The Garbers. “The first night we met, we went for a walk down Seal Beach pier, and when he held my hand, I felt the sparks then.”
Cameron and Elena Renfro have been married for three years. They live in Chula Vista near where they both work, at EastLake Christian Fellowship. Cameron, 24, is a technical director, and Elena, 21, is an executive assistant.
“I was visiting a friend in Florida,” says Cameron. “It was supposed to be for ten days but ended up being for ten months. I met her the second day I was there. We started out as friends and became best friends over time, and it progressed to where we just knew we were supposed to get married. About ten months after we met, we came back to San Diego and got married at Ellen Browning Scripps Park in La Jolla.”
The Renfros. "When I got back from the U.K., he was at the airport waiting for me."
“I met him right after I returned from an international trip,” says Elena. “I was actually getting ready to head out for a month to the U.K., and he was supposed to return to San Diego, and I thought I would never see him again. When I got back from the U.K., he was at the airport waiting for me, and a few months after that, we were pretty inseparable. A few months later, things progressed, and we fell in love and got married.”
Bill and Jackie Whittaker. “My mother said, ‘Why don’t you go ask Jackie to go to the movies? I’ll give you the money.’"
Bill and Jackie Whittaker always seem to be enjoying themselves, even when everyone around them looks glum. Their relationship started in 1948, when they were two Golden Hill teenagers who lived across the street from each other.
“I knew her as far back as 1946, when I was in high school,” says Bill. “She was just a silly little girl who lived across the street. But she could hit a baseball better than anybody on the block. My sister kept bringing her around, and my mother arranged the first date. My sister and Jackie had a little song-and-dance act, and I was supposed to take them to B’nai B’rith to perform. I said, ‘I don’t want to take that crazy nut!’ My mom gave me $2, so I agreed, and when we got down there, the show was canceled. So it ends up she hooked me into a hayride. It cost me 20 bucks — $5 for her, $5 for me, and I had to pay for my sister and her date. Can you imagine what 20 bucks was in 1948?”
“He wasn’t hooked into anything,” Jackie says. “He enjoyed every minute of it. I think he was kind of tickled about it. That hayride did it!”
“I never said I didn’t enjoy it!” Bill says.
In 1949 they got married. Jackie, now 71, stayed home and raised the kids. Bill, 75, is a coach — the only job he’s ever had (he began coaching at his former grade school, Our Lady of Angels, in 1942). For 55 years, he’s worked both part-time and full-time with the city’s recreation department, where he still works two days a week, and he taught and coached at St. Augustine High School for 35 years.
“I married him at 18,” says Jackie. “Right after I got out of high school.”
“My first real date with her was on New Year’s Eve in 1948,” Bill says. “My mother said, ‘Why don’t you go ask Jackie to go to the movies? I’ll give you the money.’ She gave me four streetcar tokens and $2. Back then, it only cost 70 cents to get into the movies. We went to the Fox Theater [now Copley Symphony Hall] and saw…what was it?”
“The Captain from Castile,” says Jackie.
“That’s right,” says Bill. “But when I went over to her house, I knocked on the door, and Jackie took me into the kitchen so that we wouldn’t interrupt her grandma listening to the radio. So we sat in the kitchen and soon her mother told her that there was someone at the door to see her. Well, I looked out there, and there was this damned sailor. So she stays out there for a few minutes and comes back in; then there’s another knock. I look outside, and it’s a damn Marine! Then there was another knock, and another guy showed up! Three guys came that night, and she left me in the kitchen!”
“But I came right back!” says Jackie.
Seven children, 17 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren later, the Whittakers are still together, living in an apartment in Hillcrest. They attribute the success of their marriage to their deep friendship.
“I think it’s understanding,” Jackie says.
“We ended up being good friends,” says Bill, “and we were good friends before we started getting serious. We’ve never needed a lot of people around. We’ve always had fun, and we’ve always been able to laugh. I told my boys, ‘You know you’ve got the right girl when you’d rather be with her than standin’ down on a street corner, drinking beer and telling lies.’ Very rarely have we ever left the house when we got mad at each other.”
“I think in a lot of marriages, people get into a rut,” Jackie says. “And you don’t have to get in a rut, regardless of how much money you have or anything else. It’s how much you want to give of yourself that makes the difference. I think that’s the whole story. We’re all different. We have different personalities and different interests, and understanding that is important. And it takes you a while to get to that point. It’s a constant source of learning. There’s ups and there’s downs, but we’re able to swim through that. And we don’t like to be mad at each other.”
Andy and Debbie Gorman. “He would make cat howls at me in the credit union. For the first six months after I met him, I hated him."
When electrician Andy Gorman walked into the Navy Federal Credit Union in June 1979, he experienced love at first sight. For Debbie, now his wife, it took a bit longer.
“He would make cat howls at me in the credit union,” Debbie says. “I was pounds lighter then and had longer hair. For the first six months after I met him, I hated him. He didn’t show up for a few months; then he popped in again, and I helped him get a car loan. When we were talking, he asked me out to lunch. By December of ’79, I knew I was in love with him, and we moved in together. I was previously married, and I didn’t tell him that I had a child until about two months after that lunch.”
As it turned out, Andy had a child of his own.
“I loved her the minute I looked at her,” Andy says. “I knew I was going to marry her, and I told her so. We lived together to make sure. I used to serenade her with my guitar, sitting on the back bumper of her car.”
After three years together, they got married. They’ve lived in Lemon Grove for the past 19 years and are now grandparents.
“We’ve made it because of good communication,” Debbie says. “There’s no jealousy.”
“And trust,” adds Andy.
Sam and Jennifer. “He’s hot, I thought that immediately.”
Sam Bracamonte, 17, met Jennifer Fornario, 21, through a mutual friend. Sam is on home study with Mount Miguel High School, while Jennifer looks for a job. Both live in Spring Valley. Together for four months, they can’t remember where they met.
“I think it was at a mall,” Jennifer says.
“Yeah,” agrees Sam. “Or a party.”
Neither took long to fall in love.
“He’s hot,” says Jennifer. “I thought that immediately.”
“It was the same thing,” says Sam. “She’s hot.”
When asked if they think they have a future together, Sam says, “Yeah,” and Jennifer nods in agreement.
Marge and Jim Behrendt. "I started putting her letters up on the bulletin board for all the other Marines to see."
Marge Behrendt, 62, and her husband Jim, 63, live in San Carlos. They met in Chicago in 1957 just after Jim had enlisted in the Marine Corps.
“I was 17,” says Marge. “He was so handsome.”
“When she saw me, she fainted just from looking at me!” says Jim. “My mother tried to fix me up with this friend of hers, Linda. Linda was going to show me off to her friend Marge, and when Marge fainted, I had to carry her into the house. She was out like a light! It was like she was slain in the Spirit!”
