James and I currently live and teach in Rome, Italy. He has Italian ancestry, and a few years ago we traveled through Italy. I fell in love with the food, the culture, the language, the beauty. Italy has a way of grabbing your heart and captivating your soul...leaving you dreaming of it long after you’ve left. We planned a seven week trip through Italy for our honeymoon. Planning a marriage really caused me to do some soul searching, especially regarding what James and I wanted out of life - experiences, adventure, memories around the world. A few weeks before we got married, I accepted a job in Rome. A few weeks after we got married, James too accepted a job. We cancelled our honeymoon, took a leap of faith, and arrived on our one-way ticket to Italy in August.
Where are you from and where is your significant other from?
James grew up in Delaware, whereas I grew up in Pennsylvania. Shortly after graduating from Penn State, I accepted a teaching job and moved to Delaware to live and teach near the beach. We ended up getting hired at the same school district at the same time, but that is only the beginning of our love story...
Where and when did you meet him?
Our first interaction was, I kid you not, me showing James my pen collection. We both were teaching at summer school and he needed a colored pen and wandered into my room. Being the elementary school teacher that I am, I opened my pencil case and let him choose. Again...still not how we met, officially! I did think he was super cute though. Throughout the summer I would pass him running on the boardwalk or walking through town. I remember one time I said hi to him as we passed each other, to which I received no response. I figured he didn’t know who I was and/or wasn’t interested!
Our official meeting would happen several months later, thanks to one of my first grade students. (Backstory: When I moved to Delaware, I didn’t know anyone. I lived by myself!) It was my second year of teaching, circa 2012, and I was teaching a social studies lesson on scheduling to my little firsities. I was modeling a lesson where they had to write what they did after school and with whom they did these activities. For me, everything was done by myself. This was VERY concerning to a roomful of six and seven year olds. I remember one little boy even telling me I need to get myself to the husband store!
Little did I know that behind the scenes, one first grade girl was playing matchmaker. Her mom worked at the high school, where James taught. So after school, this little girl would talk to the male teachers about her “princess teacher.” At parent teacher conferences, her mom filled me in on what was going. Her daughter was particularly interested in setting me up with a teacher named “Mr. Overstreet.” The name rang a bell, so I did what any curious millennial would do -I hopped on Facebook.
Sure enough, it was the pen-borrowing, boardwalk running guy I had been crossing paths with for over a year. So I poured myself a glass of wine and sent a friend request! He accepted a few days later, and sent me a message asking if the first grade girl was in my class.
What was your first impression of him?
We exchanged a few messages on Facebook, and then our numbers. We spent the whole weekend texting and decided to get together. We lived literally a half mile away from each other! James's car was in the shop for our first date, so I drove. He was teaching driver’s education at the time and I remember being so nervous I hit the curb (repeatedly) when I tried to park! After our initial hang out, we were inseparable. We actually became incredibly close friends, hanging out nearly every weekend and most weeknights! We would stay up talking about everything under the sun. There were never any games, it just felt natural.
Dish on the first kiss.
I’m a hopeless romantic (which is why I love this series Jasmine does!) and our first kiss was straight out of a movie. After several weeks of hanging out, it still hadn’t happened. After a Saturday evening together, he dropped me back off at my apartment. I thought for SURE this was the night - but no! After I got into my apartment, I stood behind the closed door for a moment blissfully happy but also confused. I got a text from him a few moments later that said “Come back down quick, you forgot something!” My heart fluttered in my chest and I rushed back down the stairs. James was standing on the sidewalk with a smile on his face. It started to gently rain. In one of my more courageous acts, I walked up to him, threw my arms around his neck and kissed him! It was literally perfect.
How did you know it was LOVE?
I think my heart knew it was love before my mind did. I truly believe our souls were meant to be together. I wasn’t looking for love, it found me. They say when you know, you know. I couldn’t agree more. I remember just being out with a group of friends, looking at him across the room smiling and laughing and thinking to myself, “I love this man so much.”
What's the one thing you love most about your significant other?
I don’t think I could list just one thing I love about James! I love everything about him. His heart, his playfulness, how genuine he is, his positive attitude...the list goes on. He has truly blessed me with a lifetime of adventures.
How did he propose?
It was the last night of summer before we returned to work. It was a perfect August evening, but I was feeling pretty mellow about returning to work. We were walking along the canal as the sun was about to set, with a plan to grab some ice cream - a fairly normal summer evening for us. James asked if I wanted to sit on a bench for a little (I didn’t, I wanted ice cream) but I obliged. We sat there recounting our favorite memories of the summer of 2016. Next thing I know, James was down on one knee, telling me how much he loved me and asking me to be his wife. Cue the tears.
Best part about being married?
I just love doing life with my best friend. Does it really get better than that?!
Submitted by Jennifer.
Here's how you can connect with Jenn:
A huge, heartfelt thanks to Jenn and James for sharing their love story with us.
Vi auguro tante belle cose. xoxo
I am so grateful to all the couples that have contributed to this series thusfar. Please make sure to share and spread the word, if you're reading this and your own life is a great love story or you know of one, send them my way! There's no criteria for the love stories, it doesn't have to be international either, I have tailored questions for everyone.
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For a bite-size snack of make-believe romance, read these short stories:
Creative Writing: Dear Italy (A Love Letter)
Creative Writing: Airport Arrivals
Creative Writing: Tanqueray and You
Creative Writing: A Sunday Kind of Love
Creative Writing: Rooftops and Rome
Creative Writing: Perfect Strangers in Switzerland
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