Rising from the Fall
When Evansville native Terri “Detroit” Hughes was approached about being a part of the major motion picture “The Soloist,” she was told there was no acting involved. She just needed to be herself — living on Los Angeles’ Skid Row, homeless, suffering from an eating disorder, and delusional.
As Hughes watched the completed film, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, which tells the true story of a journalist who befriends a homeless Juilliard-trained musician, it became her reality check.
“Being in ‘The Soloist’ caused me to be able to mirror myself,” says Hughes, who recently spoke at the University of Southern Indiana to dispel the misconceptions about homelessness and encourage those who need help to seek it. The event was part of the USI Symposium on Homelessness.
“When the camera would roll, Joe Wright (director) didn’t tell us how to act. He said, ‘Just be yourself.’ I just started to cry, because after a few days, it was such a reality check. It woke me up. I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”
Hughes was born in Evansville, but at two and a half weeks old she was adopted and went to live with a well-off family in Santa Cruz, Calif. But she found her life spiraling downward as she started returning to Skid Row on and off beginning in 1981 when her grandmother died. Then in 2006, she found herself staying long term after getting into trouble with the law for obstruction of justice, going through a divorce, and the death of her father.
Soon after the filming of “The Soloist” in 2008, producer Gary Foster saw there were more stories to tell about Los Angeles’ homeless population. He helped produce the award-winning documentary film “Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home.” Hughes, who was also featured in the documentary, says it reveals her lowest point to where she is now.
Hughes sought help through Lamp Community, a nonprofit organization that seeks to permanently end homelessness.
She now travels the country, conducting presentations on homelessness, poverty, mental illness, and drug addiction. She currently lives in Los Angeles, but is looking to permanently relocate to Evansville soon.
For more information about the USI Symposium on Homelessness, contact Julie St. Clair at 812-465-1169 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Music on His Mind
Two summers ago, a nervous Art Woodward sat across from Nashville songwriting bigwigs Kerry Kurt Phillips and Jason Matthews at the Sandy Lee Watkins Songwriters Festival in Henderson, Ky., Woodward picked up his guitar and performed an original tune about a favorite vacation spot of his youth, Florida’s Lake Minneola. Phillips and Matthews told him the tune had potential, but Phillips, who has penned hits for country stars Joe Diffie, George Jones, and Tim McGraw, said it needed something … or someone. Matthews added, “You need a girl.”
“I had this nice little ditty about Lake Minneola,” recalls Woodward, an Evansville resident who owns Art & Copy Creative Services, “but just like any story, it needed conflict. Their advice helped me take it to the next level.”
The revised song, a tale of first love, became the title track for Woodward’s debut album, “Lake Minneola on My Mind,” released in February under the name Art the dude (Woodward’s nickname since college). Recorded at Ashbrooke Studios in Evansville with Scott Brown as sound engineer, the album features 20 local musicians, including vocalists Gina Moore and Andrea Wirth, multi-instrumentalist Monte Skelton, and Grammy Award-winning bassist Jeff “Stick” Davis. The album, on which Woodward performs vocals, guitar, and harmonica, defies genre limitations, channeling rock, blues, country, and more.
His chief musical inspiration comes from his subconscious. He wrote the album’s opening track, “Happy to Be Here,” after dreaming that he was in a café where a patron played the song on a jukebox.
One of the songs Woodward holds dearest was released as a stand-alone track to raise funds for John Miller, a guitarist, former partner, and photographer with Photics, LLC, and stroke survivor. While Miller’s stroke affected the right side of his body, he still plays guitar with his left hand and recorded several tracks for Woodward’s album. “He Plays With Fire” is available for download at cdbaby.com/cd/heplayswithfire.
Woodward earned an endorsement from acoustic guitar manufacturer Boulder Creek Guitars (he is pictured on the firm’s website, bouldercreekguitars.com), an honor bestowed to the likes of guitarists for Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift.
Woodward will hold a CD re-release party April 15 at Lamasco Bar and Grill. “Lake Minneola on My Mind” is available for purchase through artthedude.com, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and iTunes.