They both laugh.
“I went on to make fun of her,” says Jim. “I thought she was crazy when she fainted.”
“For the next year or so,” says Marge, “we stayed in touch through letters. He was off in Japan.”
“She wanted to write,” adds Jim, “so we started writing each other, and as a joke, I started putting her letters up on the bulletin board for all the other Marines to see. So another Marine started writing her, and she started sending him boxes of cigars and food, and I got jealous!”
“That’s what I was trying to do!” says Marge.
“After I got out of the Marine Corps,” says Jim, “I didn’t think of her. But one day I said to my mother, ‘Remember that Marge, Linda’s friend? I got a lot of letters from her, and I’d like to go meet her and just talk to her.’ I figured she was married, so I thought, ‘What the heck, I’ll write a letter.’ So I got her address from a friend and wrote to her. She said she wasn’t married, so I drove over to her house and met her. We went on our first date together and saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman.”
“Yes,” says Marge. “And five years later we saw the movie!”
“Yeah!” Jim says, laughing. “We steamed up the windows!”
They dated for four months and were married in 1959. After 43 years together, they have six children and ten grandchildren. Marge kept the house for most of their marriage, until Jim, a martial arts instructor, was forced to retire because of bad knees. Now Marge works as a financial unit technician for a local insurance company, while Jim takes care of their apartment and cooks.
“I think what’s made our marriage work is our ability to change,” says Marge. “When we got married, the priest told us, ‘For the rest of your life, everything you have is equally yours. If you only have one piece of bread, you divide it in half, equally.’ Well, we’ve made a game out of that for 43 years. When there’s an apple, we’ll cut it right smack in half. But the idea is to share, and Jim’s more sharing than I am. But you have to change too. When we first got married, we were a typical family, and he didn’t do any household duties. Nothing. And I took care of the kids. But 13 years ago, when I went to work for the first time, things slowly changed. Now I’m working full time, and he’s retired and does all the household duties, and I do nothing. We’ve completely switched roles, and not intentionally. He’s become a better cook than I am, and I’m a darned good cook!”
Jim and Marge are constantly laughing, which seems an essential ingredient of their longevity as a couple. But like other couples, they’ve had their difficulties.
“She had a brother who was about six-four and weighed about 280, and, she used to bully him,” Jim says. “She was a feisty little thing. Anyway, when we first got married, we lived on the third floor — it was actually an attic of this big old house that looked like a castle. We got in an argument, and we started fighting, and we tumbled down three flights of stairs — just like in a cowboy movie. She got me trapped in a little spot and started choking me, and I got scared! But she made a mistake and reached her arm out, and I put her in an armlock, and that was the end of it. But she almost had me. She scared the hell out of me!”
“Irish temper!” explains Marge. “But his humor has saved us a lot of times. I can be so mad at him that I’d be seeing red, and he’ll come out with one sentence, some one-liner out of his head, and I’ll burst out laughing!”
“She can take lots of punishment!” says Jim.
David and Traci Lawson. "We started dating secretly, without letting anyone know, as we weren’t sure if it was acceptable or not."
David Lawson, 32, married Traci, 37, three years ago after dating for a little more than a year. David studies computer science at Mesa College, while Traci works as a director of store operations for Charlotte Russe’s corporate office. They live in Serra Mesa.
“We met through work,” says David. “I was in Charlotte Russe’s construction department, and she was in operations. We started dating secretly, without letting anyone know, as we weren’t sure if it was acceptable or not. After a year or so of dating, I knew. We took a vacation down to Mexico, and I proposed and gave her a ring. I already had another job lined up.”
“He asked me out on a date, and I said no. I didn’t think it was right,” explains Traci. “Then I thought, ‘Why isn’t it right?’ So we went out on a date, and for me, it was on that first date. There was a connection and a chemistry, and it was pretty serious after that.”
“Our first date was the play Beauty and the Beast,” says David.
“It gets even better,” says Traci. “After he proposed, we announced it at work, and he gave notice that he was leaving for another job. The chairman of the board at work said, ‘You are not quitting.’ After that, David, the president of the company, and everybody was in on planning a surprise wedding for us. I knew nothing about it. I thought I was attending a meeting.”
“One week prior to a big meeting,” says David, “I drove down to Las Vegas and did the paperwork at the courthouse and arranged everything. The next week, I told her we were going to elope and wouldn’t have a lot of time, so she had to wear some type of wedding gown to her big district manager’s event. So she had picked out a real nice white dress.”
“It wasn’t one that would stand out,” says Traci. “I thought I was walking into a lunch with the owners and everybody, and I walked in, and it was a wedding! Our family and friends and everybody from work was there. It was amazing.”
“She thought she was having lunch on the third level at Rio, which is the chapel floor,” adds David. “So we covered up all the signs that said there was a chapel there.”
“It was awesome,” says Traci.
The Steys. "We eloped at a church a few blocks away, and the Catholic priest — Hank’s Catholic and I’m Protestant — performed the ceremony."
Hank and Dorothy Stey grew up in the Yorkville section of Manhattan and have known each other since they were kids. After working for 41 years as a crew chief for American Airlines and as a part-time police officer, Hank now enjoys retirement with Dorothy in San Carlos. Besides being a homemaker, Dorothy worked as a nurse’s aide in a hospital cancer ward and as a waitress. The parents of five kids, they have ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, some of whom visit nearly every day.
The Steys’ relationship was nurtured by World War II.
“He was in the Navy,” Dorothy says. “I was 15 and he was 17. He and his Navy buddies went around with my girlfriends, and I went with his friend. I didn’t really like his crowd. They were real salty and drank beer all the time. But one summer night, he was coming out of the ice cream parlor, and we took a walk. Then he went overseas for 11 months, and when he came back, we went on our first date, on September 21. We got engaged on Christmas Eve and married on March 4 — and my father almost killed him! We eloped at a church a few blocks away, and the Catholic priest — Hank’s Catholic and I’m Protestant — performed the ceremony. Hank was underage, and he forged his baptismal papers to say that he was 21. Boys had to be 21 and girls had to be 18 to get married then. Our kids always teased us, asking, ‘Mommy, are you sure you’re legally married?’ ”
“I was 17 in 1947,” says Hank, “and the war was over in 1945. But they didn’t actually sign the peace treaties until July of 1947. They saw me coming and they gave up!” He laughs.
After 52 years of marriage, Hank jokes that the success of their marriage is tied to two special words: “Yes, dear.”
“A woman once told me that whenever you want to really speak your mind, just remember to put your tongue in your cheek — and don’t!” says Dorothy.
“My wife goes by what this African princess once said to her,” says Hank. “Dorothy asked her who was the head of the family in Africa, and she said, ‘The man is the head of the family. But the woman is the neck that turns the head.’ And that’s our philosophy!”
