trip and every experience, I feel as though we get to fall in love a little bit more in a whole new way: we get to fall in love with a new little piece of this big world. We are us –the same two kids that spent their first date at high school homecoming- surrounded by nothing familiar except for each other. It is familiar and strange all at the same time.
Idaho is still our favorite place to visit. Both of our families are there, so it remains a home to us and we both love going back. (I had a meltdown in the airport this year when our flight home for the first time was majorly delayed –obviously, it is still my happy place!) For now, however, we love coming home to Helsinki. I love carrying my groceries back from the store. Jimmy loves walking to work. And we both love sitting on our rental couch with dinner from the tiny kitchen and slowly exhausting our Netflix options, especially after a few days of travel and adventure.
Marriage, itself, is a grand adventure. You are promising to go out into the world with this one person, to have and hold through it all. Every day is a new experience –from burning the chicken to shrinking the laundry, your first holiday to your thirtieth, babies and houses and vacations and compromises. Live and breathe and explore together. When we stood in front of a crowd of our friends and families and said our vows, we promised that we were up for it all. We had spent nine years in the comfort of each other’s company, but this was a whole new adventure. Lets do it! Lets get married and run off together. Lets learn to cope in a new city, in a new country, in an 800 square foot apartment where we know exactly no one. Lets learn how to make our home be anywhere. And lets go on some adventures!
In a very real sense, home is where ever we land together.
Jimmy and Amy Bertelsen met the first day of high school. They went to their freshman homecoming together and the rest is –more or less- history. Both are Boise natives and graduates of Bishop Kelly and the University of Utah (Go Utes!). Jimmy went on to become a software programmer for FAST Enterprises, which keeps them on their toes. Amy is building an online business as a graphic designer, so she can keep up with Jimmy’s relocations. They journal their adventures and tales of being newly displaced newlyweds on their blog www.newlyfleds.wordpress.com . Follow their most recent travels there!