‘Be Married to Your Best Friend’

Michelle and Mitchell Clay with their daughter, Olivia, and son, Sam. (Provided)

Michelle and Mitchell Clay

First Connection: August 1998

Wedding Date: Nov. 25, 2000

Venue: Chizuk Amuno Congregation

Residence: Baltimore

Favorite Activity: family time, taking walks, going out to dinner, watching Netflix

Mitch and Michelle Clay met on Water Street in 1998 at an outdoor happy hour, on a warm summer evening at a time of year when the bars and restaurants on that quaint street open their doors.

“I actually wasn’t going to go out that night,” Michelle recalled. “My friend made me come with her.”

“We were introduced by a mutual friend and talked, just the two of us, the rest of the night,” Mitch said.

After two weeks of long phone conversations late into the night and crossing paths in their neighborhoods of Federal Hill and Canton, Mitch asked Michelle to a Pearl Jam concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

“It was with a couple of Mitch’s friends too, but that made it relaxed and fun,”  Michelle said.

The romance and friendship grew incrementally and simultaneously, and, Michelle said, continues to grow. “We really liked each other, it was comfortable, we had fun and we laughed a lot,” Michelle said. “But we love each other more right now, more than probably we ever have.”

Mitch proposed in early 2000. He remembered, “At my apartment, we had a Sunday night ritual of getting sushi and hanging out.”

“And eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream,” Michelle added.

“So I emptied out the Ben & Jerry’s container and put the ring inside,” said Mitch.

Mitch and Michelle are  native Baltimoreans: Mitch grew up in Randallstown, while Michelle is originally from Pikesville and grew up in Owings Mills.

After an eight-month  engagement, they held the wedding where Michelle’s parents got married, Chizuk Amuno, on Nov. 25, 2000. Rabbi Joel Zaiman officiated. Michelle and Mitch then headed off to Hawaii.

“A week in Maui and a week on the Big Island,” said Mitch.

“It was perfect,” Michelle  remembered.

Today, Mitch is a hospital administrator at University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, while Michelle manages operations for Blue Coast Savings Consultants. The couple has a daughter, Olivia, who is in 10th grade at Pikesville High School, and a 12-year-old son, Sam, who  attends North Carroll Community School, which  Michelle describes as “a smaller, more progressive school in Westminster.”

As a family, “we do almost everything together,” Michelle said. “We like to be active with the kids. I’m not saying we’re crazy hikers or anything, but we do look for family  activities — active activities.”

The pair likes to go for walks and out to dinner. And they enjoy a good Netflix binge-watch.

“Every time we’re done with something, we can’t live without it,” said Michelle. They’re suffering from this phenomenon now, having just finished watching “Peaky Blinders.” “So we’re sad!” Michelle joked.

Michelle said she loves that Mitch is strong. Also, “I love that he’s handsome, I love that he’s my best friend, and I love that we laugh a lot together.  That can be the best way to go, sometimes.”

Mitch loves Michelle’s “warmth and kind heart. She genuinely cares about the well-being and happiness of others.”

Mitch said partnership is the best part of marriage, while Michelle said she looks forward to seeing Mitch when he comes home from work each evening.

The hardest part about marriage, said Mitch, is “not letting outside pressures infiltrate our household.” Michelle agreed.

Mitch said Michelle is his best friend and would advise anyone looking for a happy marriage to make a similar match.

“Be married to your best friend,” said Mitch. “And know that it does take  work.”

Erica Rimlinger is a local freelance writer.

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