Sky-diving pair who fell in love

JUST MARRIED

Amanda Charles And Matt Michalowicz

January 20, 2002|By Sandy Alexander | By Sandy Alexander,Sun Staff

Less than 12 hours after Amanda Charles and Matt Michalowicz met, they jumped out of an airplane together. In the spring of 2000, Amanda went to Pensacola, Fla., to visit her brother Ben during a college break. The morning after she arrived, Ben took her sky diving along with his roommate Matt, a fellow Navy flight school trainee.

"Once you sky-dive with someone, you feel you have this bond with them," says Amanda of Matt. "I really liked him. He was cute."

A few months later, Amanda received her bachelor's degree in education at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (she had previously earned a bachelor's in psychology from the University of Delaware). When Ben invited her to spend the summer in Florida, it sounded like fun, so she moved into the house with him, Matt and another housemate.

Amanda and Matt got along great, but both were unsure they wanted to start a relationship. Then, in the fall, they were dancing at a party and decided to give dating a try.

Amanda stayed in Florida and got a job as a substitute teacher while Matt continued training to become a Navy pilot. By Christmas, they were unsure where Matt, who had graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1999, would be stationed next, but he asked Amanda if she would come with him.

"I would not have gone," she says, "if I didn't know this was it."

Matt, 24, of Pasadena, was assigned to the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, Calif. He and Amanda, who had grown up in Ocean City, N.J., made a vacation out of driving across the country with stops at the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, a trip Amanda calls "one of the best weeks I think we've ever had."

Getting settled was difficult, says Amanda, because she did not have a job or friends in California, but soon she landed a job teaching seventh-grade social studies. She also met some Navy wives and became involved with her church.

"She always has a smile on her face," says Matt. "She makes friends easily."

On Amanda's 28th birthday last year, Matt arranged a scavenger hunt in their home. The last clue was on a birthday cake -- a Bugs Bunny figurine pointing toward a photo they had taken at the Grand Canyon. A diamond ring was behind the photo.

They only took two months to plan their Dec. 28 wedding date. Because of Matt's military commitments, they felt the holidays would be the best time to gather friends and family. They relied on their mothers to arrange the details, from reserving the Castle at Maryvale in Brooklandville to making the holly and candle centerpieces and the small Christmas stocking favors.

The nondenominational ceremony, led by a friend who is a minister, included original vows based on a list of promises the couple made -- including to respect each other, communicate and love each other's families.

Upon returning to California, Matt and Amanda moved into a new house in Lemoore. Amanda says she is getting used to military life, but it can be scary. In a year, Matt will likely go on deployment for six months.

"I am confident in his ability and the ability of the people he is with," she says. But, "It will be hard to be away from him."

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