Living Outside the Box

My husband was a student when I met him seven years ago. He was beginning his science courses at a junior college after completing an undergraduate degree in business at the University of Hawaii. I was living a somewhat aimless existence in San Francisco, floundering around my mid-twenties trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. We were young and wild and bonded immediately over our mutual love for A Tribe Called Quest and The Big Lebowski.

Two months after meeting we flew to Hawaii together, and a month after that I found myself in my mother’s bathroom, trembling and holding a positive pregnancy test. It wasn’t what we had planned and we were both scared, but we knew one thing: We loved each other. Eight months after exchanging first names, we held hands on the beach and promised ourselves to one another, ’till death do us part.

I was working full time and Justin was attending a packed schedule of classes when we welcomed Jack into our lives. It wasn’t ideal, but we were lucky to be living back and forth between our parents’ homes until we could afford an apartment nearly a year later. It was the most wonderful feeling setting up our first home together, a tiny two-bedroom with beige carpet, 1970’s tile and no dishwasher. Things were moving along steadily and Justin began applying to dental schools all over the country. Somehow, we were still managing to pursue his dream of being a dentist, despite the financial stress and mustering through the first years of marriage and parenthood.

Not long after we moved, I was on my lunch break in a new job when I picked up my phone to call him, only to see that he was also calling me. “Big news” he said. “I was accepted to NYU College of Dentistry”. Clutching another positive pregnancy test, I swallowed hard. “Well, that’s amazing. I also have some big news”. Apparently bent on keeping our lives interesting, we chose to defer his acceptance to NYU for one year so that we could bring Zoe into the world. Again we found ourselves faced with our future, scared and anxious, yet still trusting and steadfast in realizing the end goal.


I don’t know how we survived the move and the past four years living in New York City. Justin made his way successfully through the most challenging and intimidating academic courses of his life, while maintaining our family financially on twice-yearly student loan deposits. It’s been a completely mind boggling, life altering, and soul awakening experience, and it’s changed us forever. The messy days were sometimes completely unbearable, but they were vastly outnumbered by the amazing ones. I don’t know if the same could be said if we lived anywhere else…In so many ways, living in this crazy city saved me.


We celebrated Justin’s graduation from NYU Dental School a couple of weeks ago. Many members of his family and my mom flew in from across the country to watch him walk across the stage in Lincoln Center to accept his diploma.


Our three children-the reasons behind his and our success-were also there to witness their father raise his diploma in the air in triumph. It was exactly how I had always envisioned it would be.









It was truly an amazing day, and a huge part of that was having our family there, both in person and in spirit-those that have supported us in so many ways since the very beginning.






We wouldn’t be anywhere if it weren’t for the love of these beautiful souls, and a few that were notably absent and missed. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the last four years, it’s that love doesn’t need to be tangible to be overwhelmingly present.

I suppose I’ll have to remember that when we move away from New York City. I have a feeling Manhattan will always be that ever present, familiar spirit riding along with me in my heart, though I can’t see or touch it.

We didn’t choose a conventional timeline; Our decisions weren’t calculated and our path was never pre-determined for us. The best part about all of this is realizing that love success, and happiness can also be found by searching outside the box-and I plan on staying there.

We can’t wait to begin again, even if it’s somewhere in the middle.

Join the Conversation


  • Tears, rolling, down, my, face….

  • Love you, Jess, and love the story of your journey. You guys will adjust to live in Cali in no time at all, and you’ll always remember the time you lived in the best city on earth! LOVE to you guys! Hope to see you soon. Miss you! xoxo

  • What a beautiful post…so much ahead for you…NYC will always be there when you need to recharge! I will miss your photos, they were delightful. Good thoughts go with you and your family as you move on.

  • What a ride, huh? And I’m guessing it only gets better from here. 🙂

    Your experience in NYC has been truly amazing, even from my vantage point. Thank you for sharing so much of it with us. Obviously it will always be a part of you and your beautiful family. It must be very bittersweet to leave…


  • Beautiful post. It has been so fun living vicariously through your big city experiences- I can empathize quite a bit with your living outside the box and just following where life takes you because that is very simlar to how our family began and has grown. But im totally jealous your path led to NYC and mine went to Omaha!

    Can’t wait to see what amazing things the future holds

  • Wow! Well done to you mamma for supporting him and backing him up all the way so he could accomplish this. Amazing.

  • Such beautiful sentiments! So many times I am stuck on the “life plan”, but realize that the unexpected things are really what makes everything much more interesting. Thank you for confirming this!

  • love this so much– and you guys. xoxo

  • Dear Jessica!
    I am full of emotions! Love your blog! You and your family have achieved a big thing!
    All the best for the future!
    (I am still asking myself how only I discovered you on the net!?! I am from Europe and also a momma of three and must say your photos, your storries and the energy had quite an impact on my “motherhood”.) Zoe’s wardrobe is the most inspiering 😉

  • I have tears rolling down my face because it gives me so much hope for my family’s future. We too welcomed a little one while we both finish school. Thanks so much for being so honest. As always, I love your blog!


  • My favorite post you have ever written.

    I’m going to miss you lady.

  • This post is so honest & optimistic. Thank you for sharing.

  • I so seriously have tears! This was the most beautiful story of how things can just fall into place and the exact and perfect time. You two are setting an amazing example of how to chase a dream and make it happen no matter what the challenges. I’m so glad you got to soak up some NYC crazy before you enjoy the rest of your forever. GOOD LUCK GUYS

  • I just came across your blog, and I love it. I love this post as well. And I have to know where you got your dress- it is gorgeous!

  • She’s wearing the Free People Snake Goddess Maxi Dress. I have no idea why she didn’t share this information herself.

  • We love your inspirational story. WOOF WOOF! Anything is pawsable! Your life is ‘living life with moose size pawsabilities’. Family plus dog=LOVE.
    My story is the opposite of yours. I raised my family and then started anew with a twist, much like Laura Ingalls Wilder writing Little House on the Prairie. I wrote my MaggieMooseTracks® kids’ book series after my kids were adults. Thanks for sharing! Maggie sends hugs & licks!

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