This is the very first photo taken of Ed Hale and Nahal Mishel-Ghashghai together — three days after they met for the first time. The picture was taken on October 15th, 2002 in a hotel ballroom during a 2002 Avatar Course in Orlando, FL. They came from two different worlds, one an engineer and soccer mom who emigrated from Iran; the other an all American rocker boy. She was calm and cool. He was fast and furious. And between Miami and Seattle, they couldn’t live further apart. But the two became instant best friends from the very moment they met in those first few minutes they spent working together on one of the Course’s consciousness exploration exercises.
Ed recalls that he couldn’t shake this voice in his head that took one look at Nahal and kept saying “This is exactly what my wife is going to be like! Wow. Look at that smile! Look at those legs! Look how sweet she is! But SHE’s married! Damn. Okay… so be cool…. just be respectful and don’t vibe anything. Do the work, be a gentleman, shake hands and walk away.”
They spent the rest of the Course getting to know many more people, and making many new friends, but they also spent as much time as they could working together and getting to know each other more. When the Course ended, they found each other crying and in each other’s embrace for a long time. It felt as if they had known each other and been best friends for years, even though it had only been a week, and it was hard to accept they were parting.
Little did either know, or at least want to admit, that they had both fallen madly in love with the other and were secretly journaling about it from the moment each got home, which was revealed soon after. But there was nothing that could be done about it. Ed expressed his feelings in a new song, “Little Tree”,which eventually ended up on the Sleep With You album, based on the English translation of the Farsi word “Nahal” which literally means “little tree or sapling”. And hence started referring to her as Princess Little Tree in his Transcendence Diaries. Now you know. 😉 From that point on she was PLT. She started calling him Prince Baby Joon (hence PBJ).
So BFF’s they became and stayed; both of them cherishing and appreciating the very real and sincere respectfulness and loyalty of the other’s friendship. This lasted until 2004, when they were finally able to fully express how they felt about each other. They dated through most of 2005, until they mutually decided to separate out of love for the other. Allegedly on one trip to Seattle to see PLT’s home and meet her family, Ed brought the Paul McCartney and Wings movie Wingspan to better illustrate how easy and possible it would be for them to both raise and family and have Ed continue his job as a recording artist. Ed was shocked to look over with a big smile on his face, enjoying the film as always, to see PLT balling her eyes out. When he asked her what was wrong, she replied “This is what you want! Oh my God…. This is really how you see yourself living… On a bus with a bunch of a kids going from town to town, living on the road still!”
“Well yeah, that’s why I brought the movie. To show you that it can work, how easy it will be…. We can do this,” he replied.
“My kids are in school already. They have friends. They play soccer! I can’t yank them out of their lives and throw them on a bus with your band guys! You guys don’t even shower or eat right, and you don’t wake up until noon! That’s no life for kids…” This led to a lot of tears, a lot of hugging and Ed leaving the next day.
The prevailing thought that both had was that it was more loving for each “to allow the other to move on with their life so they could create the lives they really wanted”, believing that the obstacles that lay between them were too big and too many. So they broke up.
But friends and soulmates they stayed, regardless of how difficult it was to do at times. No matter how hard they tried they could never quite discreate their feelings for each other… So on and off it went for years. They made up and broke up many times through those years, always believing it was “the right thing to do for the other”. They would meet up on and off all over the world, sometimes friends, sometimes lovers, aways in love. On one such trip in San Francisco where they spent a week together, Ed wrote about this on again off again scenario in the song “Scene in San Francisco”. (again, now you know…)
Whenever the day before their departures arrived, the tears started. They would hold each other and cry for hours, not wanting to fall asleep or waste any time not being together. On the day of their respective flights, both would get quiet. PLT became sad but practical, focusing on packing and logistics, letting the tears just flow. PBJ became sad and angry, focusing on stomping his feet and smashing things.
And then in an instant, everything changed. In the back of the car on the way to the airport, they held hands shaking and crying, and the engineer in PLT looked up at PBJ and said “we’re only upset because we don’t know when we’re going to see each other again. That’s the hardest part.”
“Okay. So if that’s all it is, then what if you fly home and I fly home, and I’ll pack up all my stuff for this trip to Colombia next week and have it ready, and then I’ll turn right around and fly out to Seattle the next day and spend 3 days there with you and then fly back to New York and then on to Colombia…? So we don’t even have to be sad! We’ll see each other in like 2 days!”
Tears turned to smiles. They agreed that they’d never separate again without knowing when they’d see each other next. And that was that. True story. Within a year they were engaged. Within another year they were married. It hasn’t always been easy. Ed spends most of his time either on the road or in New York, while Princess Little Tree lives in Seattle and is only able to join him occassionally. But it works. And the two couldnt be happier.
Theirs is a story that shows that true love really does exist. And in honor of their ten year anniversary, that despite any and all obstacles, it’s not only possible, but can always prevail with enough desire and effort.