Samia Mounts got married and moved to Colorado Springs. And they lived happily ever after.
“This story is the happy ending to a tale that has a lot of sordid twists and turns,” she said, by way of introduction.
When we chatted, she had just finished a yoga workout and, I know it’s a cliché, but she was glowing. She’d been married precisely one week and one day; she and her husband Jonny, who, like Samia, is a a musician, were another ten days out from their planned cross-country move from NYC to Colorado Springs. Behind her in the room I could see packing boxes, things ready to be sorted, and kept and transported or discarded and transported.
Everything in the room was, for the brief moment we spoke, in stasis.
As we got the catching-up done first (we hadn’t spoken in years face-to-face), her husband walked in with a few bags of groceries. “Hello!” she called to him, lighting up. “I’m doing this blog project, telling the story about how we ended up here!” “Aha!” I hear from off-screen. “Come kiss me when you get a chance,” she says.
He ducked his head into the frame 20 seconds later, said hello to me, and kissed his wife. It was adorable.
New love is great.
Since Samia and I met in 2007, she’s gone from Seoul to New York City and back for work a few times. In 2018 she moved to Seoul again, but experienced some disillusionment and burnout with the work and her social circle, and set an intention at the New Year to get on a different path.
An old friend, who owns a hotel in Cabo San Lucas, reached out to Samia asking her to find him a singing guitarist who could also do live looping for a nightly gig at his hotel. She emailed her former band leader, who recommended Jonny Mantra. Jonny booked it. The gig later fell through, but it got Samia and Jonny talking.
Jonny was someone whose name Samia knew, but they’d never met. Once upon a time, they’d both performed with the same band, a ten-piece NoLa-inspired jazz funk fusion group that included dancing and costume changes and props and was called Brother Jocephus and the Love Revival Revolution Orchestra, and yes the band is every bit as phenomenal as you’re imagining.
(It’s since divided itself into two different projects.)
Samia and Jonny never gigged together, as she left the group to develop her solo career right before he joined, but a close friend at the time told her: “It’s not fair that I was on this gig and not you, because you would’ve fallen in love with this new guitar player and married him and had his babies.”
Samia laughed it off but didn’t think about it again until she saw his name pop up in relation to the Cabo gig.
She was happy for him, from afar, still back in Seoul plotting her next moves.
The path ahead for the next several months was full of challenges. A few relational mishaps, a few professional ones. She ended up in New York a month earlier than planned because a big voice-over job in California caused her to lose her Korean work visa. To take the job in L.A., Samia had to miss one of their concerts, and they fired her for it.
“Without the visa,” Samia said in a follow-up email, “I couldn’t work legally there. And if I hadn’t come back in June instead of July, I wouldn’t have been able to meet Jonny.”
He was supposed to have been in Cabo by then, but since the gig had fallen through, he had a few weeks before he needed to leave for basic training.
For their first date, they wandered around New York City. They visited the Rubin Museum.
On the top floor of the Union Square Barnes and Noble, Jonny read Samia’s tarot cards from a deck he carried with him, styled with the eye of Horus, an Egyptian sky god. The eye symbol is thought to represent protection, royal power, and good health.
As the reading progressed, Samia noticed that Jonny seemed to have a greater-than-usual intuition about the cards: he called every single card out before he even flipped it over.
He got to the last card, the “future” card. He paused, his hand hovering over the cards.
“What?” she asked.
“This next card that’s coming. I just don’t want you to freak out when you see it,” he said as he flipped it over.
The card was Death.
“All this means,” Jonny quickly assured her, “is that a lot of things that have been important in your life are going to come to an end soon.”
That was June.
A big falling-out with two long-time friends was coming later that summer, though neither could have predicted it at the time.
Jonny told Samia about a pendant he’d bought in Malta. It was made from opalite, and had a tree of life arranged in copper wire. He bought it with an intuition that it was for someone in his future. A former girlfriend had liked it, but Jonny sensed it wasn’t hers.
She proved that by taking it without his consent.
He got it back from her, and broke up with her.
And on their second date, Jonny gave Samia the pendant. “This was for you,” he said.
Their second date also included going dancing at the House of Yes. They kissed in front of a diner, where unbeknownst to them, they were blocking the wheelchair ramp and were promptly hollered at by an older, slow-moving New Yorker grandma (who was not in a wheelchair, and whose friend admonished her for being so cranky with the young lovers).
“New York,” they said to each other.
He left for basic training a few weeks later. They kept up a regular correspondence of handwritten letters (email not allowed in basic), and by one letter, he proposed marriage. She sent back her answer: yes.
“When he was reading the tarot cards,” she says, and here she knows she’s describing a transcendental experience of the sort that folks say can be accessed only by meditation or hallucinogens, “It was like the atoms of all the air and matter around us where shifting away from each other, like I could see through reality as if it was a mesh screen.”
She didn’t tell him about that vision until much later. But she could sense something monumental was changing.
She had often said she’d never get married, and here she was, already planning her future with Jonny.
Reinvention isn’t new for Samia, though; it’s a modality she’s comfortable with.
“It started when I was 18 and I did my first weightlifting program,” she says. “When I was 26, I had this deep inner belief that no one would love me romantically. And it had been pounded into my head by my parents that I would never would be loved if I didn’t lose weight.”
For Samia, the self-love wasn’t about weight loss or needing to be at a particular body size, it was entirely about noticing toxic patterns and working to change them. She ended up losing 30 pounds in the space of six months at the same time that she was working to dismantle the impact of such messaging, after trying to lose the weight for ten years.
In addition to the miss with the band they both played in, Samia says she and Jonny also learned that they had gone to school across the street from each other in Boston for a time in 2006, but never met.
She believes her meditation practice is what finally opened the door for the two of them to be together. And whether you believe in a universal overseer or not, it’s attractive to think that so many misses and coincidences could be cleaned up and tied with such a neat bow.
Samia is clear: “The universe was forcing me. It all makes me believe in a higher power. I feel like I just now got to the place I’ve been trying to get to for the last ten years. If you don’t have unconditional love for yourself, you’re going to constantly be attracted to people who also cannot love you unconditionally.”
For their wedding, they wanted to do things untraditionally, so, perhaps drawing on the theme of the tarot card she’d pulled, they decided their theme would be death and rebirth.
She clarifies: “The death of rescue relationships and unhealthy attachments. The rebirth of totally uninhibited self love, self forgiveness, and self-awareness.”
For the ceremony, she wore a skeleton catsuit, and Jonny’s pinstriped suit was reminiscent of Jack Skellington.
“A wedding is supposed to be about the commitment two people feel,” Samia says. As musicians, she and Jonny have both played a lot of weddings, and the things they’ve seen have given them some distaste for the traditional setup.
“I’ve seen weddings where the groom disappears for hours and the bride gets blackout drunk. Or other people trying to make it about them and fulfill their dreams of what they would have wanted for themselves. And also vendors: The second they find out there’s a wedding, they want to charge you three times more.”
Samia and Jonny wanted to avoid all of that.
“I feel like I’ve shed all that doesn’t serve me, and I’m flying in this much healthier place—where I only subscribe to the values that I actually believe in.”
Samia Mounts is a singer and voiceover actor. She lives in Colorado Springs with Jonny; they hike all the time.