By ML Hilton
They say there’s a book in all of us – stories about entrepreneurial achievements, autobiographies, historical novels, or maybe even epic sport contests.
But, for some, that book might be a romance novel. Don’t snicker. Not the kind where the hard-working, underprivileged, but proud, feisty and beautiful heroine is rescued by the handsome, strong, rich, (not necessarily in that order) and probably misunderstood hero.
These are romance novels based on self-discovery, sacrifice, and maybe even a little luck. Often, these stories are written with tenderness and joy, and sometimes a little awkwardness and every once in awhile, a bad case of indigestion.
And, many times our neighbors write them.
Tom & Kellie
How does a broke college girl and her long-time boyfriend – both “anti-marriage” — embark on more than 20 years of matrimony? After the vacation from hell, of course.
After saving for more than a year, Kellie and Tom excitedly flew to a Puerta Vallarta resort for a week-long
holiday. This is Kellie’s first ever vacation, and the couple couldn’t have been more thrilled.
“Within two days I was sick,” Kellie said. “Seriously sick. A nasty, nasty illness.” It was so bad that she couldn’t even stand and the hotel sent a doctor to their room to prescribe relief. It helped, but by then Tom was struck down. “The vacation,” she said, “was ruined.” During this time, when they could only lie in bed and watch TV, Kellie said that Tom continually cracked jokes about the situation, keeping them laughing constantly. “I could see his character. He was going to make the best of every situation…That’s when it dawned on me. I could believe in matrimony.”
Kellie and Tom were married in 1991. She says that Tom is the most romantic man. “Amazingly romantic, blow-your-mind romantic.”
“This guy is perfect for me. I was right. I am completely in love with him and I know that is rare.”
Matt & Tracy
Nowadays, online dating is the norm. Matt and Tracy had their first introduction as a matchmaker date on Doglover4U. They’ve been married 10 years now and Tracy thinks that fun and communication play a large part in what keeps their romance alive.
“We are a couple that believe in a lot of hugs and a lot of playfulness,” Tracy said. “We really enjoy being with our circle of friends and sharing.” Tracy and Matt stay very active and are frequently seen at the most entertaining parties in Napa – whether open mic, sing-alongs, or red-carpet soirees. Tracy says, “embracing the moment keeps things joyful.”
But, life isn’t all fun and games, and 2013 was a particularly difficult year for Tracy. “I have a husband who is calm and centered. He is a really good listener and a great supporter.” And, even after 10 years, they are still improving their couple skills – especially communication. “You have to tough things out and work through them. You just have to get to the bottom of things and work things out.”
Kent & Hollie
Kent admits to not being Hallmark’s ideal when it comes to grand gestures of love. But, he also thinks that this time, both Kent and Hollie’s second marriages, they got it right. “I love hanging out with her and spending time with her,” he said, adding that he likes to create situations where they get to spend time together.
Kent says that Hollie makes that easy. “She makes decisions all the time,” he said, “yet she defers to me when it comes to the dinner reservations.”
“It’s more about – this is so cliché – she’s my best friend. I trust her so much, and she’s beautiful,” he said with a smile in his voice.
“I wish I could be more mushy. I just enjoy her company.”
Julie & Greg
For this couple, it’s all about the wine country. “There’s no better place to find love than here. Over the past year, my now-fiancée, Greg, and I have shared the beauty of Napa and Sonoma Valley: hiking through vineyards blooming with mustard flowers, enjoying winery concerts, tastings and tours, eating at amazing restaurants, and canoeing down the Russian River,” said Julie.
A sense of place is important to each of them. They both work in fields that foster communication, growth, and support the health of their environments and community. Celebrating and enjoying these common pursuits recently brought this couple closer together.
“In October, when we hiked up to Jack London Park in Glen Ellen on a warm afternoon, I hardly imagined my world would change. As we sat on the stone wall surrounding the pond built by London in the early 1900s, Greg surprised me with a ring and a proposal,” Julie said.
“It was a moment I will never forget, and, hopefully, just the beginning of many more memories made in this magical place.”
Magic, trust, humor, and playfulness, all the essential components for a great romance novel. There might be one being written next door to you.