Eight years ago, sea captain Christian Birch was living the perfect bachelor life, soaking up everything the world threw at him.
“I spent my twenties traveling the world and living out of a backpack, so when I was about to turn thirty and realized I’d never even paid rent or owned a couch, I freaked out and decided to do both,” he said. “I left a boat in Hawaii and ran to New Orleans with enough cash to last a year and set myself up with the most amazing bachelor pad on Royal St.”
And wouldn’t you know, the world was about to throw some love at him!
“About two glorious months later, I was happily ‘bacheloring’ around the Quarter with a friend when I walked into Coop’s Bar,” he continued. “We were talking at that big table just inside the door when the smallest girl with the biggest eyes (aka Grace) locked onto me and never let me go. In fact, she chased me pretty heavily! There was a hurricane and a fly-fishing trip to Montana in between, but within a few weeks, I was stumbling over pairs of women’s shoes on my way to the beer fridge. That’s when I knew my bachelor pad had met its match.”
Grace added, “When I saw him walk in to Coop’s in August 2008, I must have asked him a million questions on the spot! I went right in to journalist mode: ‘Who are you?,’ ‘Where are you from?,’ ‘How long will you be in town?,’ ‘Will you marry me?’ Ha! I didn’t pop the question then, but it was certainly love at first sight for me!”
With eight years under their belt, Christian and Grace are still living it up!
“Being with Grace quickly turned out to be more fun, more exciting, more unpredictable, and full of random adventures than being single,” laughed Christian. “You never know what’s coming next with her! She introduced me to my first Mardi Gras, dozens of the most interesting people in the city, and a thousand other things. Everything about ‘us’ flowed naturally at its own pace: saying ‘I love you’ that first time, living together, traveling the world together, even getting married and having the most perfect little baby girl, Pearl, together. Eight years now, and it’s always felt as magical as our first days. Life isn’t always easy, but we’ve never had to force that feeling. We’re extremely lucky.”
Grace concluded, “Honestly, I had a thing for starving artists and musicians. I had my salaried job, I owned my own home, and there was a bit of time that I thought I could ‘fix’ others. When I met Christian, I finally understood what it was like to have an equal partner, someone who had the means to be independent and secure enough to give me my independence. There was no trying to change each other. Even though we are opposites in many ways, there’s a deep respect in our relationship. He’s away a lot, so we don’t take a moment for granted. After 8 years, we are still very much in the honeymoon stage.”
The following questions may or may not have started any arguments…
Grace: Christian is such a great cook and he loves to roll up his sleeves in the kitchen. He’s really come such a long way since I first met him, especially as it relates to classic Louisiana dishes. Our first date was a cooking class with Frank Brigsten of Brigtsen’s Restaurant -- that was after he made his first gumbo with carrots! He’s never made that mistake again, but I’ll never let him live it down!
Christian: We both love cooking, but we’re really great when we do it together. I get a crazy idea and want try something new, and then Grace digs me out of my mess, or occasionally vice versa! We don’t really do recipes, but we can really surprise ourselves sometimes, and our friends too. I’m really looking forward to including baby Pearl in our creative insanity; it’s definitely a family activity.
Takes Longer to Get Ready?
Grace: Actually, most times I would say Christian. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, especially if we’re going somewhere really swish. He loves messing endlessly with his bow ties, pocket squares, and cuff links to get them just right. And I don’t wear a lot of make-up, so I just throw on an outfit and I’m out the door.
Christian: Grace! Except on the rare occasion I decide to put on a suit. Good things take time.
Christian: Well, every once in a while I get accused of being too much of a “captain.”
Grace: It’s not that Christian’s bossier, but he does have “captain-like” tendencies. He runs a tight ship and he’s usually on the right path when giving orders.
Grace: Christian, a million times over! He lives on boats where everything must have a place or chaos ensues. I live my life in chaos! Our French Quarter condo is cluttered with my art, sunglasses, shoes, and now a bit of baby gear. It’s very colorful and makes me happy, but it also looks like Andy Warhol threw up.
Christian: Me. Me. Me. Sigh.
Says “I’m sorry” first?
Christian: Probably Grace. I think we both try really hard to give each other a lot of respect. Saying “I’m sorry” when we’ve hurt the other is a big part of that.
Grace: I’d say that we are both in tune to each other’s shortcomings and we know when there have been hurt feelings. We usually work it out pretty quickly. We only get half the year together, so we can’t afford to spend that time fighting.
Christian: Well, my style is a little bit more “slow and steady” than my racecar-driving wife.
Grace: Ha! Christian, a million times over again! He always says that there’s one main difference between men and women. Men can’t multi-task and women think they can. I’ve learned that when I’m driving, I ONLY need to be driving, no fiddling with the radio or the phone. But I do forget to use the blinker every now and again.
Things to Do?
Grace: There’s so many things! Just walking around the French Quarter brings us such joy and richness to our day, saying hi to neighbors and shop owners. We’re usually wheeling around a baby and a puppy, so we’re quite popular with locals and tourists. I think some people think we’re a performance art piece. Perhaps we should start charging for pictures… We also love dining and drinking in courtyards, having a beer at the Black Penny or downing a Death in the Afternoon (champagne and absinthe) in Pirates Alley. It doesn't taste like death at all!
Christian: So. Many. Things. But whatever it is, you’ll usually find us getting there on our old Schwinn tandem bike. As many of our favorite things involve good food and a bottle of wine, that’s probably a good thing.
See our previous Love IntheNOLA couples:
Ayo and Stella Scott
Jordan and Alexis Ruiz
Jeff and Reagan Charleston
Terrance and Stephanie Osborne
Lon Nichols and Chriss Knight
Nolan Marshall and Lindsey Darnell
Allen Nguyen and Leslie Pham
Sidney and Cathy Arroyo
Katie Moore and Matthew Derbes
Camille Whitworth and Daniel Victory
Robin Barnes and Pat Casey
Bella Blue and AJay Strong
Charles and Fabiola Divins
Arnold Baker and Tracee Dundas