Ashley Grigsby and Kyle James are trekking near their home in Asheville, North Carolina. Not long returned from a trip around the world, they are settling back down to life in America. They stop for a breather, and James pulls out the book that he wrote about their journey, fresh from the press. He hands it to Grigsby; she can see that he has written a dedication, and the content is quite unforgettable.
In 2015 James and Grigsby had lived as a couple in Denver, Colorado. They had gone there to escape from the confines of Asheville, a smaller place. But life had become a dreary plod, with James raising funds for a charitable organization and Grigsby working as a kindergarten teacher. Grigsby in particular yearned for the wider horizons that travel could bring into their lives.
So eventually the twosome left behind the routine of their jobs and set off on an adventure. Beginning in New York and then Paris, they went on to visit 38 cities in 15 countries. Their travels took 114 days and certainly did bring them the different perspectives and sights which they had sought.
Indeed, James found the trip thrilling enough to inspire a book. He would explain to TV network ABC News in September 2017 how his travels had informed the work, Not Afraid of The Fall. He said, “Every single one of those cities, we took something from it; this book is built by every single one of those cities.”
When the couple reached the spot where they had enjoyed their very first kiss on a hike near home, and James showed her his book, Grisby probably expected “To Ashley” as the dedication. But James instead had written a message that ended, “Every cliff I jump off, every moped I crash, every morning after a night of food poisoning, every Mediterranean sunset, I want you by my side. I never want to stop exploring with you, Ash. Will you marry me?”