Mitch Luman is director of science experiences at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science. He has worked at the museum for nearly 30 years. On Feb. 7, the museum opened the Koch Immersive Theater, a $14.1 million replacement for the old planetarium. The upgrade includes a 40-foot dome, a 10,000-watt digital surround sound system, and stadium seating. We talked to Luman recently about the museum’s newest feature and what part of the sky catches his eye.
What is special about the new planetarium?
It is so much more than your dad’s planetarium. We don’t use that word anymore. It’s an immersive theater. The experience is immersive because what we are doing is using video projections to completely surround you. You feel like you’re in the action. We have the ability to use computer simulation and to really see our place in space and not just point out planets.
How was the design for the renovated facility chosen?
We had the benefit of being able to consult with other facilities that were first adopters, such as Nashville (Tenn.) and Louisville (Ky.). They were very frank about how they would do it if they had to do it all over again. I learned a lot by just talking to other people. We learned what to avoid, a lot of which are small things that our guests will not see. Every seat has to have a good sight line. The seats are generous and all well placed. We have a tilted dome, so you don’t have to sit straight up. We have a wonderful experience. And that is what makes it so immersive. You lose track of where you are.
Did you always want to work for a museum?
Many years ago I trained to be a teacher. I had an experience in college where I was placed in a museum to work, and I loved it. The experience just opened my eyes to a career that my guidance counselor never told me about. I finished my degree in education, taught for a year, and have been working in museums ever since.
What part of your career are you most proud of?
Professionally, this is the highlight of my career. I’ve had the privilege of working to build a planetarium. We had the benefit of lots of time and planning. We took our time to do it right. I am proud for the community because they supported us. We were saying that the best is yet to come, and it has arrived.
Do you have hobbies or pets?
For pets, I have telescopes. Astronomy is a hobby.
Do you have a favorite constellation?
No, I do not. My favorite planet is Saturn, the first planet I saw through a telescope. It knocked my socks off. It was like a Christmas ornament that had to be made up. It was just fantastic. I’ve always looked up to the sky. I just never knew you could make a career out of it.
For more information on the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, visit emuseum.org or call 812-425-2406.
Down the Stretch
The story of my Kentucky Derby glass collection isn’t about the great lengths I’ve gone to find each year from 1961 to 2013. It’s about my friends, family, and even old boyfriends who have given me a mint julep cup here and there.
My old college roommate keeps a running list in her iPhone of the glasses I have in case she stumbles across one in her daily life, while my mom calls me at every auction or yard sale to double check.
Each year, more than 120,000 mint juleps are served over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, each in a specially made collectible glass. If you’ve ever been to a race at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, you know that your two must-have accessories are a hat and a mint julep in hand.
I started collecting Derby glasses in 2000 when my dad stopped in to The Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., and bought my older sister and I each the 2000 glass. Living in coastal North Carolina at the time, you didn’t just stumble across Derby glasses like you do in the Tri-State. The gift became a prized possession — my encyclopedia reference — as I worked to memorize the list of winners that are printed on each glass since Aristides first won the race in 1875.
Growing up, my family always owned horses, which I envisioned as a Secretariat or Man O’ War (and I rode them like a Ron Turcotte or Johnny Loftus). It fostered my passion for horse racing, my love for the Triple Crown, and my thirst to complete a full set of glasses.
The first glass produced by Churchill Downs was in 1938, but it was used only in limited numbers and was a water glass, instead of a true mint julep glass. Some collectors argue this glass doesn’t belong in the full set. I’ve seen this glass only once sitting in a window of a small shop in downtown Midway, Ky., and of course, it wasn’t for sale.
The longer you search for the earlier years, the harder they are to find — and the more expensive they are. World War II created a severe shortage of materials, including glass, which meant a smaller number of glasses were produced in the early 1940s. Another challenge in completing a set is in 1946 and 1947 only blank undecorated glasses were created making recognizing them especially difficult. But it doesn’t stop you from looking; going through every glass, memorizing the designs, and hoping the next antique store could have just the one.
A Timely Transition
“Being a Butterfield growing up, I always had the expectation I would join the family business.” The family business Jim Butterfield, 57, speaks of is Smith and Butterfield, a local Evansville office furniture and supplies store. After graduating from Evansville Day School, Butterfield, who had grown up in the same East Side Evansville home his entire life, moved to DeLand, Fla., to attend Stetson University in 1975.
