And so the story continues. Bear in mind that I am oblivious. The blonde in me has no clue. Seriously. We got on the plane without incident but the flight to Los Angeles had me nervous. Not because we were flying. I LOVE flying (I even have my license). No, I was nervous because Chelsea […]0
And so the story continues. Bear in mind that I am oblivious. The blonde in me has no clue. Seriously.
We got on the plane without incident but the flight to Los Angeles had me nervous. Not because we were flying. I LOVE flying (I even have my license). No, I was nervous because Chelsea could possibly want to get something out of my backpack and discover the ring. She wanted me to put it in the overhead bin but I insisted on keeping it under the chair. That way, whenever she wanted something, I got it for her. Fortunately, Chelsea was too busy death-gripping my arm at any sign of turbulence and any time I opened the window to look outside. We landed safely and made it to our hotel (after a nightmare of a time at the car rental since Chels was TWO WEEKS under 25). The hotel we were staying at was in Newport, very close to the theatre where EscalateLIVE was being held. It was a quaint place and all the rooms smelled like stale salt water, but it had an authentic feel to it and allowed us to rent bikes for free.
I remember thinking as a put my stuff in my room how this would be one of the most special trips of my life. Everything I did would be ingrained in our memory as a defining time in our relationship. Considering this, I always made sure to go the extra mile to be sweet, patient, and of course adventurous. We took the free bikes all over that beach town (despite the surprising cool weather). We met a couple with a beautiful dog that was half coyote, saw a tiny dog that spent hours sitting on top of a large stone ball to entertain passersby, and ran along the beach trying to get as close as possible to the massive seagulls.
One of the great things about Chelsea is she always keeps me open to new experiences. I am a lazy idealist. I love the idea of doing as many crazy things as possible, but usually need a gentle nudge to get me out of my comfort zone. Well, with Chelsea, it’s more like the collective push from UGA’s beast of an offensive line. I MEAN HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT THEY DID TO TECH’S D-LINE LAST YEAR???…..Sorry. Anyway, needless to say, Chelsea was the entire reason we were even on a trip to California, pursuing her passion for photography.
It was still a chore to keep the ring hidden from her. She seemed to enjoy making me sweat it out. One morning she came to ‘help’ me decided what to wear to the conference. I still had the ring hidden in a shoe in my bag. As she kept making me change shoes, I had to put my ninja skills to the test, passing the ring between shoes as fast as I could, grumbling with each “No, put the other shoes back on.” To get revenge, I casually mentioned how it was a shame we couldn’t go to Disneyland while we were here.
Escalate Live was an incredible experience for the both of us.
She got to meet and learn from top photographers in her field and I got to learn more about a very intriguing culture of artists.
Photography, particularly wedding photography, has been going through some growing pains. A sour economy and access to cheap but effective equipment has resulted in the profession being flooded with newcomers. One of the inspiring aspects of this conference was that the masters holding it were encouraging the novice competition rather than writing it off as many do. Their message was that the industry was stronger if everyone worked together to solidify their products rather than falling into the temptation of undercutting their peers, leading to undervalued prices and, worst of all, pedestrian work. I was impressed by their passion for their profession’s art than its potential profitability. I came away both excited and nervous for Chelsea’s dream. Although there was hope in their message, it was obvious that the market was saturated and the majority of consumers were uneducated, undiscerning, and surrounded by friends willing to ‘point and shoot’ for free. Still, I knew Chelsea’s natural eye, technical skill, and charming personality would see her victorious. She’s simply too darn determined to let it be any other way.
After the conference ended, we made the drive to the home of our friend Stephanie and Wagner. By the way, anyone who thinks Atlanta traffic is bad, try LA at rush hour. I chuckled to myself a few times as I noticed Chelsea was texting Rusty about how she wished he was there with us. We finally made it and Chelsea was happy to finally meet our Cali friends in person. Around 10 P.M., Wagner left for work at the hospital. Only, he wasn’t actually going to work. Steph and I texted back and forth about the coming surprise as Chelsea sat oblivious, yelling at me for hitting her with a red shell or lapping her for the second time (we were playing MarioKart). An hour or so later, he returned with the first of three major surprises for Chelsea. I’ll never forget her shriek of surprise as Rusty walked in the front door. I was relieved, happy to have one less secret to keep. The last two would be taking place in the morning. I didn’t sleep very well.