Island Vibes Feb 2024

16 LIFESTYLE Eternal summer love Island couples share stories of lifelong romance By Heather Rose Artushin There’s nothing quite like falling in love on the Isle of Palms and for these three lucky couples, the island has played an integral part in their life stories. From watching the sunrise on the beach after prom, to getting married on the rooftop of their beach house, to watching the island blossom with their love over more than 35 years, the Isle of Palms is truly a place where love grows. Sarah and Andrew Vega were both born and raised in Summerville and grew up attending the same schools together. “We knew of each other for quite a while, but we didn’t officially meet until we were both in high school band together,” shared Sarah. “In the fall of 1997, we both ended up in a class called “Personal Fitness,” and we were the only two upperclassmen amongst the freshmen enrolled, so we kind of stuck together during class and talked a lot while running, playing basketball or doing sit-ups.” When Andrew asked Sarah out on a date one December, she said no because she was babysitting. But he thought she wasn’t interested. “He didn’t ask again until March and our first date was to see the movie ‘Titanic!”’ Sarah shared. “We came to IOP to watch the sunrise after prom in both 1998 and 1999. Andrew also proposed on the beach in January 2004.” Andrew attended the United States Air Force Academy, while Sarah enrolled in Winthrop University and ultimately earned a Master of Public Administration from the College of Charleston. “When he went away to school, we would stay up so late chatting via AOL Instant Messenger, and phone cards were a coveted gift so that he could call when his schedule allowed,” she recalled. “We never really ran out of things to talk about back then, and it’s always been that way.” Andrew served from 2003-12 on active duty, deploying four times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and he spent an additional 11 years serving our country in his reserve unit, all as a C-17 pilot. When Mike, 66, owner of a sports marketing agency in Charlotte, and Michele, 62, a local realtor, first met six years ago, they never would have imagined one day getting married on the rooftop of their Isle of Palms beach house during a global pandemic, with only the pastor, photographer and their three dogs bearing witness to their special day. A mutual friend arranged for them to meet, and after talking on the phone a few times over the holidays, the couple finally had their first date at Wood & Grain on Dec. 28. Little did they both Sarah & Andrew Vega Michele & Mike Boykin The couple share two children, Christian, now 11 and Emilie, 7. When they moved to the Isle of Palms in August 2018, five days before Christian started kindergarten, they knew they were living the dream. “Living here has been a goal for a long time,” shared Sarah. “Our favorite part about living here is sharing our home with friends and family, whether it’s for a day visit, an overnight or an entire vacation. Having kids, we absolutely love all the great community events that happen throughout the year, as well as the programming at the IOP Recreation Center that puts the focus on having fun and building skills.” One of Andrew and Sarah’s favorite activities as a couple is going for a run on the island. “More often than not, we make sure our route includes popping out to the beach to take it all in – the waves, people, dogs, sunrises, wildlife and more – and we cool down with a walk out to the public dock at the marina. Living so close to the water is ultimately what makes island life so amazing for our family!” Amid a lively New Orleans Mardi Gras back in 1982, Carol met Dan while visiting a friend. “Dan lived in New Orleans at the time,” Carol shared. “We knew we were in love spending Mardi Gras day together.” Now in their 60s, the couple recently celebrated 40 years of marriage. Dan, originally from Cocoa Beach, Florida, is a North Carolina State graduate and retired mechanical engineer. Carol, from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, graduated with a Master of Science in nursing from MUSC in 1995 and is a retired psychiatric nurse. The two now enjoy traveling, live music and spending time with friends on the island. “We have two favorite date nights,” said Carol. “Riding in our golf cart to have dinner and drinks at one of our wonderful local establishments or a sunset boat ride in our 1966 restored 28-foot classic Donzi.” While Dan has become a classic car, boat and motorcycle builder and enthusiast in his retirement era, Carol embraces being a yogi and owner of CSB Jewelry Designs. Living on the island since 1987 has been a dream come true for Carol and Dan. “The Isle of Palms is our paradise,” Carol said. Island living has also served to strengthen the couple’s marriage in difficult times. “Living through Hurricane Hugo and rebuilding our house certainly cemented our relationship and made us appreciate how much a marriage needs to be a partnership,” reflected Carol. know this is where Mike would propose almost exactly three years later! The date went so well, they continued to the bar at Charleston Grill. “Well, we were talking with everyone else in the bar and finally he asked if I’d like to go back to see his house and open the bottle of Caymus that he had received for his birthday the day before,” shared Michele. “It wasn’t really that late, and I didn’t have too far to go home from IOP, so I agreed.” After sharing the wine, listening to music and even dancing a little, Michele noticed the clock. “I was suddenly shocked to realize it was now almost 2 a.m.!” With two important closings in the morning, Michele took an Uber home. “After a few blocks, the Uber had a flat tire, and an ice storm was starting,” she recalled. Mike didn’t want her to wait alone, so he literally ran to meet her and keep her dry and warm under his umbrella while she waited for the tire to be changed. “He called to make sure I got home safely, and also called the next morning to wish me good luck and make sure I was going to make it to the closings on time. Well by this time, the storm had played havoc and bridges were closed, no taxis or Ubers were running—and I had left my car at the restaurant the night before. Mike insisted that he help and got in the car with Toby, his Jack Russell, and headed towards Mount Pleasant. Right as he approached the connector, the police had just blocked it off due to the ice and he had to turn around…I finally did get to my closings, and with both settled, I achieved my goal for the year! After only one full year in real estate, I reached the Realtor of Distinction. Mike liked that I was goal-oriented, and I liked that Mike was caring.” Michele made a bold move and told Mike what she was thinking after this first adventure together. “After a polite exchange I said, ‘I just want you to know, you’re everything I wanted.’ That took him off guard, but in a good way. It was a bit risky maybe, but I saw that he cared about people, was kind and had qualities that I liked and wanted to let him know. For those that may be single or newly single, you never know. Be open to the possibility and know that love could happen when you least expect it. But it starts with being open to love,” expressed Michele. Carol & Dan Burns Photos Provided.