Daniel and Rachel. "We started hiking up Cowles Mountain, and we were exercising and doing devotions up there and kind of fell for each other.”
Daniel Morris, 23, and Rachel Vehamen, 19, have been dating for eight months. Residents of Allied Gardens, Daniel works in construction, and Rachel is a nanny. They met at their church, First Assembly of God.
“We both work with the church youth group,” says Daniel, “and we kind of met doing that. We started hiking up Cowles Mountain, and we were exercising and doing devotions up there and kind of fell for each other.”
“I knew all his family, but not him,” says Rachel. “That’s how I knew I would like him, because he’s a Morris, and I knew all the others and liked them. Then we started walking. His relationship with the Lord made me fall in love with him.”
The Babcocks. "When I came home that night, I told my dad that she was the girl I was going to marry."
El Cajon residents Keith and Cecilia Babcock have been married for 53 years. Keith, 78, knew he wanted to marry Cecilia, 76, after their first date.
“We are actually distant cousins,” says Keith. “We first met at a relative’s house, and about a year went by and I needed a date for a dance. A friend of mine suggested that I call Cecilia. So I called her, and when I came home that night, I told my dad that she was the girl I was going to marry. We got married in June of 1949, after I graduated from Ohio State.”
“When he says we’re distant cousins, it goes way back — about three great-grandfathers,” explains Cecilia.
“Old Moses Hostetler lost his first wife, and he remarried and had more children,” adds Keith. “I’m from one side, and she’s from the other side.”
“He courted me for six months,” says Cecilia. “I had already graduated from college at University of Toledo. He would come home on weekends, or I would go down to Columbus — this was in the fall of ’48. My birthday is in December, and that’s when I got my engagement ring. I wasn’t quite as quick to decide as him!”
Fifty-three years and two daughters later, Keith is retired from pharmaceutical sales. Both look younger than their age, possibly a result of their stress-avoidance lifestyle.
“No arguments,” says Cecilia.
“She means we’ve never had a major argument,” says Keith. “When we’d have little arguments, either she’d leave the room or I’d leave the room to cool down.”
“It’s not worth it,” says Cecilia.
“It’s give and take,” Keith says. “I think that today when young people marry they think, ‘Well, if it doesn’t work out, we’ll get divorced.’ I never thought about that when I got married. My folks had been married for years, and her folks had been married for years, and that’s just the way it is as far as I was concerned.”
Leonardo and Josey. "I thought he was a lowlife, and I wanted more than that."
Leonardo Moya fell for Josey Hernandez after she dumped him. Leonardo, 18, studies administrative justice at Southwestern College. Josey, 19, is a student and waitress living in Clairemont. A Shelltown resident, Leonardo met Josey when they were students at Clairemont High School.
“Our friend introduced us,” Leonardo says. “We’ve been dating each other off and on for three years. I fell in love with her when she left me.”
“I guess you could say he proved himself to me,” Josey says. “He proved me wrong from what I thought he was. I thought he was a lowlife. I thought he didn’t want to succeed in life, and I wanted more than that. I’d had it with him.”
“She found another guy,” Leonardo says. “That was about nine months ago. It was hard to get her back.”
Jeff Walker and Stacy Moore met two years ago at a Subway sandwich shop. Jeff, 18, lives in Clairemont and attends Mesa College. Stacy, 17, lives in Del Cerro and attends Patrick Henry High School.
“It was my birthday,” says Stacy, “and all my friends kidnapped me and took me out for the whole day. We were in Clairemont at my friend’s uncle’s house, and they took me to Subway for dinner, and Jeff was working there. I was all, like, nervous, and I sent my friend back in when we left, and she got his number for me.”
“Yeah. That’s the story,” says Jeff. “And she’s very pretty! I really fell for her on my birthday — she was very special to me.”
“I took about six months before I was sure,” says Stacy. “I just got to know him better.”
The Jamiesons. "Brian drove up to see me in Atascadero on his way to visit his mom in San Francisco. We went to a party in Santa Cruz that night."
Brian and Anna Jamieson are both physicians. A native of Los Angeles, Brian, 26, and Anna, 29, attended Rice University in Houston as undergraduates. She later went to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, while he went to the University of Texas Southwestern, in Dallas, for his medical training. They met because of their Rice connection.
“She was dating a friend of mine at Baylor med school,” says Brian.
“The guy I was dating didn’t want to go to a party for Rice alums that night in Houston,” says Anna, “so he said, ‘My friend will be there. Why don’t you go keep him company?’ So I did. I really enjoyed Brian’s company, but he was engaged at the time.”
“My fiancée broke our engagement the same night,” says Brian.
“But that was completely random,” Anna says. “I liked Brian, and we got together when I was working in Atascadero. He came out on his vacation.”
“I had just taken my boards,” explains Brian, “and I was visiting relatives in L.A.”
“I had just broken up with my boyfriend,” Anna says, “and Brian drove up to see me in Atascadero on his way to visit his mom in San Francisco. We went to a party in Santa Cruz that night — it was a long drive. After that, we started talking on the phone between San Francisco and Atascadero, and we began to like each other more and more. We decided to caravan back to Texas together. We stayed up all night every night talking. We were together for a couple of months, and we knew we were getting married.”
“I fell in love with her when we were hanging out in California,” Brian says.
“I fell in love with him out here — or at least certainly by the time we got back to Texas,” Anna says.
They were engaged for one year before getting married in Maui.
“We had our honeymoon first, then our wedding and bachelor parties,” Anna says.
“She already had a residency out here,” says Brian. “She was an intern in psychiatry when we got married, and I had just gotten my residency in anaesthesiology here.”
Chris and Christi. “I was minding my own business at the gym, working on my triceps. He fed me some cheesy line: ‘So, you go to Chico State?’"
Chris Donovan’s romance with Christi Hill brought them to San Diego State University. Donovan, 21, met Hill, 20, in San Luis Obispo a year and a half ago.
“I was working out at the gym, walked around a corner, and saw her working out,” says Chris. “I was initially intrigued with her shapely figure. I thought she looked hot. I started talking to her, and later on we met in a club: the Graduate in San Luis Obispo. We fell in love from there.”
“I was minding my own business at the gym, working on my triceps,” says Christi. “He fed me some cheesy line: ‘So, you go to Chico State?’ because I was wearing Chico State shorts. I rolled my eyes and was, like, ‘Yeah.’ I didn’t think any more of it until I ran into him at the club.”
“I was attending Cal Poly,” says Chris, “and she was at Chico, so we decided to transfer together down here.”
Michael and Joyce Thielacker. "I don’t know when I fell in love with her.”
Michael and Joyce Thielacker, both 32, got married nine years ago after dating for three years. Michael works as a construction manager, and Joyce is an office manager. They live in Hillcrest, where their son attends a Catholic school.
