On May 17, I had my annual photo session with Nova Sirène the Virginia Mermaid. This year was extra special as she is engaged and brought her fiancé William and their dog Koda to join in for a few images. They traveled all the way from Georgia to spend an evening at the Old Lighthouse Beach with me. The couples love story is sweet and unique.
William and Hannah lived about ten minutes away from one another their whole life, they were in different school districts so they did not meet until high school. William had a crush on Hannah through most of high school but being a boy-crazy teenage girl, she was into the older boys and didn’t give poor William the time of day until later. They had Chemistry together in 11th grade and one day started talking about the Outer Banks. Hannah mentioned she had gone there with a summer camp and had gone hang gliding at Kitty Hawk Kites, stayed at Oregon Inlet campground, etc. and the two hit it off from there. William’s dad was a hang gliding instructor at Kitty Hawk Kites in the 80’s, hang gliding is a huge part of his family. The couple went to their senior prom together, dated for a while after. When Hannah went to college they decided it was time to go their separate ways and explore life and try to stay in touch.
Fast forward two years later and William is a full-fledged hang gliding instructor at Kitty Hawk Kites. Hannah had just finished summer school and was ready for a vacation. Coincidentally or by the will of a higher power, William contacted Hannah around the same time and wishfully suggested for her to come down to the beach and visit sometime. She jumped at the opportunity and found herself in Kill Devil Hills. The pair had both grown up in the two years they were apart. Hannah was developing her mermaid business, William was really diving into the world of hang gliding it was as if she fell in love with him all over again. As scary as it was they started dating long distance, Hannah just KNEW it was going to work. They took turns visiting each other in North Carolina and Virginia. William had previous plans to go out west to Utah with his friends for the winter, to work at the ski resorts and fly in some really stunning sites out west. After not seeing one another for close to four months, she flew out to see him in Utah, that’s when she knew she would do anything to be together.
When William came back to the east coast in the spring of 2016 he drove back and forth from NC to visit her at school. On one of his trips, he was on a really remote mountain road and saw two dogs running along the side of the road. They were a similar build and coloring but neither had collars. William pulled over to investigate. One of the dogs jumped right in his car (Koda) and the other one ran into the woods and lost William and after an unsuccessful attempt to locate the other dog he left. William picked Hannah up and they took Koda to a shelter but they had already closed for the day. So the couple kept him overnight which sealed the deal. The next day they took him to the shelter and waited for someone to claim him. After two weeks no one had come to get him the couple adopted him! Hannah came up with the name Koda after watching the Dream Works movie “Brother Bear” where Koda, a little bear is lost in the woods and finds a home with the main character.
William and Hannah continued to tolerate their long distance status because Hannah knew she would be moving to Lookout Mountain Flight Park near Chattanooga, TN, where he currently works as an instructor. They packed their things and moved to Tennessee on May 9th. On their second night in their new house after spending all day shopping and cleaning. Hannah says she was dirty, smelly, in the same clothes she had traveled in and completely content with life. After a filling dinner, they sat there with a beer in hand and she muttered: “man I don’t know how this day could get better”. To that, he said, “Oh that reminds me I have something for you.” He told her to close her eyes and he rustled around for a little bit in the living room. He then told her to stand up and open them. When she opened her eyes he was standing in front of her, said ” I love you” to which she replied with a giggle “I love you too”. He then got down on one knee and took her hand and asked if she would spend the rest of this crazy life with him. Of course she said YES after hyperventilating for way longer than was healthy. He slipped his mom’s stunning engagement ring, the middle stone of which is his grandmothers from the 1940s. It fit her finger like a glove thanks to her sneaky roommate who convinced her to “try on graduation rings” at the JMU grad fair. It wasn’t anything fancy, just the two of them sharing a beautiful moment in their new home with Koda asleep on the couch.
Hannah recently started working as a customer service rep for FinFolk Productions, one of the top mermaid tail producers. The business is run by two twin sisters who are a few years older than Hannah. They have recently expanded their business and decided it was time to hire help! Hannah has booked some birthday parties in Chattanooga. Her big appearance will be back in Virginia. The Real Mermaids, the company she works for is performing at Norfolk Harborfest in Norfolk, VA for the third year in a row! The recently changed program includes lessons on conservation and it’s been a big hit so far! Although Hannah is sad she is not able to return to Kitty Hawk Kites mermaid school this summer, she knows they will be back at the beach soon to visit and also maybe summers in the future when the right elements align. There are magical waterfalls, rivers, and freshwater sights to be seen and explored by mermaids in Tennessee she looks forward to exploring. Along with finally learning how to fly and hopefully getting her own hang gliding pilot rating.
I wish Hannah and William the best of luck on their new journey in Tennessee and I look forward to working with them both again soon. Please scroll down for a few frames of their magical romantic sunset engagement at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.