In 1979, Butterfield graduated from Stetson and knew he soon would be returning to Evansville to learn the family trade. However, both he and his father decided it would be best if Butterfield gained some experience with a different company first. So, immediately after graduating, Butterfield remained in Florida to join Kmart as part of its Management Training Program, where he gained experience in retail, management, and work ethic.
Butterfield returned home in 1981 to continue his apprenticeship at Smith and Butterfield to begin preparing to take over the family business. He began in the warehouse, then moved to the Downtown store, then managed the retail store on Lynch Road. After six years of learning the ins-and-outs of Smith and Butterfield, he took over most of the responsibilities as President from Earl Seibert, who had been running the business for the Butterfield family in the interim between Jim and his father. Then, nearly a decade later, in 1996 Champion Industries, Inc., made Butterfield an offer he couldn’t turn down and he sold the family business to the Huntington, W. Va., based supplier of print solutions. Champion recognized the success of Smith and Butterfield and left the name and its management intact. The only major change was a shift to commercial stationery and printing, though office furniture and supplies still played a vital role.
Butterfield continued as president for another 16 years under Champion. “We had a great working relationship,” Butterfield says. It wasn’t until 2012, coming out of the difficulties of the 2008 financial crisis, that Butterfield started to feel “a little bit disenfranchised with what was going on.” It was at this exact time that an old friend of Butterfield’s, Bill Hammonds, was looking for his successor as CEO of Evansville Surgical Associates. “I wasn’t looking to leave Smith and Butterfield,” Butterfield says. “But because we were friends, I listened. He was very passionate about the doctors and the staff.”
After more than three decades at Smith and Butterfield, the chance to try his hand at something new was certainly tempting. “I’d been at Smith and Butterfield for 31 years. I didn’t have to think about what I was doing as much as I do here at Evansville Surgical Associates. It came naturally,” notes Butterfield. “As a man of faith, God was taking me down a path. If I was ever going to leave Smith and Butterfield, this was going to be that path.”
Butterfield and Hammonds met in the 1980s as neighbors when Butterfield had moved back to Evansville. Their friendship was forged over the years as they started going to lunch periodically, alternating who chose where to eat and who paid. “We talked about life, business, our relationships, everything,” Butterfield explains. Eventually, they began picking places to eat where they thought the other wouldn’t set foot in. Butterfield says they’ve eaten just about everywhere in the Evansville area, since it was a new place every time.
So, when Hammonds was diagnosed with terminal cancer and tasked himself with finding his replacement, Butterfield instantly came to mind. Their friendship, his familiarity with Evansville, and its hospitals — Deaconess and St. Mary’s had been two of Smith and Butterfield’s biggest clients — and his experience in management made Butterfield a very attractive candidate. After a series of interviews, Butterfield was tabbed as the new CEO of Evansville Surgical Associates. One of the biggest challenges Butterfield faced in acclimating himself to this new profession was the medical terminology. With no prior medical knowledge, Butterfield knew he faced a “learning curve that I had to take on.” Butterfield, as well as the rest of Evansville Surgical Associates, had to deal with the emotions of Bill Hammond’s passing, on Jan. 5, 2013, just a few days after Butterfield had taken over as CEO. “I lost my mentor. I lost a good friend and Evansville Surgical Associates lost a good executive. It’s still hard to believe he’s gone,” Butterfield notes.
Overseeing 20 physicians and 90 employees, Butterfield is responsible for the hiring of new doctors, handling most of the relationships contractually between Deaconess and St. Mary’s, expanding the presence of Evansville Surgical Associates in the Tri-State area, and the financial stability of Evansville Surgical Associates among other things. A major part of his job recently has been concerned with the change from ICD-9 to ICD-10. ICD-10 is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, a medical classification list by The World Health Organization. Butterfield has overseen training of the new code system for doctors and staff. As Butterfield is quick to note, his transition to the medical field hasn’t always been the easiest: “I found myself asking a lot of questions in the first six months. I still ask a lot of questions.” However, he also is equally quick to credit the people around him for his success to date. “The staff has been an incredible support to me,” he says. “The doctors, also.”
