Sofia and Chris
‘meet me at the belmont’ a sign and idiom that we’d love to say was born because of Chris and I—for it’s where we first met; at the Belmont, on La Cienega Blvd, in West Hollywood, California about 9 years ago…
I lived on Ozeta Terrace just up the hill from the Iconic ‘Sunset Strip’, Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood, on this sweet corner in a little studio track of buildings that overlooked the city, and had been there for years. It was an eclectic community of transplants from all walks of life, who came to Los Angeles to pursue dreams of being musicians, artists, actors and models.
While out and about with my neighbor, we found ourselves at the Belmont where Chris was there hangin’ with his friends… My neighbor introduced us, and we had some funny conversations; the first of which involved Chris grabbing my calf and asking me: “dancer or gymnast?” I surprisingly, and curiously answered: “Dancer”. Naturally, we spent the rest of the night bonding over stories highlighting our mutual respect for each other and the dedication and love we shared for both hockey and dance—that shaped so many years of our lives.
I knew Chris was full of character and life when I saw his forest green 90’s Honda, and we had to get in through the drivers side as the passenger door was stuck shut. And that Honda was a character of its own written into Chris’ colorful story, and adventures to and around LA (including the first place we drove to). Chris had learned to skate from his grandmother when he was a youngster, and immediately, fiercely skated across the ice. His love of skating evolved into playing hockey when a family friend of his, Bob Cielo introduced him to the game. He grew up traveling from rink to rink with his family, played in many prestigious hockey events, was drafted 125th overall by the Calgary Flames, went on to play for Notre Dame University on a full scholarship, and played professionally with various South, and East Coast Leagues.
For Chris, life branched in many directions before he rooted in Los Angeles for 17 years. He was discovered by Calvin Klein while telling a dramatic story during brunch in New York City. This happenstance encounter launched his global modeling career starting with his first campaign alongside Kate Moss. His modeling career and charismatic personality led him to acting and ultimately writing. Chris’ life was full of wild adventures that brought him all over the world. And our love of travel was also mutual and grew over the years while we both pursued our Arts in Los Angeles.
A fond memory we share was our first camping trip together for his birthday, early on in our relationship. It was April, and I went to REI and picked up some basic camping gear for him in hopes that he would love camping in nature as much as I did. We headed up Highway 395 (what would later become one of our favorite routes), and on to Yosemite. I had a backup campground booked as I chanced one of Wiwona’s walk-up sites being free. And it was! So we took out his new tent… and I busted the tent pole! It was an adventure back down to the only local camping store to find shelter in a new tent. We made it back before sundown with a Coleman and a tricky zipper to keep us humored. Despite the contrast, it was a perfect trip, and a true foreshadowing of our lives ahead in many ways; of us learning from the seasons, and seeking the silver linings amidst the obstacles in our wild adventures to come.
Our love of spending time outside in nature, often wilderness camping with our dog Lyla, grew over the years, as did our many stories. We moved around Los Angeles (West Hollywood, Topanga Canyon, and Hermosa Beach) living out our dreams as artists, actors, writer(s) with all of the challenges, lessons, and colors that came along with those passionate choices.
Mainly, the most life-altering thus far—the day Christopher was diagnosed with ALS. We were in shock on April 3rd of 2019, and our whole lives changed in an instant. Now Christopher navigates the full spectrum of ALS—physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And I am along for that soul-shaking ride; learning, expanding, loving, evermore.
Our silver lining throughout this journey, has been the community we have both met and have come to know deeper; some of the most heart-lead beauties we’ve ever been blessed to encounter. We are eternally grateful for these connections, and their interconnectedness with each other and the world. From this depth, Chris’ legacy continues with the incarnation of Halt ALS, his growing foundation aspiring to bring about more awareness of ALS and ultimately contribute to Halting it! ALS (as you may well know) has affected our lives in profound ways, of which amidst this rollercoaster, has led us to ultimately love deeper through it all. As one of our cherished authors, Kahlil Gibran so apropos wrote: “For love if it finds you worthy, directs your course…”