Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That's Amore

We've all heard that the greatest love story ever told is your own.. right? While I do love my own love story, I will have to talk about that another time. The love story I want to talk about now happened long before my time. Its the stuff of fairy tales and happily ever afters. Distance, time, and language are some of the things that couldn't keep them apart. The love story I am talking about, of course, is my parent's.

My parent's "story" is one of my very favorite stories to hear, talk about, and tell. It's actually the most popular story I tell my clients while they are in my chair, mainly because people are so curious due to its uniqueness. I have wanted to type it up for awhile now so that those of you who haven't heard it can, and also because it's never been written out before and I believe it deserves documentation.

Lets rewind the clock a little bit further to July 17, 1954 when Mark Joseph Johnson was born to Joseph and Esther Johnson in Ogden, Utah:

Maria Esposto was born a few years later on March 19, 1957 to Giorgio and Gigliola Esposto in Penne, Italy:

Growing up literally worlds apart.. how were the two ever to meet, you ask? Well, my dad decided to serve a full time mission for our church and was called to Rome, Italy in October of 1974. There are a few instances of what some might call fate in this story, and this is one of them. He left about a year later then he could have. (he was 20) If he would have left right at 19, they would have never met. 

My mom grew up in Pescara. She lived in an apartment building where the missionaries lived 2 floors beneath her. My mom and her friends would see the missionaries and call them "The Kennedy's," having no idea who these guys were and why they were always wearing suits. Her younger brother, Stefano, was the first one to talk to the missionaries and got invited to a youth activity they were doing. He told my mom about it and invited her to go to the "party" they were having. This sparked her interest in the church and she started taking the discussions. 

A few months later on February 23, 1976, Elder Johnson was transferred from Sassari to Pescara. The next day, February 24th (which just happens to be my birthday...) was the first day they met when my dad and his companion went to my mom's house to teach her a discussion. She had already agreed to be baptized, so my dad taught her the last 2 or 3 lessons before her baptism which was held a few weeks later when my mom was 19. This picture at her baptism was the first picture my parents ever took together. Little did they know, it wouldn't be the last. 

Elder Maxfield baptized my mom and my dad confirmed her a member of the church.

My dad was the branch president in Pescara until he went home on October 8, 1976. His family was living in Colorado at the time, so my dad went there until he started school at BYU in January of the following year. 

For my mom's birthday in March, my dad sent her a birthday card. She never replied. He tried writing her a couple of other times to ZERO responses. He decided to send her a Christmas card as his last try. He told himself that if she didn't answer, he would never try to contact her again. He later found out that my Nonna MADE her write him back because she said my mom was being impolite. They kept writing back and forth, and then even started calling each other occasionally. (back then, it cost around $2.50 a minute to call overseas)

In March of 1978 my mom was getting ready to turn 21, and as a birthday gift, my grandparents agreed to pay for her to come to America for a visit. She left on March 15. What's cool about this is that on March 16, the Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was kidnapped and NO flights went in or out of Italy for a while. My mom said that if she would have waited until after that happened, my grandfather would have never let her go. (he was weary about this whole thing to begin with) fate again?

It was her first time flying internationally by herself and she didn't speak a word of English. She missed her connection at JFK, so they had a car hurry and transfer her over to La Guardia airport. She got on a flight there that stopped in St. Louis and was supposed to continue on to Denver, but they cancelled that portion of the flight and were trying to tell her to get off and that they would put her up in a hotel until she could leave from St. Louis the next morning. My mom obviously wasn't understanding anything that was going on. Everyone was getting off the plane, and my mom kept sitting there. When the stewardess went over to try to explain to my mom what was happening, my mom just kept repeating "Denver" over and over. Finally the stewardess found my dad's phone number in my mom's pocket book and called him to let him know what was going on and then put him on the phone to translate to my mom. 
 * Side Story- my mom shared a taxi with a few other people to the airpot hotel. Some guy kept talking to her, and so my mom just kept nodding her head and said "yes" sometimes, and "no" other times. Well, she's still not sure what exactly she agreed to because once they checked into their rooms at the hotel, this guys showed up at my mom's room with a pillow! She said "NO" and shut the door.. haha. 

