Whenever Andrea Camila was feeling sad, she’d cast her mind back to that summer.
That summer, to be precise, was 2014. The summer Andrea first crossed paths with Lewis Kelly. A summer of first love, unforgettable sunsets and – later – a crushing first heartbreak.
Back then, Andrea was 14, “kind of boy-crazy” and on vacation in Clearwater Beach, Florida, with a bunch of friends and family.
Andrea had lived in Florida since moving there from Puerto Rico as a young kid. But while it was familiar territory, there was something different about hanging out in the Sunshine State on a vacation, versus being there during the school year.
Andrea and her friends quickly befriended the other teenagers staying at the hotel. Then, the group whiled away days at the beach, laughing and joking together until the sun sank through the cloudless sky into the ocean.
While most of the kids at the hotel were from the US, there was one notable exception: a 16-year-old Irish boy called Lewis Kelly.
Unlike the American teenagers, Lewis kept himself to himself, spending his days hanging out with his parents and sunbathing by the pool.
But unbeknownst to Lewis, he was the talk of the resort: the fact he was from Ireland was both intriguing and swoonworthy to the American teenagers – especially Andrea.
She’d spend all day thinking about Lewis, stealing glances whenever she spotted him across the pool.
It was true that Lewis shared an accent with One Direction’s Niall Horan. But he was much quieter than any boybander. He seemed aloof, “a loner,” as Andrea thought back then. She couldn’t figure out how she’d ever get talking to him. But she kept daydreaming all the same.
“I was telling my friends about how cute I thought he was,” recalls Andrea. “I was watching him, whenever we were at the restaurants.”
On one occasion, Andrea was gazing at Lewis as they both sat on opposite sides of the hotel pool. Lewis was unaware, preoccupied with his lunch.
“Andrea saw the whole thing from across the pool, and she started laughing. I didn’t even notice that she started laughing because I was so shocked that I just got robbed by a bird.”
While Lewis was oblivious, Andrea’s friend wasn’t. She side-eyed her as Andrea giggled.
“Alright,” said Andrea’s friend. “Enough is enough. We’re going to talk to him.”
Andrea protested, but it was too late. Her friend had already grabbed her arm and was making a beeline for Lewis.
“I was like, ‘No, please,’” recalls Andrea. “But then we went up to each other. And it was obviously perfect.”
Andrea and Lewis hit it off instantaneously, first laughing about the seagull and the cookie, then chatting about Ireland and the US.
Right away, it was obvious that Lewis was less of a loner, and more just the odd one out among a group of American teenagers, and a bit too shy to introduce himself to the other kids unprompted. Heartened by this, Andrea suggested they could all hang out later that day, at the hotel’s lounge. Lewis said he’d definitely swing by.
“I just thought she was going to be a friend,” says Lewis. “And then, obviously, that didn’t happen. We became a lot more than friends.”
Still, this didn’t happen right away. When Lewis made it to the lounge that day, the other teenagers flocked to him before Andrea could even say hi.
“Everyone was all over him, like, ‘Oh my god, your accent is so cute,’” she says. “Everyone was obsessed with him, creating a circle around him.”
Andrea sat back. She didn’t want to be one of the crowd. She wanted a meaningful, one-on-one chat with Lewis.
Later that evening she worried she’d missed her chance. But now that Lewis was part of the gang, he and Andrea had plenty of time to get to know each other over the next few days.
“We gradually hung out a little bit by a little bit,” says Lewis. “Then, after a week, we started realizing we liked each other.”
“I mean, I knew I liked him,” says Andrea, laughing. “He had to realize.”
They shared their first kiss in the rain. They went for walks on the beach. They swam in the pool together.
But their happiness was tempered by the knowledge that their summer romance would be fleeting. Lewis lived in Ireland, Andrea lived in the US. Sure, they could try and keep in contact. But they were teenagers with no means to travel across the world to visit one another. It was hard to see how it could work out.
