At its heart, my story is a love story. As much as it is a tale of triumph over adversity – a story of the girl who was burned but not broken – it’s a story of the boy and the girl whose love for each other couldn’t be dimmed. A love that no fire could tear apart.
I reckon we all have different versions of ourselves. It depends on the day or the stage of life we’re in. I can say without a shadow of doubt that the version of myself that I love the most is the version that I am when I’m with Michael. He’s my best friend. He knows me better than anyone. He not only lets me be me but he celebrates me – and indulges every single one of my crazy adventures.
Wherever I go and whomever I meet, I am asked about Michael. There’s something about him that has captured the public’s imagination. To my way of thinking, it’s for one simple reason. It’s because he has demonstrated what love is. He is a living example of the best, most dedicated partner a girl could ever hope to have.
I love him because I have a lot of respect for him as a man. He can talk to anyone and is nice to everyone, and I really look up to that.
I love him because he is gentle and caring. Even when we are out surfing together he will tell me where to sit while waiting for a wave. He’s always encouraging me to push myself in the ocean. To be that little bit more brave, to try that little bit harder. Not because he wants me to be uncomfortable, but because he wants me to be the best possible version of myself. And that to me is the mark of a really beautiful person.
I love him because he’s an ocean man. Not only does he teach me how to surf, fish and dive for lobsters, but he catches fish and hands them out to all of our neighbours.
I love that he is so utterly content with the person he is – so comfortable in his skin: a quality that is rare. It makes me more confident in myself. It makes me not try too hard. He reminds me all the time that there is no one else in the world who is like me.
I really love his family. They are such genuine, good people. They’ve given Michael a strong set of values that he never wavers from.
Michael doesn’t need praise or affirmation. Everyone wants to be told they are good, but Michael doesn’t need that. He is entirely contained. And his parents say he has always been like that. There’s a kind of Zen calm about him. He is easily the most unflappable person I know.
He’s also an excellent listener. When you talk to Michael he makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room. And he doesn’t just do that with me, but with everyone. It’s not forced, either. I don’t think he realises what a special quality that is in a person.