Their relationship has had its ups and downs, but hasn’t any? Rachel and Savannah’s session is full of warmth and love. Jose Melgarejo perfectly captured them.
Words by Savannah
To say that Rachel and I met at the perfect times in our lives would be a lie. I had just started my first year as a 6th grade Language Arts teacher, and Rachel was in her final semester at Salisbury University. We barely had time to think, let alone date. I can tell you with 100% honesty that I have no idea what made me ask Rachel out on a date. Maybe it was the fact that I never in a thousand years thought she would actually say yes. But for whatever reason, all it took was four simple words and one date for us both to realize that the hectic lives we both thought we were living still had space for just a little more adventure.
On October 12, 2017, I asked Rachel a simple question, “How spontaneous are you?” The next day we were sitting in Mojos on our first date. We would love to say it went seamlessly well. But what kind of love story would that be? Our first date started with Rachel stepping out of her car and directly into a puddle. I thought this was adorably hilarious until I tripped over my own feet before we even got into the restaurant.
Once the conversation started, it didn’t stop. Rachel had asked for the drink menu while I was in the bathroom. So when I saw her looking at what I thought was the check, I snatched it from her only to realize it wasn’t the check. We both cracked up, thankfully, but it didn’t help to calm my nerves.
Before we knew it, hours had passed, people had come and gone, and our food was finished. Not wanting to leave yet, but running out of excuses to stay, I asked the waitress for our check and figured we would call it a night. To my surprise, Rachel asked if I wanted to go to a local bar, where one of her friends worked. As the hours passed, the conversation only continued, and by the time the night ended, we had already made plans to see each other again.
Less than a week later, I was sitting on the couch in Rachel’s apartment in Salisbury. Rachel sat two whole couch cushions away. And the conversation that flowed so easily a few days before came to a grinding halt. The hours that flew by before were now creeping by as I sat there trying to understand the show “Workaholics” playing on TV.
Knowing that I had to be to work early the next morning, I prepared myself to say goodbye. All while texting my best friend debating if I should try and kiss Rachel before I left. Reality hit when the perfect kiss I planned out in my head turned into a headbutt when we both leaned in too quick at the same time. I quickly made my way out the door and kicked myself the whole ride home. Thinking there was no way she would ever want to see me again. Luckily, I was wrong. By October 22, 2017, I had somehow convinced Rachel to be my girlfriend, and as corny as it sounds. The rest just fell into place.
Already, in the house-buying process when we met, Rachel and I would joke about her just moving in with me after she graduated from college in December. What started as a joke turned into reality when we moved into our first house on March 29, 2018. Less than a week later, I convinced Rachel that her fur-child Piper needed a sister, and we brought Millie, a Corgi/Tasmanian Devil mix, home. With a full house and a full heart, I didn’t think things could get much better, and then we met Jose.
Rachel and I were nominated for a photoshoot that Jose was doing for same-sex couples. And when we found out we had been chosen, we immediately accepted his offer. Much like in any other situation in my life, I was a big ball of awkwardness behind the camera. Rachel, on the other hand, was a natural. Rachel and I knew that this would be an experience that we would cherish forever. But nothing truly prepared us for when Jose sent us the pictures from our shoot a few weeks later.
I quickly learned how hard it truly is to form words that describe the love Rachel and I have for each other. But Jose was able to capture it perfectly behind his camera lens.
Rachel and I will be the first to tell you that our relationship isn’t just fairy-tales and rainbows. A few months ago, I found out that while I was in awe of Rachel’s beauty on our first date, she was thinking of emergency contacts to call because the tattooed girl that stepped out of her car was not the Middle School teacher she had envisioned. While I was freaking out because I had discovered a highlighter on my shirt just moments before we were supposed to be meeting at Mojo’s, Rachel was freaking out about going on a date with a girl for the first time. There was awkwardness, laughter, hearts were being opened, and walls being torn down. It wasn’t perfect, but honestly, I don’t think we would have ever wanted it to be.
Like any couple, we have our ups and downs. We have both experienced first-hand the negativity that comes from people who disagree with our relationship. We argue, we fight, we cry, but most importantly, above all else, we love.
I think the most eye-opening thing for me along this adventure, Rachel and I have been on is that when you love someone, when you truly love someone, you get through things. We build each other up, we are each other’s number one fans and cheering committee. We are each other’s voice of reason.
When everything seems to be crashing down, there will always be that little bit of peace and silence that we know we can find in each other.
So, our advice to you? No matter how busy you are, no matter how crazy your life seems, always take the time to be spontaneous.
A note from the photographer, Jose Melgarejo.
I sought to step away from all the little things that consume weddings. Something that could tear us all back to the basics.
I pushed the camera metal up to my face to shoot my first frames of Savannah and Rachel- in our little apartment rental in Delaware. Then on the sands at Cape Henlopen. At the latter, they had these fabulous vintage dresses. The sunlight fell just right- casting shadows here and there and then hiding behind clouds to make them purple.
We walked into the waves and sand with the sea wind cutting into our hair, hushing our words. Sometimes we were all silent, thinking. Watching the light and clouds and listening to the seabirds whistling in the reeds.
And as the warmth of the afternoon passed, Savannah and Rachel held hands and kissed and loved as if no one else was there but as if everyone they’ve ever known was there at once.
Here, I knew for myself this wasn’t a styled shoot anymore. I was glad to forget myself and everything else outside of the connection between the two.
Love is love.
Photography by Jose Melgarejo