“He told me he loved me right before he got his bus to the airport,” says Andrea. “And I hadn’t even thought about love. At that point, I was 14. I was like, ‘What? He loves me. This means he’s my first love. What is happening?’”
Andrea was so overwhelmed by the thought that she didn’t say the words back until Lewis had already started to walk away. She said them anyway, under her breath.
From first love to first heartbreak
Now on different continents, Andrea and Lewis stayed in touch via Facebook Messenger and Skype.
It was doable at first. But then Lewis traveled to the Irish countryside with a group of friends and had no internet access while he was there.
When Andrea didn’t hear from him, she assumed he’d forgotten about her.
“He didn’t let me know that he wasn’t going to have Wi-Fi,” she says. “I just thought I was being ghosted.”
Although Andrea felt she and Lewis “were supposed to be in love forever,” she figured he saw her as just a summer fling.
So, she sent him a message that was more like a “paragraph,” essentially saying: “This is actually not okay, what you’re doing. I’m not going to deal with it.’”
In the message Andrea sounded definitive, like she knew what she wanted and what she wouldn’t put up with. But in reality, she was a 14-year-old going through her first heartbreak. For months afterward, Andrea cried every day.
“For the first good year, I was literally head over heels, absolutely in love,” she recalls. “Even like a year later, I remember I had a New Year’s kiss with someone, and I felt so bad. I was like, ‘It’s not Lewis, I’m betraying Lewis.’ Even though, literally, we hadn’t been together for months. But it felt like a betrayal.”
Time went on.
“Obviously, after years go by, it becomes a little bit less intense,” says Andrea.
But even so, she still thought about Lewis often. They each remained vaguely aware of one another, privy to social media updates but not knowing much else.
For a while, Lewis went through a period of sending Andrea constant Snapchats. They left her conflicted.
“I remember, it would just bring back all the feelings,” she says. “It was really upsetting because I was like, ‘We’re not together. It’s been years.’”
Andrea sent Lewis a text, asking him to rein in the Snapchats: “You’re a blast from the past that I don’t want to remember,” she wrote.
Despite this, Andrea says she was still “totally obsessed” with Lewis. That’s why she’d often find herself thinking about summer 2014 and daydreaming. She wouldn’t dwell on the sad ending, and would just revisit the memories of the happy, sun-drenched haze.
Lewis didn’t fully let go of Andrea either.
“Throughout the years, randomly, Andrea would pop into my head,” he says.
On one such occasion, in 2017, Lewis typed a note to himself in his iPhone: “I will marry Andrea Camila.”
The action felt instinctual. The note felt like a premonition.
Despite this feeling of certainty, Lewis didn’t reach out to Andrea. By then, it had been years since they’d messaged directly. Lewis just felt weirdly sure he and Andrea would just reunite, eventually.
An unexpected reunion
Cut to spring 2018. Andrea was 18 and had just graduated high school. Lewis was 20 and midway through a degree at Dublin City University.
Looking back, neither is quite sure how it started. But, suddenly, out of the blue, they started messaging again.
“And on that same day that we started messaging, I was like ‘I’ll come to Florida, and then you can come to Europe, and then we can go interrailing, we can travel all around Europe,’” recalls Lewis.
“We made all these plans literally within an hour of starting to text again,” says Andrea.
“And we actually went through with them,“ adds Lewis.
Lewis booked a flight to Florida for July 2018. Over the two months, he and Andrea messaged back and forth constantly. Then they moved on to regular FaceTime calls.
“We were having an amazing time,” says Andrea. “We literally became best friends in that amount of time.”
At first, Andrea was sure they were flirting. She figured Lewis flying to Florida to visit her was for sure a grand gesture.
“This is going to be romantic,” she thought. “We’re so cute.”
Then, as the date of his arrival got ever closer, Andrea started doubting herself.
“Maybe he doesn’t see this the way I see this,” she thought. “Maybe he just wants to be friends. I don’t want this to be weird.”