Finally, my mom made it to Denver. My dad was working a lot at the time so while he was gone all day, she would watch soap operas and cartoons so that she could teach herself English. That's really how she learned! She was only supposed to be here for a month long visit, but once they started dating she kept changing the date of her departure. On June 24, my parent's decided to get married. She called her parent's in the middle of the night to tell them. Her dad answered, but she asked for her mom because she wasn't ready to tell him yet. 

On August 31, 1978 my parent's were sealed for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake City temple. My Nonna was able to come out for their wedding, but besides that, no one else from my mom's family was there. A few days after their wedding, they flew to Italy and my grandparent's gave them a reception in Pescara. 

Their engagement picture

Nonna and Mom

All the family

Their reception in Italy

34 years later and still in love and happy as can be.

And that my friends, is what you call AMORE.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Anniversay, a Birthday, and a Getaway.

Taylor and I have now been married for 2 years! Crazy. Our anniversary was September 10 and this is the only picture I took on our date that night. We went to one of our favorite places, Market Street Grill, to celebrate. I had been waiting for this day for over 3 months so I could tell him some exciting news... I had been planning a trip to Seattle and he had no idea!
Taylor's birthday is on the 16th, so I planned the trip to celebrate both things. He was so excited when I told him the news at dinner! He just kept saying, "are you serious?" "you promise?" It was adorable. Seattle is somewhere we have both talked about going to, and we have some friends that live up there as well. Taylor's mission president, President Pugh and his wife are now serving as temple presidents in Bellevue, and one of Taylor's best friends from high school, Ronnie, and his girlfriend Claire live in Seattle too.

On Thursday night we took a late flight to Seattle. Taylor and I LOVE to travel! He used to always tease me and say, "You would go ANYWHERE!" And the truth is, I really would. I would go anywhere I had the opportunity to go to because I LOVE everything about travel! The planning, packing, airports, flying. etc. It's just so fun for me. I get emails from Kayak and Travelocity every day telling me about deals, promotions, etc and I get all of these ideas of where I want to start planning for next. Luckily for me, Taylor is turning more into a travel bug too. We have lists of places we want to visit. We are going to see the world together :)
Seattle is such a beautiful place! It is so green and surrounded by water, so everywhere you look there is an amazing view! And it didn't even rain once when we were there.

We went on a duck tour the first day which is a BUS that turns into a BOAT. Ya I know, I never knew such a thing existed either. It was pretty awesome.

(Sleepless in Seattle house. Cute right?)

President Pugh and Sister Pugh took us out to an amazing dinner that night, but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture with them. :( Bummer. They did however give us their beautiful BMW to drive while we were staying up there. They are so good to us!! We love them.
Photo by alex_russ

The next day we spent the morning at Pike Place, The Aquarium, and we got to spend time with Ronnie and Claire and have them show us a few of their favorite spots. We rode the ferris wheel on the pier and it was one of my most favorite things we did.

Sunday was my handsome man's 24th birthday so I had another exciting surprise in store... a high adventure whale watching tour!!! For those of you who know me, you know I have a strange fear of whales, especially killer whales. And guess what? That's the kind of whale that lives up there! But I knew this was something Taylor had always wanted to do so I thought.. why not? And if we are going to do it, we are going to do it big. That's where the high adventure part comes in. The boat you take out to whale watch is a tiny little coastguard rubber speedboat. They also give you a coastguard outfit to wear that keeps you warm and is your flotation device. It was so cool! We felt like astronauts getting ready to go to space. The tour was amazing and both of our favorite things we did on this trip. We saw around 70 whales! 70!!! It was incredible. We just sat in one spot for an hour and a half as all the whales just swam by, jumping out of the water, flipping their tails, and having fun. It was so cute and I really wasn't scared at all. The tour left from the San Juan islands which is the cutest little island/town I've ever seen!! If you ever have the chance to go.. you better.

(It was so hard to get a good pic of the whales)

When we got back to Seattle. Taylor wanted his birthday dinner at the Crab Pot. He researched it and it was the only place he really wanted to eat while we were there. He was in heaven.

Our last day we decided to go to the top of the Space needle which was so fun! Such a beautiful view. 

P.s. we got the Pugh's some flowers from Pike Place for being so kind and showing us around, letting us borrow the car etc. And I just had to get a picture so you could see how amazing the bouquets are. 

We had the best time!!! It's always hard going back to real life. Hope you had a great anniversary/birthday surprise boo! Until our next trip.....:)