You're going to want to grab some tissues before you read this.
Traveling the world with your life partner isn’t for the faint of heart; for many couples, a vacation together can be the make or break moment in a relationship.
For traveler Kyle James, the experience of jetting off to new destinations with his girlfriend Ashley proved to be a life-changing experience, so much so that he decided to write a book about it.
In his debut book, “Not Afraid of the Fall: 114 Days Through 38 Cities in 15 Countries,” James shares the “unvarnished story of their off-the-cuff journey” that started when they quit their jobs and bought one-way tickets to Paris. And while the entire book is worth the read, it is the dedication page that has everyone buzzing.
“My sweet Ash, without your push, we never would have fallen,” the dedication begins.
“You always dreamed of traveling the world. When we began dating, it was all you talked about. You told me how you couldn’t wait to get out of this small college town, how you couldn’t wait to experience life through a different lens.”
In a poignant letter, James shares with the world just how special his relationship is with his girlfriend Ashley, and just how much she changed his life forever, explaining that it was her who convinced him that the 9-to-5 office grind wouldn’t ultimately bring the pair happiness.
“A few weeks into the new job and I hated it. It was not what the job I thought it was and I came home feeling lost. I had worked so hard for years to get to this point and it turned out it was not what I wanted to do with my life. You sat me down on the couch, looked me in the eye, and told me you had a great idea.”
James’ letter continues by expressing his sheer gratitude toward Ashley for believing in him and for pushing him into the great unknown. Then, the letter ends with a simple question.
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Read the entire letter below, but perhaps grab a few tissues first, as you’ll certainly need them by the end.
My sweet Ash,
Without your push, we never would have fallen.
You always dreamed of traveling the world. When we began dating, it was all you talked about. You told me how you couldn’t wait to get out of this small college town, how you couldn’t wait to experience life through a different lens.
When we graduated from college, you wanted to celebrate 16 years of schooling by traveling together. I told you we had new careers to start and that these were our prime years. I told you that we didn’t have the time or money to travel the world just yet and asked that we wait a while. You listened to me.
We settled on moving to Denver to start our careers. You filled young minds with love and letters as a kindergarten teacher, and I raised money to teach kids financial literacy for a large nonprofit.
Each year at midnight, as we toasted our cheap Champagne and kissed softly to the background noise of cheering New Year’s Eve patrons, you asked me to travel the world with you. You asked me to take you to romantic corners of Prague and intimate islands in Thailand. You asked me to spend miserable sunburned nights with you in Italy and long days under beach cabanas in the Greek Isles. Each year you asked me and each year I gave you a reason why we should wait. I told you we needed more work experience. You listened to me.
One year later, I was offered a new job, my dream job. When I came home with the news, you looked like you had the air knocked out of you. I could see that you were devastated. Your eyes began to glisten as you smiled and congratulated me on accepting what I had worked so hard for. “Now we can take epic vacations!” I assured you. But we both knew that what we had talked about for years and what you had been dreaming about your whole life had just slipped away from us.
A few weeks into the new job and I hated it. It was not what the job I thought it was and I came home feeling lost. I had worked so hard for years to get to this point and it turned out it was not what I wanted to do with my life. You sat me down on the couch, looked me in the eye, and told me you had a great idea.
I was afraid to leave the comfort of our lives in Denver but waking up to your smiling face every morning, eager to explore, assured me that everything was going to be OK. It was hard for me to embrace our journey during the many sleepless nights in the sweltering Tuscan heat and exhausting back-to-back travel days in the jungles of Thailand, but by conquering these trials and tribulations together, we fell deeper in love because all we had was each other. When we got home, I was afraid of not finishing my book about our travels, or not being able to find a publisher, but you urged me to keep writing. Ash, you are the wind to my sails and the ink to my pen. No matter where I go or what I do, the only thing I am sure of is that I want you by my side. Every cliff I jump off, every moped I crash, every morning after a night of food poisoning, every Mediterranean sunset, I want you by my side. I never want to stop exploring with you, Ash.
Will you marry me?