Butterfield says he is quite happy with his career change and new position. Though it pained him to leave his family’s business, he pointed out this was softened by selling ownership years before and also that, “I didn’t really want my three children involved. Office supplies had become a difficult business.” Meanwhile, at the age of 57, Butterfield has found a renewed energy. “I’ve really enjoyed my time at Evansville Surgical Associates,” he adds. “It’s been an invigoration to my career.”
For more information on Evansville Surgical Associates, visit evansvillesurgical.com.
She rises early, very early. For morning WFIE news anchor Beth Sweeney, 35, working before the sun fills the sky has become something of a routine. This Liberty, Ky., native and graduate of the University of Kentucky grew up wanting to be an actress. She now resides in Evansville, is married to Reed Kress, a chiropractor, and is 14 News’ morning smile.
City View: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Beth Sweeney: I majored in journalism, and then worked in Lexington, Ky., for a cable channel. I then moved out to Los Angeles and worked for KTLA, which is now the CW channel. It was the WB when I was there. I did traffic reporting up in a helicopter and just knew that I really wanted to anchor, and to be able to do that I’d have to come back to a smaller market. So, I moved back home and started sending out resume tapes, and this job came available, and I came over and got hired and I’ve been here for eight years now.
CV: How do you remember your first stories?
BS: One of the first stories I covered here in Evansville was the November (2005) tornado, eight years ago. I started anchoring the day after that tornado hit. That was my first week in the anchor chair with 14 News Sunrise. I did a couple of stories with survivors of the tornado, an elderly couple in Newburgh who escaped their home. They were able to walk out of there alive, which was amazing. And of course, those memories of that, and how the community came together right after I’d just moved here. It really just made me feel like Evansville was the place I wanted to be in.
CV: Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to be a news reporter?
BS: My dad would wake me up on Saturday mornings and say, ‘Hey, we’re going out with a group of kids to build this wheelchair ramp.’ Or ‘We’re going to help this person with home repairs.’ So I’ve always been very service minded, and I felt like journalism was another way to do that in a job environment — to help inform people, and to let them know what is going on, and hopefully ignite them to become active citizens in their community.
CV: What is your schedule like?
BS: I get up at 2 a.m., take a shower, and head straight to work. Immediately when I get here, I start writing for the show. We have two producers overnight and of course they come in earlier in evening, so the rundowns for our show are pretty much set up, and I just start plugging in stories. I start writing stories, I start checking wires, I start checking the Internet, to see what’s happened over night for anything that is new that we can provide to viewers, because we are sometimes the first thing they see or hear when they wake up in the morning. We are on from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., and then we do local news cut-ins during the Today Show, up until 9 a.m. After that is over I work on a story for the 5 p.m. newscast that is recorded ahead of time and anchor our midday show at 11 a.m. So my day typically ends around 11:30 a.m.
CV: Why did you come to Evansville?
BS: Evansville is only about 31/2 to 4 hours away from my hometown. WFIE is a legendary station and a great place for you to really learn how to anchor and learn how to be a good journalist. And I think that says something for WFIE and to the whole city of Evansville. When I came here I really learned what they were talking about. When you have greats like David James and Ann Komis who are mentoring you, you can’t ask for anything better than that.
Going the Distance
Civilian couples often can plan their weddings according to their own schedules. Yet those who plan to marry while also serving in the military don’t have the same luxury. That’s why these couples often have two wedding celebrations. Newburgh, Ind., natives A.J. and Elizabeth Jackson did just that in 2012.
The pair met in junior high school and shared mutual friends at Castle High School in Newburgh. After Elizabeth graduated in 2005, she moved to Los Angeles to earn her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California. A.J., who graduated from Castle in 2006, joined the Army after one year at the University of Southern Indiana. Elizabeth and A.J. often would see one another when they returned to their hometown, and they began dating Elizabeth’s junior year of college.
A.J. proposed to Elizabeth on Dec. 20, 2011. It was her birthday and four years to the day from their first kiss. The spot was on the riverfront in downtown Newburgh, where they shared many special memories. A.J. had waited for that perfect moment until after he had formally asked Elizabeth’s father for her hand in marriage.