“A girl I was dating introduced us,” says Michael, “and we were also working at the same mall and going to the same school. We went on a date and just kept going out and grew together. I don’t know when I fell in love with her.”
“It was almost two years after she introduced us that we really started dating,” says Joyce. “We just kept on dating and got married. It was pretty much the same for me, but he said he loved me probably six or eight months after we got married.”
Albert and Laura. "He asked me if I had the book. I was, like, ‘Of course I have the book! I’m in the class!’"
Laura Ramirez and Albert Koch met in a physics lab at San Diego State University in January 2002. Albert, 24, is in the Navy, while Laura, 21, is a student. He lives in Allied Gardens; she lives in the College Area.
“He was a physics major too,” says Laura. “We had the same physics class, and he asked me if I had the book. I was, like, ‘Of course I have the book! I’m in the class!’ He was just, like, ‘Oh, we should study together sometime,’ and I was, like, ‘Okay!’ There weren’t too many cute guys in physics, except for him. It was, like, ‘There’s a hot physics major! I gotta get to know him!’ After that, we studied, and…I don’t know. I don’t know exactly when, but I knew I was in love with him. He was perfect!”
“I saw her in the lab the semester before and noticed her every day when she came in,” says Albert. “When she was in my class, I was, like, ‘Okay. I’ve got to talk to her.’ So I had to work up the courage, and asking for the book was the easiest way. I don’t know when I knew I was in love with her. I think I knew way before I let myself believe it. I was kind of scared of it, I guess.”
Ryan and Boutsavath. "He walked right past me, but he came back and introduced himself and asked me for my number."
Ryan Eddington and Boutsavath Luangsida have been dating for a year and a half. Ryan, 21, works for United Parcel Service, and Boutsavath, 18, is a student at City College. They first met at Mission Valley Center, where she caught his attention after his double date failed.
“He was the third wheel,” says Boutsavath. “He was supposed to be on a double date, but his date didn’t show up. I was about to go watch a movie with my friends, and he walked right past me, but he came back and introduced himself and asked me for my number. After we had gone out for a couple of months, I knew I was in love with him. At first, I really liked him, but I guess my feelings got stronger and deeper as time progressed.”
“A month or two into it, I started feeling stuff I’d never felt before,” says Ryan.
Kenny and Angela. "I noticed that my sandwiches were getting fatter and fatter whenever I’d go to the deli."
Kenny Bonilla, 33, and Angela Bush, 23, are engaged after dating for seven years. Kenny, a bartender, and Angela, a waitress, work at the Crab Catcher Restaurant in La Jolla. They met in Ocean Beach, where they have lived together for the past year.
“I met him at the cliffs and saw him when I worked at the deli,” says Angela. “He used to come in and get coffee.”
“I’d see her down around Sunset Cliffs at sunset,” says Kenny. “I’d get out of the water, and most of the locals would hang out and watch the sun go down. I had a couple of dogs at the time. I’d keep them in the back of the truck. We never talked, really, but I noticed that my sandwiches were getting fatter and fatter whenever I’d go to the deli. Then she was at my truck, hanging out with my dogs. She’d say, ‘Oh, I love your dogs so much!’ and things like that. The dogs were a nice jig to throw out there for her.”
“I decided I was going to try to catch his eye and hang out with his dogs,” explains Angela. “And it worked! He took me on my first trip anywhere, to Mexico. I knew then that we’d be together forever.”
“We got engaged in Tahiti,” says Kenny. “What led to that was…there was no one particular time. It just kinda hit me all at once. I saw her one day, and it kind of hit me. The accumulation of all the things we’d experienced. I knew that she was the one that I wanted to marry.”
The Bazzos. "When he called me, it took a little while to remember who he was.”
David and Sabrina Bazzo sit close together in the living room of their Sorrento Mesa home. They’ve been married for ten years. David, 40, is a family-practice physician, and Sabrina, 36, is the new executive director of the San Diego Academy of Family Physicians.
“We met in September of 1986,” says David. “I had just started medical school in Chicago and was sort of getting the lay of the land there. One of my classmates, Valerie, had a birthday party for herself. Her parents lived at the southern border of Wisconsin and invited a bunch of us from the med school there. Val and Sabrina were in the same sorority at the University of Illinois, and we met at the party. We actually met at the party by fighting over the music! I’m from California, and I was into new wave and reggae and stuff like that, and she was into Top 40 and dance mix and stuff like that.”
“I was not!” says Sabrina.
“I had made a party tape for Val and had it playing,” says David. “When I was in another room, the tape stopped, and this other music came on, and I was, like, ‘What the heck?’ So I went over and changed the music back and went in the other room, and it changed again. Finally, we met up at the stereo. I asked her what she was doing, and she said, ‘Getting this music off of here!’ And I said, ‘That’s the best music! The stuff you’re putting on is terrible!’ We sort of struck up a conversation, and later we played a drinking game. It was a game where you had to trace finger marks on someone’s face, only Val’s sister, instead of using her finger was using lipstick and marking up my friend’s face, unbeknownst to him. And we were laughing about that. We later had a long conversation sitting on the stairs near my friend’s parents’ bedroom. Later they told us that they heard us talking that night and could tell that we were in love with each other already. A couple of weeks later, I asked Val if her friend Sabrina would go out with me, and she suggested that I call and ask her out. She told me we could get together the next time she was in Chicago — she was still attending school in Champaign — and not long after that we did. We had a date and went dancing. That was the night I fell in love with her. I still had a girlfriend out here in California that I was in the middle of breaking up with, but I hadn’t officially cut it with her. But Sabrina helped motivate me to do that.”
“After that party, when he called me, it took a little while to remember who he was,” says Sabrina. “I was 21, in my third year of college. On our first real date, I remember thinking, ‘I think I could marry him.’ That was the first time I’d ever thought that way.”
“I had a big midterm the weekend we went out,” says David, “and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll go out with her on Saturday night and spend all day Sunday studying.’ After I woke up the next day and started studying, she called me and invited me over to spend the day with her. I said, ‘Okay,’ and we went for a walk in the park. I think I did okay on my midterms!”
They still fight over music, but not as often.
“I’ve converted her,” says David. “She’s seen the light!”
“We have a few differences,” says Sabrina, “but it’s gotten better.”
The McCrells. "One day we went to a graduation party, and we kissed, and there was no turning back after that."
Josh and Davenport McCrell have been married for four months and live in Pacific Beach. Josh, 30, is a splicing technician for Pacific Bell, and Davenport, 29, is an event planner.
“We were neighbors in Pacific Beach,” says Josh. “We were friends for a long time first. We’ve known each other seven and a half years. I fell in love with her on day one! That’s it!”
