October 4, 2022
http3A2F2Fcdn.cnn .com2Fcnnnext2Fdam2Fassets2F211206154523 12 view from my window photos restricted ArlUY4

(CNN) — It was the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Reggie Laroche, caught in his Florida residence, was struggling to remain optimistic.

Laroche’s job in tv as soon as took him round the globe. Now, he was confined to the identical 4 partitions, not sure what the future held.

The group had been arrange by Amsterdam-based Barbara Duriau that March, when Covid restrictions first hit Europe.

Members had been inspired to add photographs of the views from their houses, accompanied by a quick description of what they may see, the place they had been and the way they had been feeling.

When Laroche found the group, it felt like a glimmer of mild in the darkness.

“The web page was designed actually to offer folks hope,” he tells CNN Travel at present. “I discovered myself clicking by way of all the footage and simply feeling like for a second I used to be touring once more.”

When Laroche found “View From My Window” it was Could 2020. There have been three months value of window photographs for him to scroll by way of. He might pore over snowy scenes from Switzerland, rooftop views from Italy and expansive landscapes in New Zealand.

However one {photograph} specifically caught his eye. A latest shot, taken from a entrance porch: blue sky, even bluer sea, framed by lush greenery.

It was uploaded by somebody known as Kathy Antoine, who’d captioned it with the location: Punaauia, Tahiti in French Polynesia. It was the view from her house workplace, overlooking Morrea Island, Antoine wrote. With a view like that, she added, working from house wasn’t too unhealthy.

The earlier yr, Laroche had spent a while in Tahiti and fallen in love with the island. Antoine’s photo took him proper again to that journey.

“I used to be immediately reminded of the magnificence of the place, the those that I met, the meals, all the pieces,” he says now.

He saved coming again to the photo.

“I simply instantly felt drawn to it,” he says.

He was so taken with the scene that merely liking the photo felt inadequate. He composed a message to this stranger.

“I actually loved your image,” he wrote, and despatched her a pal request.

Kathy Antoine posted this {photograph} of the view from her window in Tahiti in Could 2020, capturing Florida-resident Reggie Laroche’s consideration.

Courtesy Reggie Laroche and Kathy Antoine

On the other side of the world, Kathy Antoine picked up Reggie Laroche’s message and thought of the best way to reply.

A pal had initially pointed her in the direction of “View From My Window,” and Antoine had joined the Fb group instantly.

“I favored the idea of giving other folks hope, and bringing other folks the alternative to see one other view other than their view,” Antoine tells CNN Journey at present.

She’d been impressed to add her personal photo, and had been happy when her view had resonated, receiving some 15,000 likes.

Then the Fb message from Laroche popped up.

Whereas Antoine appreciated him reaching out, she wrote again explaining she wouldn’t be including him as a Fb pal.

“I politely declined, as a result of I normally don’t settle for strangers,” says Antoine at present.

However she didn’t delete the request. And in the months that adopted, Fb saved reminding her of Reggie Laroche, sending reminders and suggesting him as “somebody you could know.”

Usually, when she acquired these notifications, Antoine would examine Laroche’s Fb profile. His settings meant she might see his photographs and posts, although they weren’t formally related.

Every time she noticed Antoine’s latest updates, she was intrigued.

“I actually favored the sensitivity by way of the footage he was posting,” she says at present. “Heaps of issues might have been my posts, really.”

Nearly a yr later, in April 2021, Antoine belatedly accepted Laroche’s pal request. The Fb notification had popped up once more, and he or she’d determined to hit the settle for button. At that time, he didn’t appear to be a stranger in the approach he had the yr earlier than.

As for Laroche, Kathy Antoine and her gorgeous Tahitian view had receded from his thoughts. When he acquired the notification that she’d accepted his pal request, he was confused — and puzzled if she was somebody he’d met throughout his 2019 Tahiti journey.

He scrolled by way of her web page, searching for clues, then noticed her photo of that view, with the mountains, sea and sky. It clicked — she was the girl from “View From My Window.”

Now formally Fb mates, Laroche and Antoine began liking and commenting on each other’s posts, with the occasional message.

“We began to speak, simply sort of pleasant banter right here and there over the subsequent month or so,” is how Laroche places it.

Californian connection

Antoine has lived in Tahiti for many of her life, however she has a home in southern California, and as summer season 2021 began to unfold, journeying from French Polynesia to the US gave the impression to be on the playing cards for the first time in a whereas, so Antoine began planning a journey to the States.

She messaged Laroche, and discovering he was going to be in Los Angeles round the identical time, instructed they may meet whereas she was over there.

Larcohe was the just one of Antoine’s Fb connections that she’d by no means met in particular person, and he or she felt she ought to rectify that.

She additionally thought it might be enjoyable to make a new pal, and from their social media interactions, felt positive she would take to each other with Laroche.

Anotine and Laroche met for the first time in the Manchester Grand Hyatt lodge on San Diego bay in August 2021.

Antoine says she wasn’t nervous, as she had no actual expectations. Laroche says he had some trepidation, largely as a result of he’d acquired so used to Zoom interactions, and the concept of assembly somebody new, in particular person, felt a little surreal.

