This is me. That’s what the title means, in case you’re not fluent in French and/or don’t know how to use google translate.
It’s a strange conundrum to arrive at. What would you tell someone about yourself? Someone who, let’s just assume, doesn’t know anything except face value. How far back in the history of [YOU] would you reach to call “the beginning”? I asked myself that on Saturday morning, while sitting across the cafe table from a lovely friend I made online. (Yes, the internet made me a friend. Hello, 21st century!) We had done small talk, as Kid President says, over email. But face-to-face, I had to decide what to write on the empty slate of who she knew me to be before our introduction. . .
For me, that’s an easy answer. The beginning was the day I first saw his name. It’s not an uncommon name, but I’d never known anyone by that name before, so it stood out. I remember a quiet, steady voice in my head telling me this is it, he was made to be mine. A complete stranger and the only thing I knew we shared in common was our friends. My life started in that moment and the 18 years before that were simply the shaping of who I’d be when life finally filled my lungs. The in-betweens are for another day, but if you fast forward nearly 5 years and peel back the shutters of our life, you’d see US. And in US, you’ll find me. . .
Rachel Michele Dodson. Today, I am his Mrs. standing at just (barely) over 5 feet tall, brown hair (a color that can and does change, often), dark eyes and prominent features. I live in Orange County, Southern California with the love of my life, Aaron and my (almost) 2 year old son, Elijah. I grew up here and love that I get to raise my sweet boy here too. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting so many different cities, states, countries, each with their own beauty and intrigue. But, no matter how far I go, I’ve never found a land as lovely as California. It’s a place of dreams, the big kind, and unspeakable beauty. In one day, you can enjoy waves crashing on cliffs and smooth, perfect sand and just a short drive inland, towering pines and sacred mountain escapes. This is home to us and we’ve grown heart roots here.
I’ve always been an artist, dreamer and writer. I found my niche in photography when the dearest of friends took me under her wing and let me shoot beside her. She believed in me and shared so many of those early photography firsts with me. Today, I’ve been shooting for 9 years. NINE. I feel old.
As a little girl, one of my very favorite movies was Mrs. Arris Goes to Paris. In Jr. High, I tried my very hardest to learn French. As an adult, I collect anything and everything that reminds me of France, including but not limited to tacky eiffel tower paraphernalia, notebooks with french writing on them and dreams of someday visiting. It’s true, I’ve never actually been. But my husband promises to reconcile that soon. In the mean time, I eat my fair share of French Macarons in the waiting. Ohhh, delicious.
As strange as it sounds, coffee is a part of us. It’s one of the things we had in common from the get-go, it’s something we were friends around, dated around, and
now that I’m writing this it sounds like a borderline weirdo obsession, but yes, we also said our vows in a coffee shop. If you know us, you know that coffee is more then just a morning beverage to Aaron and I. I couldn’t even chalk it down to a hobby. It kind of fits relationally into the place a beloved family dog would, awkwardly enough. We drink coffee passionately and seriously in this home. There are no filters or quick-brew pots here. Just old fashioned french-presses in every size and shape. We dream up entire vacations to Europe and South America, centered on good coffee tasting. Obsessed. And one of the romantic things we say after sampling a particularly smooth bold roast is, “someday when we’re old, we’ll serve this in our coffee shop”. So yes, there’s that.
The last important random fact I have to share, the last cornerstone of who I am as a person, is my love for a country other then my own. I believe passionately in a lot of good causes, but above all I have a huuuuuge heart for the entire continent of Africa. I love Africa so completely that I would move there in a heartbeat, and just prior to meeting my husband, I nearly did. I’d brave the giant bugs, scorching sun, dusty roads and third world horrors without a second thought if it meant getting to return again and share any amount of time with a people I love so truly. I don’t just want clean water, mosquito nets or schooling for them as a nation. I want it all.
Whew. So how’s that for diving right on into the deep end?! Back up to the top, and breeeeeathe. C’est moi. This is me, in a nutshell.
Pictures courtesy of my husband. February 2013.