Two and a half years ago, Elizabeth moved to Fort Bragg, N.C., where A.J. was stationed, and finished her last year of law school at UNC Chapel Hill. The original wedding date was set for May 26, 2012, Memorial Day weekend. But because of the military’s unpredictable scheduling, the couple learned in January 2012 that A.J. would be in the field training on that original date. Elizabeth and A.J. made the decision to exchange vows and become husband and wife on Feb. 8, 2012, at a courthouse in Fayetteville, N.C. They then shared a dinner at the restaurant where they had their first date in North Carolina, when Elizabeth first visited A.J. in 2008.
The couple held a second wedding ceremony with family and friends in snow-covered Evansville on Dec. 27, 2012. Elizabeth and A.J. renewed their vows before friends and family at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Downtown Evansville. The wedding colors were blue and white with silver accents, in partial tribute to a brilliant sapphire ring that had belonged to Elizabeth’s grandmother and that Elizabeth wore for the ceremony.
The reception was held at the Evansville Country Club. With flowers from Barbara’s Bloomers, tuxedos from Men’s Warehouse, photos by Studio B, and food catered by the Country Club, Elizabeth said all vendors were very accommodating and understanding of the rescheduled wedding. Elizabeth wore a Vera Wang dress, purchased in Nashville, Tenn.
Here Comes the Bride
When Alex and Cam Elpers first met at a 7th and 8th grade dance, they knew they liked each other. However, it wasn’t until their junior year at Mater Dei High School that the couple began dating. Five years later, on June 29, 2013, they exchanged vows at St. Boniface Church on the West Side of Evansville in front of 400 friends and family members.
The wedding at St. Boniface marked the fourth generation of weddings in Alex’s family at this church. Her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents all exchanged vows at this twin-spired church, first built in 1881 and then rebuilt in the Byzantine style in 1902 after a fire destroyed the original. The priest who presided over the ceremony married Cam’s parents. Another personal touch for the wedding was that Alex’s voice teacher growing up, Michael D’Alto, and good friend from grade school, Lindsay Mann, sang for the wedding, which Alex described as a “very traditional Catholic wedding.”
The dress Alex is pictured in is from Ella Park Bridal in Newburgh, Ind. She went dress shopping three times before selecting this dress with her mother, aunt, and cousin. Originally, Alex wanted a strapless gown, but then changed her mind and decided to use straps. “When I put it on,” Alex says when asked how she knew this was the right dress for her, “I didn’t want to take it off.”
Much like the venue, this was very much a local wedding. Rhonda Fehrenbacher made the cake, Kokies Catering & Banquet Centers catered the food and served as the site of the wedding reception, Studio B took the photographs, and T.R.U. Event Rental Inc. helped with the decorations as well as the setup. Alex’s great-aunt played a vital role as she provided all of the flowers and bouquets. The only out-of-town presence was the band, a small group based out of Cincinnati.
Alex and Cam still reside in Evansville on the West Side and both work in the plastics industry — Cam in management and Alex in inventory control. While their lives have since moved on, Alex has a favorite memory from the wedding.
“After everyone threw the rose petals as we were walking out, we had to quickly go to the side of the church to go back in,” she says. “With that many people, it’s easy to be stopped and start talking — and on our wedding day we had to hurry to get our pictures done in the church because of the next Mass. So as we were walking, I remember Cam picked up the back of my dress. It was our first moment by ourselves. We hugged and kissed and were so excited! Turns out Daniel Knight captured the whole thing. It’s probably one of my favorite photos from the day.”
Michele and Jeff Blaize’s wedding literally stopped traffic. This was just one of the moments that made their casual, bohemian-inspired, California beach wedding special. A close friend of the couple led them and their roughly 50 wedding guests across the Pacific Coast Highway to the Santa Monica State Beach. The friend carried a homemade “here comes the bride” sign, made of a large piece of palm wood painted in bright blue. After knowing each other for 22 years, Michele and Jeff’s wedding on Oct. 12, 2013, was a dream come true.
Michele, originally from Mount Vernon, Ind., describes her relationship as a perfect, wonderful fit. She and Jeff attended Indiana University together, where they dated and became best friends. About 17 years ago, they each moved to California; Michele was in Los Angeles while Jeff, a native of Anderson, Ind., spent time in San Francisco and along the coast. They developed a routine of spending Thanksgiving together with friends in California, and as the years went by, they realized their time in college together was special.