“He’s very reticent,” says Davenport. “We were neighbors for about a year, and we started doing things together with no one else around. Then one day we went to a graduation party, and we kissed, and there was no turning back after that. We went as friends but came back as something different. We kind of questioned it, because when you get together with your best friend, you worry that you may have done the wrong thing. We overanalyzed the situation. We found that it was mutual, and we wanted to take it to something deeper.”
Dan and Uyen. “After the initial first date, I thought he was pretty…uh…” “But she didn’t show it!”
Dan Lancaster and Uyen Ogden have been dating for a little more than a year. Dan, 41, is a computer programmer living in Crown Point, and Uyen, 37, lives in Carmel Valley and has her own business as a smog technician.
“We met at a Halloween party in Del Mar a year ago,” Dan says. “She had a cute costume. We talked, and I just called her up afterwards, and we went from there. I think I knew I was in love with her about three months later, in January. She actually put me off for quite a while. Finally, we started dating in January, and it worked out pretty well.”
“Actually, I didn’t notice him at the party because I was with a group of friends,” says Uyen. “I had just broken up with someone three months before that, and I just wasn’t interested in getting into another relationship or dating. A couple of months after that — about the same time that he said — I knew I was in love with him.”
“It wasn’t love at first sight,” says Dan.
“It wasn’t,” agrees Uyen. “After the initial first date, I thought he was pretty…uh…”
“But she didn’t show it!” says Dan.
Cliff and Lori Lewis. "It was the most beautiful voice I had ever heard."
Cliff and Lori Lewis dated for two years before getting married seven years ago. Cliff, 40, is a scientist with Science Applications International, and Lori, 42, is a freelance artist. Now residents of University City, they originally met in New Mexico.
“We met in Albuquerque,” Lori says. “I saw him playing the piano onstage in a big church that we were going to. I just saw him smiling while he was playing, and I had to meet him and talk to him. We had both lived in L.A. and gone back and forth. We were both in the music business at the time. I never thought I would meet anyone in Albuquerque, but I did! I’m extremely outgoing, so I just went up and started talking to him. I invited him to join a group of us, and he started going with us to different things. Eventually, I stopped inviting the others along! I had the feeling right away about him, but I guess I knew for sure about six months later.”
“The first time we met, when I was playing the piano, she started singing,” says Cliff, “and it was the most beautiful voice I had ever heard, so I wanted to get to know her better. I spoke to her mom once, and her mom told me how when Lori was a little kid, the mother of the bully on her block called her and asked her to have her daughter stop picking on her son — and Lori was about half his size. The reason was, Lori was protecting the other kids that he was picking on. When I heard that, I said, ‘That’s the woman for me!’ ”
Lance and Carolyn Thayer. “We met on a blind date through the Reader personals."
Lance and Carolyn Thayer look and dress like models. Lance, 43, is a financial advisor, and Carolyn, 35, is a senior contract administrator. Residents of San Marcos, they married two years ago and dated for three years before that.
“We met on October 15, right?” asks Lance.
“We’ve been married a little over two years,” says Carolyn.
“We met on a blind date through the Reader personals. She answered my ad!” says Lance.
“I saw his ad, called him, and he called me back,” says Carolyn. “We spoke briefly and set a time to meet for our first blind date. We met at Seau’s restaurant in Mission Valley, and we’ve been together ever since. I realized he was the one after a couple of months.”
“That night, on our first date, we were trying on engagement rings at the Fashion Valley mall,” says Lance. “It was a joke on the guy in the store. I drug her in there and said, ‘Let’s try on some engagement rings.’ The guy kept telling us we were a lovely couple, and we laughed about it. I told him that maybe we would buy our ring on our second date. It turns out that when I bought her engagement ring, I didn’t even think about it and bought it right back at the same place. I bought it from the same guy. It was like one of those Twilight Zone episodes. I was ‘in lust’ instantly, but I didn’t tell her I loved her until New Year’s Eve 2000.”
“No, that’s when we got engaged,” Carolyn says.
“I think I knew after two or three months,” says Lance.
The Rubins. “I got an e-mail from a mutual friend who said that she had a friend that she wanted me to meet."
Steve and Charlotte Rubin are practically honeymooners. Married for seven months, Steve, 57, is an operations manager, and Charlotte, 43, is a speech pathologist. Residents of University City, they were together for two years before marrying. Their first date was arranged by a mutual friend.
“I got an e-mail from a mutual friend who said that she had a friend that she wanted me to meet,” says Steve. “She sent me a thumbnail bio about Charlotte and gave me her phone number. So I called.”
“I didn’t know about the e-mail until I called our mutual friend, Michelle,” explains Charlotte. “She was composing the e-mail to me, and she said, ‘Oh, let me read you the e-mail I’m sending you.’ It was just by accident that I called her while she was writing the e-mail, so I found out about it that way.”
“I made up my mind a few months into the relationship,” says Steve.
“It was pretty fast,” says Charlotte. “We met August 4, 2000.”
“We did the interview at Starbucks,” says Steve.
“That’s what we called it — ‘the interview,’ ” says Charlotte. “Probably by November, I knew. We were talking long-term plans. It was great.”
“By May, we bought a house together and moved in,” says Steve. “In November of 2001, I proposed, and we were married on July the 13th.”
The Garbers. “The first night we met, we went for a walk down Seal Beach pier, and when he held my hand, I felt the sparks then.”
Clint and Ronette Garber have been married for two years and knew each other for four years before they married. Ronette, 24, works as an aesthetician, and Clint, 29, is a nurse. They live with their young son in Point Loma.
“We met each other through her cousin, who was my best friend,” says Clint. “We met through church. I used to stay at her cousin’s house to go on snowboarding trips, and that’s how we met. I knew I was in love with her about two weeks after we started dating. We took her little brother to the batting cages before his baseball practice, and I just fell in love with her.”
“The first night we met, we went for a walk down Seal Beach pier,” says Ronette, “and when he held my hand, I felt the sparks then.”
Alex and Danielle. "It took a lot of work and stuttering to actually get to the point of asking her out."
Alex Goldstein and Danielle Levin have known each other since they were small children attending the San Diego Jewish Academy. Alex, 17, attends Francis Parker School and Danielle, 18, attends USC. They have dated each other for the past two and a half years.
“We were in the Ken Jewish community, and there were a lot of activities we were involved in,” says Alex. “I was interested in her about eight months before she got interested in me. It took a lot of work and stuttering to actually get to the point of asking her out. By the time I had asked her out, it had been developing, so I was already in love with her!”
“As a person, I always adored him,” says Danielle. “Ever since we were little. I guess I fell in love with him a couple of months after going out with him. It was just…everything!”
The Amadors. "We were supposed to go out as a big group, and everybody canceled out."
Barbara and Alex Amador of Cardiff knew each other for four years before they married last July. Alex, 35, is an accountant, while Barbara, 38, is a marketing coordinator.
