In 2004, I was 17. It was my senior year of high school at Hidden Valley High in Grants Pass, OR. A couple of friends and I drove up to Eugene to go to a Duck football game and stay with my best friend, Ashley. We had a great time! The next day we got together with her good friend Jonah who was 19 years old and also living in Eugene at the time and we hung out with him most of the day. I told Ashley that I thought Jonah was cute. She told him, but he didn’t think much of it as he was 2 years older and not in high school anymore.
Just a few months later, I was now 18, Ashley let me know that Jonah moved back to Grants Pass, and was working at one of the local Dutch Bros Coffee locations. He had moved home because his father was having some medical problems, and I wanted to show my support to him. I went through his stand and got his number (there are some other details in there that I’ll leave out for time sake, haha). We hung out a couple of times after that, and the time came for my senior prom. I was so nervous, but I called and asked him. He said YES. We had the time of our lives, and it was such a fun night with my best friends and our great dates!
Not too long after was Memorial Day Weekend, and as we were walking to Boatnik in good ol’ Grants Pass, OR, I asked him to be my boyfriend. He said yes! We spent the entire summer inseparable and enjoyed life to the fullest. One night he was out of town on work and I remember we were talking on the phone for hours. I started falling asleep, and he told me he loved me! I leaped out of bed, and was so excited to hear those words. I resisted the urge to tell him back right away and once he got back into town, I confessed my love in person.
Summer ended and fall was approaching. I was making the big move up to Eugene for college at UofO. We agreed that we would try out the long distance thing and see if we could make it work. Jonah made a big effort to visit me on the weekends, and I would travel down to Grants Pass as often as I could. We both put in a lot of time on the road to make it work. 2005/2006 was one of the most challenging years for both of us. I experienced some pretty extreme lows while adjusting to the life change, and Jonah experienced his father being diagnosed with ALS (LouGherig’s Diesease) and was put on a ventilator. He spent hours each day helping to care for his Dad and I did my best to support him and the family to my greatest ability. This is a major reason why we are so close. ALS is a horrific disease to watch a loved one go through, and a support system might be the only thing that gets the family members through.
We were long distance for 2.5 LONG years, and in 2008, Jonah was offered a position up in Eugene to be the regional manager of the 7 Dutch Bros. Coffee locations. Although his father was still on the ventilator, and with the full support of me and his family, he made the tough decision to make the move up to Eugene. We moved in together, and our lives got a little bit easier. Adjusting to living together brought some challenges (living with a messy boy is not always rainbows and unicorns, folks), but we were finally in the same city and I got to focus on my studies without the distraction of a long distance relationship. My grades went up and so did my mental health.
In October 2009 we experienced the major loss of his father. The time leading up to his passing was extremely difficult with a lot of trips down to grants pass and major heartache. Being that it was my senior year of college, I thankfully had really understanding professors and they allotted me the time to spend with the family, too. Juggling it all was no easy task. We all took some time as a family to mourn together, and I thankfully by the grace of God, graduated with straight A’s my last term of college.
On January 4, 2010, my birthday and also his fathers birthday, Jonah proposed! We spent the afternoon at the spa (my favorite place to be), and got to enjoy a candlelit shower together after our massages. I was in such a relaxed state (the spa is my happy place, after all)! We were drying off after the shower and the next thing I knew he was on one knee with the ring box open (it was upside down), buck naked! I couldn’t help but start laughing (I tend to do that during serious situations). Obviously I said yes, and was ECSTATIC. As we were checking out of the spa, we didn’t even take the time to tell the spa attendants what had just happened, I immediately called my mom, dad, and the rest of the family.
09/10/11 was a DREAM. We got married at one of our favorite places in the Eugene area— King Estate Winery. With nearly 350 people in attendance, our wedding was no small feat. It took a lot of planning, time and coordination. The best part of it all (aside from the most magical day of my life) was all of the planning dates we took out at King Estate. To this day there are still a few people who work there who worked during our wedding, and we love to spend time together there with each other, friends and family.
The month after we got married, Jonah and I were offered the opportunity to become the franchise owners for the 7 Eugene Dutch Bros locations. We poured our hearts and souls into the franchise, and with a lot of effort grew the business from about 65 employees to over 150 fun-loving happy crew members. It wasn’t always easy, it was often extremely fast-paced with a lot of trials and tribulations, but we had fun doing it and made some of the best friends and community relationships along the way. Although we are no longer the franchise owners, we will forever have a love for Dutch Bros and all of the people who we have gotten to know along the way. It is a huge blessing.
In between all of these highlights, there have been lots of lows, losses and a ton of personal growth. The one constant is that we have each other. Someone recently asked me “So how do you guys do it? What’s your secret sauce?” I gave a long-winded answer, but really, we allow each other to be our own free individual selves and express ourselves to our fullest. We have both invested in our own personal growth and strive to do and be better everyday. The trying times we have gone through together have really bound us together along with our families. Our life challenges are something we only know and share together, and therefore has brought us closer than ever.
May our love story bring you hope. Hope for your personal and professional goals. Hope that there is someone out there who wants to put in effort to better themselves and also help you along your path for growth. Inspiration for you to go out and get what you want: ask for the number. Just because you are a woman, it doesn’t mean that the guy will ask you first. Be brave. Don’t settle for less. You deserve to live the life you want, and deserve to be supported through it. Life really can suck sometimes, and has some extreme lows. It’s okay to not be okay. Life can’t always be the highlight reel. Support and love each other even in the lowlight.