CONWAY — Two pieces of the same puzzle, isn’t that a romantic view of what it means to be a couple?
It’s literally true for community activists Emily Smith-Mossman of North Country Cares/the Revolving Closet and husband Greg Mossman, both of whom are jewelers at Emily’s family’s business, North Country Fair Jewelers.
They have tattoos of complementary puzzle pieces on their arms that when put together, equal a whole.
“We have matching tattoo pieces on our arms because we call each other the ‘missing puzzle piece’ — and the puzzle pieces connect to one another when we hold our arms together. That pretty much sums up how we feel about one another,” said Greg, 44. Originally from Florida, Greg moved to the valley from Philadelphia to work as a sous chef after coming here on vacation and falling in love with the mountains.
He first took notice of Emily when both were independently visiting a friend’s tattoo parlor 15 years ago.
“His friends told him to stay away from me, that I was trouble!” laughed Emily, 39, who was named a White Mountain Treasure by the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce in 2014. She is known for her work with such community causes as the Revolving Closet local teen boutique and its umbrella organization, North Country Cares.
“I had seen her a few times there at the shop, and I had asked about her,” said Greg.
“It was love at first sight, unlike anything I had ever experienced,” said Emily. Added Greg, “It was wild as soon as we met one another, as I had never felt that way before.”
Just three weeks after they first met, while enjoying sushi on a date to Portland, Greg turned to Emily and said, “You know, I don’t want to spend my life with anyone but you.”
“I answered, ‘Me, too!’” said Emily. “We wanted to get married right away, so we ran to the Portland City Hall, but it was closing, so we came home to North Conway and opened up the phone book to look up justices of the peace. "We called Kim Steward and she told us the steps to take — and we set the date.”
The date they agreed upon? Two days later — none of that long-range planning for them!
They got their marriage license at Conway Town Hall on the day in between, and had their ceremony atop Cathedral Ledge, with just two friends invited to attend.
Afterward, they walked into her dad Brian Smith’s jewelry shop and announced the news: “I introduced Greg — who was dressed up in a purple shirt and a bow tie — to Dad as my husband." Emily recalled. "Dad’s reaction was hysterical — he grabbed the counter, and said, ‘Welcome to the family!’”
Though her mother, the late Jackie Smith, was more taken aback, Greg eventually won her over in time with his gentle kindness.
Emily says getting married the way she did was typical for her.
“I’ve always joked with my dad, that I should write a book and call it, ‘So I Married a Stranger and Other Smith Family Tales.’”
“Some people get to know each other and get married. We did it the other way around!” she related.
As for their friends at the tattoo parlor? “They were totally surprised when we walked in and said we had gotten married — at first they thought we were joking!” related Greg.
Two years later, they invited 50 family members and friends to redo the ceremony, once again atop Cathedral Ledge, with Steward once again performing the honors.
Leaving the culinary arts, Greg joined Emily at North Country Fair, bringing the same creative flair he had shown as a chef to the jewelry-making craft.
His most recent artistic creation is a MWV Rec Path pendant, which is being sold as a fundraiser by the non-profit organization that plans to build a 2.9-mile paved recreation path from Cranmore to Walmart. The sterling silver pendant is available at several locations, including at North Country Fair.
Greg also has a son from a previous relationship, Jaden, now 15, who lives with them. The couple has a daughter, Nico, 11.
An avid vintage bicycle collector, Greg has a passion for bicycles. Often on weekends, when he needs to get a bicycle part, he and Emily pile in the car with Nico (Jaden works weekends and is also an avid basketball player and photographer) and they go and explore.
“We like to go to cool restaurants and museums, making it a day to explore and have fun,” said Greg. Added Emily, “We go and get the part, then do random things, often in places where we’ve never been.”
Asked to name the glue that makes their relationship work, they both said it’s about being supportive of one another and never letting issues get in the way of their deep-down love and respect.
“The core value we share is that we stay in love — it always comes back to our love for each other, as that will reflect on our kids and everything else going on around us,” said Emily.
Added Greg, “We may have different views, but it works because we come together at the end.”
Yes, like pieces of the same puzzle.