“We met at work — we work for the same company in Del Mar,” says Barbara. “We started out just as friends and just got closer and closer. It’s really nothing too exciting. We wound up going out with a group of friends, and it kind of turned into a date. Probably after a month, I knew I was in love with him. It took him a while longer.”
“It was true, the first time we went out, it wasn’t planned or anything,” says Alex. “It was just kind of a last-minute thing. We were supposed to go out as a big group, and everybody canceled out. It wound up being just the two of us. At the time, I wasn’t really too interested or didn’t really think about it, but it turned into a date! We ended up making out that night, and it kind of went on from there.”
The Veras. “We were voted the cutest couple at Chula Vista High for the class of 2001."
Eduardo Bautista and Melissa Vera, both 19, began dating in junior high school. Eduardo lives in San Ysidro and studies criminal justice at San Diego State. Melissa studies fashion design at Cal State L.A. and lives in Fullerton while away at school.
“I grew up in Chula Vista,” Melissa says. “When I was eight years old, we met by an ice cream truck. My best friend lived across the street from him, and the ice cream guy used to come by when I was visiting her. That time, I came outside, and he bought me an ice cream. We became friends and started going out in junior high. It was hard, because we went to different schools. In ninth grade, we still liked each other a lot, and we got back together and have been together ever since — about four and a half years.”
“I went to Montgomery High for two years, then transferred to Chula Vista High, where she went to school,” says Eduardo. “I’ve known her since I was eight, and I thought she was a beautiful girl. I like having fun with her, and we just have a great time together. Through the years, our love has just built up.”
“We were voted the cutest couple at Chula Vista High for the class of 2001,” Melissa says.
The Gislers. "I was attracted to his shyness towards me in class."
Lynae Gisler met her husband, Reto, when she was teaching English at Language Studies International and he was a visiting student from Switzerland. Lynae, 35, still teaches language part-time, and Reto, 32, is an engineer. They have been married for five years and live in the College Area.
“I was his Cambridge [language certificate] teacher,” says Lynae, “and I was attracted to his shyness towards me in class. We knew each other about two months before we started dating. I visited Switzerland once or twice; then he came back here and lived with me for six months before we got married. After visiting him in Switzerland for the first time, I knew I was in love with him.”
“I was attracted to her, but I think she was attracted to me first,” says Reto. “We went on a weekend trip to San Francisco with a group of students. I think it was my roommate who invited her to have a drink in our room — that was the first time, really. I fell in love with her a few weeks before I had to go back home. We dated for three and a half years.”
Patty and Jomar. “She gave me a going-away party, and I realized that I was leaving a very special person behind."
Patty and Jomar Cruz knew each other for seven years before things got romantic. Jomar, 37, is a storekeeper chief in the Navy, and Patty, 38, is a stay-at-home mom. Married for two and a half years, they live with their daughter in Del Cerro. They met when they were members of a Catholic young adult group at the Old Mission.
“It started when I was stationed to Hawaii,” Jomar says. “She gave me a going-away party, and I realized that I was leaving a very special person behind. So when I came back a couple of months later to take care of some business with my condo, I saw her for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seemed like I was always here after I got transferred.”
“It was when he was home in August that he suggested we start dating,” says Patty, “which is why he was home at Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
“For our first date, when I came home at Thanksgiving, we started by going to Mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral,” says Jomar, “and when we got there, there was this couple that the priest called up to the front who were celebrating their 50th anniversary. A little after that, I said, ‘Hey, if it works out, we can come here on our 50th wedding anniversary!’ I don’t know when I realized that I loved her. It just progressed. Sometime between ’98 and ’99.”
“When a group of us went to World Youth Day in Paris, we spent two weeks together,” says Patty, “and at the end of those two weeks, I still liked him and couldn’t stand the other two guys we were with at that point! People actually thought we were dating in Paris. We laughed at that! I guess when he was gone in Hawaii, I realized that I could stand to be around him. With any other guys that I dated, it always got to the point where ‘You could be gone and I wouldn’t miss you very much.’ But I missed him. When he came home and suggested that we start dating, it completely freaked me out because we had a fabulous friendship, and I didn’t want to ruin that. But talking and time helped. We dated from August ’98 to April ’99, and he proposed to me in April. I think I realized I was in love with him that Christmas of ’99. He asked me to marry him in front of the Blessed Sacrament in a Carmelite Chapel on the island of Oahu.”
Dario and Syria. “He actually invited me to go out on his boat, and he never came."
Dario Preciado and Syria Almada have been carrying on a long-distance romance for six months. Dario, 25, lives in Ensenada, where he works at his family’s grocery business. Syria, 21, left Ensenada last fall for Chula Vista so she could attend Southwestern College. They are engaged to be married when she finishes school.
“I met her on a popular street in Ensenada,” says Dario. “I saw her and walked up and started talking to her. I invited her to have a beer with me. In two days, I knew I loved her.”
“He actually invited me to go out on his boat,” says Syria, “and he never came. That evening, he came and told me that he was sorry and wanted to see me. So a week later, we started going out. I knew I was in love when I met him!”
The Liebermenschs. "Once we got back to school — about five or six months later — I knew that he was stuck with me."
Steve Liebermensch, a 30-year-old computer consultant, grew up in Del Cerro but now lives in Wakefield, Rhode Island. He and his wife Dara, a 29-year-old accountant, dated for seven years before getting married 18 months ago. They met at an accounting banquet at the University of Rhode Island. The next day, they met again.
“She was interviewing at a company that I was interning at already, so I met her the following day at the company to bring her into the place for the interview,” says Steve. “I knew I was in love with her about seven or eight months later, over the summer that we were working together.”
“One of my girlfriends introduced us at the banquet,” says Dara, “and Steve helped me out the next day — to find the floor I needed to be on and to meet everybody. Probably once we got back to school — about five or six months later — I knew that he was stuck with me. We just hit it off really well.”
The Gibsons. "I knew when he came for the second date and brought me a rose that he was the one."
Jim and Sandra Gibson met ten years ago because of an online role-playing game. Jim, 34, is now a computer support manager at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, and Sandra, 44, is a self-employed writer who hopes to publish a novel soon. Married for two years, they live in La Costa.
“We were both living in Flagstaff,” says Jim. “I owned a hobby store, and Sandra was working at Northern Arizona University. I had a longtime friend at the university that I had gone to school with who was doing an online chat system on the campus computer. I had been involved with that — I had a character in a sort of role-playing thing. Sandra had a character on there too and got to know the same guy separately. He threw a birthday party, and I met Sandra there. I got to know her socially in a group situation, but we were chatting one night and got to know each other more in depth and found we had a lot of similar interests. It just took off from there. We started going out to movies as a group, and after a while, I asked her out to a movie singly. Then we started spending several hours on the phone at night. I probably knew I was in love with her the second week we were dating. We’d go for drives around the San Francisco peaks area and talk a lot about our future.”