On Thanksgiving in 2010, Michele remembers Jeff saying as he proposed, “I’ve always loved you, and you need someone to take care of you and Sinjin (Michele’s 8-year-old son). If we’re ever going to give this a shot, let’s try it now.” Jeff wanted to pick out the ring by himself, but Michele gave him subtle hints through her Pinterest board titled “Jewels.” Michele describes the engagement ring he chose, an 18-karat faceted moonstone set in diamonds, as breathtakingly and perfectly beautiful.
Everything, from the flower crown she bought at a local florist shop, to the dress she had custom made, came together in a short amount of time to perfectly embody Michele’s vision for the wedding.
The reception was held at the home of a good friend of Jeff’s and Michele’s. There were vintage glass bottles filled with wildflowers adorning the buffet table, which included ceviche cups, pork sliders with coleslaw, and shrimp skewers. To save money, Michele and Jeff offered self-serve cocktails to guests in lieu of a bartender. The cake topper was a pair of quirky troll dolls Michele found on eBay.
It was important to Michele to have her guests’ children and her own son involved in this special day. Two babysitters were hired, and sand toys were available during the ceremony on the beach. There was a pool at the house, where a lifeguard was on duty. The kids enjoyed night swimming and ate pizza and cupcakes.
“It was definitely a bohemian, ethnic vibe,” Michele says. “It was fun and from the heart.” Rob Halfon, a good friend of the couple’s from Indiana University days, officiated the ceremony. They used their nicknames, Jefe and Soleil, in their vows, and both got some laughs from the crowd as they delivered them. “Keeping it small made it feel more intimate,” Michele says. “We have known each other for over 20 years, so we have a lot of history.”
In the Blink of an Eye
On March 30, 2013, 220 guests gathered at the Granary in New Harmony, Ind., to see Lindsey and Casey Jackson wed. With its largely wooden interior and grand chandeliers, the Granary was the perfect fit for the ceremony. Flowers and centerpieces by Gehlhausen Floral enhanced the beautiful setting. “I wanted to keep everything natural looking,” she says. “With how pretty New Harmony is, I wanted to keep everything pretty and simple with a rustic feel.”
Another vital aspect of a pretty wedding is selecting the perfect dress. Lindsey tried on numerous dresses at a number of local stores before finally deciding on the pictured dress. Along with her entourage of seven friends and family members, Lindsey went to Ella Park Bridal in Newburgh, Ind., where she found this ivory strapless, all-lace, beaded sash dress. The dress received all yesses from her judges and, as Lindsey put it, “I felt like an actual bride.”
The wedding reception was held just a short walk away from the ceremony at the New Harmony Inn Resort & Conference Center. “We knew that New Harmony would be the perfect place to have our wedding because it gave us the feel of a destination wedding that was close to home,” she says. “We loved the idea of being able to have our wedding ceremony and reception within walking distance from each other and still have the amenities for our families and guests to stay at the New Harmony Inn.” The Inn also did all of the catering; Rhonda Fehrenbacher of Evansville made the cake. Corey Ivy, a DJ for Superior Entertainment, provided music, and Daniel Knight of Studio B captured all the magical moments on camera. A unique twist was that Donut Bank did the wedding favors, a cookie bar that was a great success among attendees.
Lindsey and Casey owe quite a bit of thanks to one of their bridesmaids. A little over four years ago, the couple was set up on a blind date by one of Lindsey’s best friends since childhood, also named Casey. Ever since that first date at what is now Smitty’s Italian Steakhouse for dinner and drinks, Lindsey and Casey have been together.
Recently, the couple has moved to the Cincinnati area. Casey was relocated to serve as operations manager for Consolidated Grain and Barge. After the move, Lindsey has begun to look for a job in real estate.
The couple’s biggest lesson from the whole process: “We learned not to sweat the small stuff on our wedding day, and to enjoy every minute of the day because it goes by so fast. Our wedding was everything we planned for and so much more. We couldn’t have asked for a better day to begin our lives together.”