Lewis had the same anxieties.
“You overthink things,” he says. “Especially when you’re in that talking phase, you overthink everything.”
Still, Lewis imagined that when Andrea saw him at the airport, she’d run into his arms. He expected it’d be a romantic reunion, reflective of all the years they’d spent apart. On the airplane over, he looked forward to the moment.
Instead, when they saw each other again at arrivals, Andrea played it cool.
“I was just like, ‘Hey, man. How are you doing?’” she recalls. “I just didn’t want to give him the impression that I was the girl obsessing over him.”
Andrea was also a bit flustered because Lewis caught her just as she was about to head into the airport bathroom. In the end, the moment wasn’t what either of them expected.
“It was definitely awkward,” says Lewis. “I think it was scary and awkward and nerve wracking.”
“When you’re talking on FaceTime, I don’t know, it’s such a different thing than being in person with someone,” says Andrea. “Since we hadn’t seen each other for four years, it was just like, ‘How do we act? Are we supposed to be as flirty and cute as we are on FaceTime? Or do we need to treat this as like a new thing, kind of, because this is a real, in-person encounter?’”
These questions continued to whirl around Andrea’s head as she drove Lewis back to her dad’s lakeside cottage, and showed him around the house.
But, by the evening, Lewis and Andrea were lying together on the dock, looking up at the night sky together, starting to feel at ease.
“We just laid there on these blankets, and were stargazing.” says Andrea. “We talked for hours. And so it became really comfortable. But it was still not romantic. Neither of us was wanting to take that step yet.”
Over the next couple of days, every evening, Lewis would leave the guest room he was staying in and go into Andrea’s room. They’d sit together, watching anime on her laptop. These moments always felt charged.
“I think he’d always be about to kiss me, but then turn away and not kiss me,” says Andrea. “Then, finally, one day he kissed me. I think it was about a week after.”
“I was building up the courage to officially ask her out,” says Lewis. “I don’t know why I got so nervous, it took me so long.”
When he actually said the words aloud, it was Friday July 13, 2018. Later, Andrea and Lewis looked over their Facebook messages and old photos from summer 2014. They did the math and realized they’d met on a Friday the 13th too.
“It’s a crazy coincidence,” says Andrea. “For other people. It’s an unlucky day. But for us, it’s literally the luckiest thing.”
Committing to the future
For a couple of days, it all felt like fate. Andrea and Lewis were giddy with happiness.
But then, as Lewis prepared to head back to Ireland, Andrea panicked. Yes, they had the European interrailing trip planned. But then what? She wasn’t sure she could take the heartbreak of a relationship with Lewis ending all over again.
“I was like, ‘It’s not going to work. It doesn’t make sense. Explain it to me, how’s it going to work? You live in Ireland, I live over here. This doesn’t make sense at all,’” Andrea recalls.
“He started crying. He was like, ‘I wasn’t thinking about all these things. I just want to be with you.’ He basically proposed to me. He basically said, ‘All I know is I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’”
At this – and the tears – Andrea was totally taken aback.
“It was so intense,” she recalls. “I thought I was the one who was head over heels for him, now he’s literally professing his entire love to me.”
Andrea felt like she needed to bring a dose of reality to the situation.
“Hold on a second, man,” she said. “What are you saying? You want to marry me? We’re just 18 and 20.”
“I wasn’t thinking about all of the ways it wouldn’t work,” replied Lewis. “I just want to make it work and be with you.”
At this, Andrea started crying.
“You know what, you’re right,” she said, once her sobs had subsided. “We’re going to make this work. And it’s going to happen.”
The conversation felt like a promise. Later that summer, as planned, Andrea and Lewis went interrailing together, enjoying traveling through Europe by train. Then, they committed to the long distance, transatlantic relationship.
The couple made it “bearable,” as Andrea puts it, by always planning when they were next going to see each other.