“The woman who worked across the hall from me at NAU was talking about this online computer game,” explains Sandra, “and I created a character for it. I met him online about a week later. After playing the game, I was invited out by another character in the game for a birthday party, and I met Jim at the party. That was in June. I remember him giving me his business card. For about a year, we did all these group things, and I thought he was a really nice guy, but I remember him saying that his business was like a girlfriend, because it took all of his free time, money, and energy, so I figured he wasn’t interested in dating anybody. So the following April, my parents were visiting, and I tried to show them the online game, and while chatting with Jim, he told me that he would go to a movie that didn’t have blood or violence or gratuitous sex in it — the only movies the group had been going to were guy movies. That was it. We somehow switched from always doing things in a group to just the two of us going on a date. The following week, he asked me out again, and I knew when he came for the second date and brought me a rose that he was the one. I had this flash of us much older and him wearing a cardigan sweater and all that kind of thing. We got married a year later in May.”
The Mayfields. "She was the perfect match. We have so much in common.”
Chris and Kira Mayfield first noticed each other at a party. Chris, 26, is an electronics technician in the Navy, and Kira, 25, is a housewife. After dating for four years, they married five years ago and live in Point Loma.
“I met her April 23, 1994, at a party, after a 12-pack of Keystone Light,” says Chris. “I said, ‘Wow! Who’s that?’ I went up to her and asked her name — I was pretty inebriated. I knew I was in love with her about two months later. She was the perfect match. We have so much in common.”
“We did meet at the party,” says Kira, “and I asked my friend, ‘Who’s that guy?’ She said, ‘Oh, that’s Chris. He’s Paul’s friend.’ So he then came up to me, and we talked. I think I knew I was in love with him about a month and a half after that, but I didn’t say nothin’. Then, after a date, when he told me that he loved me, I told him that I loved him too, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Dick and Emerald. "He rode all the way to Escondido to bring me flowers."
Dick Doyenard and Emerald Green live together in Mira Mesa. Dick, 23, is a painter, and Emerald, 21, works as a receptionist.
“He used to work with a friend of mine,” says Emerald. “We all went to Disneyland, and that’s where I met him. We started dating for about a year, and that’s when I fell in love with him. He did something for me, and I never expected a guy to do something like that. I’d never had a really nice Valentine’s Day, and he brought me flowers before Valentine’s Day. It was kind of corny, and it showed me that he cared and loved me. He rode all the way to Escondido to bring me flowers, and he has a little bike, so the idea that he made it all the way up there with flowers was really nice. Actually, I knew I loved him at Disneyland. He was talking about his life and his ex-girlfriends, and I realized that he was a sweet, caring individual.”
“I was just walking around at Disneyland with her,” says Dick. “I was curious about who she was and where she’d been. I knew I loved her a couple of months into it. I realized that she had the fabulous ability to piss me off and have me be unwavered and go back for more every time.”
Parnell and Bunny. "I put my arm on the back of his chair so that he couldn’t get up and talk to anybody else!”
Parnell Johnstone and his wife Bunny met at a party in 1977. Parnell, 80, is a retired financial officer, and Bunny, 64, worked as a schoolteacher and real estate agent before retiring. They have been married for 23 years and live in Rancho Bernardo.
“A mutual friend of ours had a Christmas party,” says Bunny, “and my girlfriend told me in advance, ‘I’ve met the perfect man for you.’ I’d never seen him. I got to the party early, and all these guys came, but when Parnell walked up the stairs, I looked at him and said, ‘That’s the one for me!’ I just kind of loved him from the very beginning. She introduced us, and when we sat down, I put my arm on the back of his chair so that he couldn’t get up and talk to anybody else!”
“I never liked Valentine’s Day very much,” says Parnell. “My previous girlfriend got real upset with me on Valentine’s Day because I didn’t bring her anything, so I said, ‘That’s it. Who can live with this?’ ”
“Then he remembered meeting me,” says Bunny, “so that’s when he called me up. We didn’t start dating after that first encounter, because he never called. Then, after he broke up with that girlfriend, he called me. In the meantime, three guys, including one from that party, had given me flowers for Valentine’s Day. They were all over the house. I almost had to step over them to get around. So Valentine’s Day is a big day in our lives.”
“I felt the reaction of the previous lady was kind of overdone,” says Parnell. “I didn’t realize that all women feel that way about Valentine’s Day. But I’m a fast learner! The next Valentine’s Day, we went to San Francisco.”
“He bought me jewelry from Tiffany’s,” says Bunny, “and took me out to one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco. So every Valentine’s Day, I always drink a toast to Mary, his old girlfriend. Because of her, I got him!”
Oscar and Angie Diaz. "I pretty much knew by 11th grade that I loved her.”
Oscar and Angie Diaz have been married for 16 months after dating for six years. Oscar, 21, is a nuclear machinist’s mate in the Navy, and Angie, 20, is a housewife. They live in Tierrasanta and are expecting their first child soon.
“We met at junior high school,” says Angie. “I was sitting on the steps, and he came out of class, and I saw him and thought he was really cute. We couldn’t really go out because his parents wouldn’t let him have a girlfriend, and my parents wouldn’t let me have a boyfriend. We were mostly, like, best friends. We finally got together my 9th-grade year. I think I fell in love with him more my 11th-grade year. It was his smile.”
“I was in high school, and she was in junior high,” says Oscar. “We went out that summer and got together. I pretty much knew by 11th grade that I loved her.”
The Kennedys. “We met in the electrical department at Sears — the one that was torn down, over off Washington Street,”
Steve and Jill Kennedy have been married since 1978, after dating for four years. Steve, 51, is a retired truck driver, and Jill, 47, is a homemaker. They live in Jamul.
“We met in the electrical department at Sears — the one that was torn down, over in Hillcrest off Washington Street,” says Jill. “I was working there, and he came in to visit with a friend who had been working with me. He asked for my phone number, and we went out. It took a while. It was a couple of months before I felt like I was in love with him.”
“I got a big surprise when I went in to visit a friend of mine who had been working at Sears,” says Steve. “I found a lady that I fell in love with. It took a while — a couple of months — but we’ve been hitting it off ever since.”
“We were more friends from the beginning,” says Jill. “We just enjoyed being around each other.”
The Dunwoodys. "He asked me to marry him — after one date."
Forty-six years ago, Suzanne agreed to marry Jim Dunwoody on their first date. Now Jim, 77, is a retired schoolteacher, while Suzanne, 67, is a self-employed artist. They live in Mission Village.