Laroche waited in the lodge foyer, looking for Antoine. When an SUV pulled up with tinted home windows, he puzzled if he was about to see a celeb visitor examine into the lodge.

When the automotive pulled away, he realized the automotive had really dropped off Antoine — with a pal in tow.

The group stated their hellos. Antoine and Laroche say they each felt comfortable instantly.

“Immediately, it was as if we had been finest mates,” says Laroche. “We began having a dialog, I felt fully snug along with her.”

After these first introductions, Laroche, Antoine and Antoine’s pal headed to downtown San Diego. They checked out the historic USS Halfway ship, earlier than going out to dinner collectively.

As they wandered round the metropolis, Laroche and Antoine chatted about their lives, and felt their prompt bond solidify, though they weren’t positive the place it might go.

“I used to be feeling that I had simply met somebody very particular,” says Laroche. “However I wasn’t considering but that this was going to be a relationship, I wasn’t in that mindset.”

The following day, Laroche and Antoine met up once more — this time, with out Antoine’s pal.

Over Mexican meals, and later as they wandered the streets of San Diego, their dialog continued and their connection deepened.

“It was actually an incredible feeling of somebody you simply met, and you’re feeling such as you’ve identified the particular person for a very long time,” says Antoine.

One thing had shifted, and so they each felt it.

“I discovered myself simply naturally holding her hand,” says Laroche.

Laroche was alleged to be leaving California the subsequent day, however he postponed his flight. Antoine invited him to journey along with her to her home in Palm Springs.

Antoine was to postpone his flight once more a few days later. The 2 spent the relaxation of Antoine’s keep in the US collectively.

“I used to be interested in him, to his soul,” says Antoine at present.

“It rapidly, rapidly was one thing greater than friendship as a result of there was like a soul connection that was actually, actually wonderful.”

When the time got here for Antoine to fly again to Tahiti, the two knew they’d do all the pieces they may to see each other once more as quickly as doable.

And certainly, solely a few weeks later, Laroche was on a flight to Tahiti.

‘Transformational’ assembly

Reggie Laroche and Kathy Antoine are actually a couple.

Courtesy Reggie Laroche and Kathy Antoine

The 2 spent a lot of this previous fall collectively in French Polynesia, with Laroche’s versatile work schedule permitting him to work from there.

“It’s been, in such a quick interval of time, transformational, stunning,” he says of their relationship thus far.

Their connection, the two say, is constructed on a deep respect for each other.

“Reggie is a unbelievable particular person, he is aware of so many issues — he’s traveled the world,” says Antoine. “He’s a very robust particular person, however at the identical time he’s delicate as effectively, and he’s very humble.”

“I really feel like I’ve been touring the seven seas, and searching for somebody to share life with, and now I discovered her, and all this time she was hiding on a tiny little island in the center of the South Pacific,” says Laroche.

Barbara Duriau, the creator of “View from my Window”, says Laroche and Antoine’s story is what makes the Fb group she’s constructed so particular.

It’s a neighborhood, now boasting over two million members, that’s based mostly on “empathy, kindness, benevolence, dream and escape,” she tells CNN Journey.

Duriau can be grateful to have created one thing hopeful in a darkish interval. “Borders had been closed, home windows and minds had been opened,” is how she places it.

In latest months, Duriau has self-published two books, collating some stand-out posts and tales from the “View From My Window” neighborhood.

She all the time loves seeing the photographs, Duriau says, however it’s what’s behind the view that stands out.

“Above all, it’s the tales behind the footage that contact me. They’re humorous or shifting, and a few offer you goosebumps,” she says.

“Behind every photo is the story of an abnormal particular person, their imaginative and prescient of life. It’s only one particular person’s little nook of the world that finds its place in the huge image that’s the planet.”

In addition to Laroche and Antoine’s romance, Duriau says other friendships and connections have shaped throughout continents by way of the group.

Her second ebook ends with the story of an American “View From My Window” member who was impressed to color a view uploaded by a Frenchman in Dordogne, France, and in summer season 2021 met him in particular person whereas on a French trip.

Duriau hopes extra folks in the neighborhood could possibly meet when circumstances permit, and he or she’s planning a “View From My Window” exhibition in Brussels in 2022.

As for Laroche and Antoine’s future, they hope to separate their time between the US and Tahiti.

For now, Laroche’s job affords him extra flexibility to journey, so the couple are largely spending time collectively in Tahiti. In the future, they are saying they’d love to discover the world collectively.

However the view from Antoine’s window in Punaauia will all the time have a particular significance for them each.

In November 2021, Laroche posted his personal {photograph} of the view to the Fb group, this time with the solar setting over the ocean.

“Once I went to Tahiti, one morning I regarded out and I’m the identical view that had introduced us collectively over a yr and a half in the past,” he says now. “And I used to be simply considering how blessed I’m, that one thing that was as simple as the put up has now introduced me a lot pleasure and happiness.”

Prime photo courtesy Reggie Laroche and Kathy Antoine

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