Andrea spent all her free time babysitting and working as a delivery driver to save money for flights. When Lewis wasn’t studying, he worked in a store, and scoured the internet for low cost flights.
Still, the following year, in 2019, Andrea and Lewis started to struggle with the distance.
“It just didn’t make sense to be apart,” says Andrea. “We were just aligned, we needed to be together.”
On a whim, Andrea booked a flight to Ireland. She temporarily moved in with Lewis and his family for three months. His family welcomed her, while Andrea’s parents were “supportive” of her decision.
“They really liked Lewis,” she says. “They’d met him that summer, when he came in 2018. And they had also met him in 2014 a little bit. So they knew him, and they knew he was a good guy.”
When, after three months in Ireland, Andrea’s visa ran out, they swapped and Lewis visited Andrea in Florida for three months.
This started a pattern that continued for a while – they’d alternate three months in each other’s home countries, occasionally meeting in other destinations instead.
They were both interested in filmmaking, and around this time started filming YouTube videos together. At first, these videos didn’t get many views. But Andrea and Lewis’s audience engagement was good from the beginning. Viewers seemed to be invested in their chemistry and love story.
The couple decided to dedicate as much time as they could to content creating, working part time jobs on the side to fund their endeavors. Lewis dropped out of college.
“We were like, ‘Why would we make a plan B? We don’t need to go to college to do this.’ We know we love making videos. So let’s just only do that,” says Andrea.
It was in the early days of the pandemic, says Andrea, that the gamble paid off and the couple “blew up” on social media.
“Because everyone was on their phone. Everyone was on the internet, and that’s when people started finding us,” says Andrea. “And we just started getting more followers. We went on TikTok, and it was crazy.”
From there, Andrea and Lewis started sharing updates on their lives on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, including in 2021, the moment Lewis asked Andrea to marry him.
A proposal and a wedding
On the day of the proposal, Lewis organized a jam-packed day and scavenger hunt around Florida – packing in everything from jet skiing, indoor skydiving, to, finally, a beach picnic.
Lewis pretended the picnic was a social media brand deal to throw Andrea off the scent. When the truth was revealed, Andrea welled up.
“It was definitely very emotional,” she says. “We were both bawling.”
In January 2023, Andrea and Lewis got married at Azulik Uh May, a contemporary art museum in a Mexican jungle. Naturally, it was a Friday 13 – it seemed only right. The couple say the wedding day was “a dream.”
In her vows to Lewis, Andrea voiced how, while she was excited to marry him, her overall feeling was a sense of calm and certainty.
“What I feel is just natural,” she said to him. “It’s not like, ‘Wow everything is going to change.’ It’s just natural.”
Today, reflecting on the wedding day, Andrea says she just felt “this is just what’s meant to be happening and what’s meant to be. It just felt amazing to share that with all of our friends and family.”
A ‘magnetic pull’
Today, several months into married life, Andrea and Lewis are looking towards the future – a future they expect to be defined by travel.
Come September, they’re planning to visit all 48 contiguous US states in an old American school bus they’ve been busy converting. Longterm, the couple imagine splitting their time between the US, Puerto Rico and Ireland, while also spending plenty of time on the road.
Andrea and Lewis are still young, at 23 and 25, but next year will mark the 10-year anniversary of the summer they met on vacation.
Over the years, it was just some magnetic pull towards each other.
“We always think about what would 14 and 16 year old us think, if they saw us married,” says Lewis. “We were just on vacation, and we just fancied each other.”
“I can’t get over it,” says Andrea. “And whenever I think about it, I feel like it’s just magic or something. It just doesn’t make sense, but in the best way.”
Andrea and Lewis also find it surreal to think of their four years apart, their unexpected reunion, and their period of long distance.
They’re grateful, says Andrea, that “we found each other after.”
“I think it’s like a weird magic thing,” she says.
“Clearly, over the years, it was just some magnetic pull towards each other,” says Lewis.