“We were going to college at L.A. State,” says Jim, “and I remember seeing her at Ralphs market. There was something about her. She was the kind of woman that I always wanted. She looked the part, so it didn’t take me long to ask her out.”
“I was living in college housing,” says Suzanne. “He had his own apartment and was near the college. I never paid any attention to him. He noticed me.”
“I was working at Technicolor studios,” says Jim, “and I had a little apartment of my own, so she was impressed.”
“I was not impressed!” says Suzanne. “It was a horrible place! But for some reason, we found out that we were going to the same school, so then we met for coffee in the cafeteria at school. Then we had a date, and he asked me to marry him — after one date. I thought he was a little crazy, but I was attracted. For some reason, I said yes. It was the craziest thing I had ever done, and I thought it was completely stupid, but I did it!”
“For me, it was love at first sight,” says Jim.
“I was attracted,” says Suzanne, “but it took me longer to let myself feel it was love, because the whole thing was so stupid! All I could think was, ‘How in the world could I have done anything this stupid?’ But after I got beyond that, I realized that I loved him.”
Erol and Kathy. "I didn’t even realize how long we had been on the phone."
When Kathy Starbucks called Erol Delman to get her air ducts cleaned, the conversation lasted hours. Three years later, Erol, 39, and Kathy, 42, own a swimwear design company that they started together. They both live in Sabre Springs.
“He was working with an air-duct cleaning company that my ex-husband and I were using,” says Kathy, “and I had already kicked my ex-husband out when this phone call came in with no number on the caller ID and all this other weird stuff. So using *69, I called back, and they said, ‘Oh, that was Erol!’ He got on the phone, and four hours later, we had failed to schedule the appointment that I was calling for and had plans for a date that Saturday night. The next day, I called to schedule the appointment that I forgot to schedule the day before, and after half a day on the phone, he said, ‘That’s it! I’m coming over!’ And we’ve been together since. The date was Saturday, and he came over on Friday! That’s when I knew I was in love with him.”
“Same for me,” says Erol. “We are both very aware of when it was. When we met on the phone, I just could not put the phone down. Hours were just clicking by, and I didn’t even realize how long we had been on the phone. I couldn’t even wait for the two or three days later for our date. We had to get together a day early. Once we spent some time together, we just connected, and we’ve been together ever since.”
Charlie and Laura. “We just — I knew I loved him the first day."
Charlie Ramirez and Laura Silva both live in Ocean Beach, but not together. Charlie, 29, is a chef, and Laura, 24, is a baby-sitter. They have been dating for three years.
“We met at the Old Town Trolley Station,” says Charlie. “It was love at first sight. I asked her for the time and what her name was. Then I asked her if I could ride with her to her destination. She said, ‘No, but we can ride to your place!’ It went gradually after that. Actually, I knew I loved her after probably six months.”
“It’s the same thing,” says Laura. “We just — I knew I loved him the first day. When I saw him, I wanted to meet him.”
David and Lacey. "I saw her again, two years later, in Hawaii — I recognized her on the beach."
David Morgan and Lacey Turlo have known each other for six years. Students at USD, David, 22, is a senior majoring in business, and Lacey is a junior majoring in business and communications. Lacey, 21, a San Diego native, lives in the student dorms, while David, an Orange County transplant, lives in Pacific Beach.
“We met at Forest Home church camp my sophomore year of high school,” says David. “Then I saw her again, two years later, in Hawaii — I recognized her on the beach. We rode together on the airplane coming home. We started going to the same school, and we started dating about five months ago. It just kind of worked out in September. I’ve always kind of been seriously interested in her — especially the last couple of years.”
“There’s always been something there,” says Lacey, “but we haven’t been officially dating until the end of last summer. I guess there was an initial attraction when I first met him, but nothing really happened for a long time. Ever since we’ve gone to school together, there’s been something there. He’s just lucky that I stuck around!”
Brett and Julia. "We weren’t even dating yet, and there I am, crying like a moron!”
Brett Tomko, 29, and Julia Schultz, 23, live together in Mission Valley. Brett pitches for the San Diego Padres; Julia is an actress.
“We met through her best friend about five years ago after a game, when I played for Cincinnati,” says Brett. “We all went out, and that’s the first time we met. We didn’t actually start dating until nine and a half months ago. We’d been pretty good friends for about two years. We’d been talking all the time, and finally we were able to both be single at the same time and started dating. I was on a road trip in Atlanta, and it was the first real extended road trip I had been on, and I couldn’t wait to get back home. That’s when I knew I was in love with her.”
“I knew that I loved him before we were dating,” says Julia. “One night he was out in one of the cities with a friend’s sister and some of her friends. He called me and jokingly said, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna go out with ten girls!’ and this and that. He said he would call me, and he never called back that night. I cried. That’s when I knew. We weren’t even dating yet, and there I am, crying like a moron!”
(On December 15, 2002, Brett was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals.)
Schuyler Hoffman and Lauren Gans. They originally met in the seventh grade at Francis Parker School.
Schuyler Hoffman and Lauren Gans have been dating for two and a half years. Schuyler, 22, is a law student at USD, and Lauren, 23, attends the University of Arizona in Tucson but plans to return to San Diego after graduating in June. Schuyler lives in Point Loma. They originally met in the seventh grade at Francis Parker School.
“We were really good friends through high school,” says Schuyler, “and we’d go out a lot together, but we never really thought of each other in the romantic sense. There was an attraction there. After college, we’d come back and see each other for breaks and whatnot. Two summers ago — it happened one night — Lauren told me that she’d always wanted to kiss me. We dated for a little while, and it slowly grew from there. It was always built on friendship.”
“I was abroad, in Spain for six months,” says Lauren. “I came back and saw him the night I returned. I just saw something different in him then. We had exchanged e-mails a lot while I was gone, and through the e-mails, I began to look at him differently.”
The Manns. "She came out and asked if we needed anything at the store."
Chris and Lisa Mann got married three months ago, but they’ve known each other just over two years. Chris, 28, is a reactor mechanic in the Navy, and Lisa, 23, is working toward her teaching credential at National University. They live in La Mesa.
“We lived in the same apartment complex,” says Chris, “and some buddies and I were having a barbecue, and she came out and asked if we needed anything at the store. We didn’t know her, but we said, ‘Sure! Get us some beer!’ So she came back with some beer, and I knew I had to meet her. We went on a few dates and started hanging out a lot. That was in the summer. Around Christmastime, we started getting serious and knew that we loved each other. At least I loved her — I don’t know about her! We got engaged in May of 2002.”
“We first said ‘I love you’ around April, then got engaged and got married in October,” says Lisa. “I think I knew that I loved him about January-ish.”
Aaron and Jocelyn. "I just wanted to spend all my time with her."
Aaron Miller and Jocelyn Timko have known each other for two years and have dated for most of that time. Aaron, 27, is a trainer with the San Diego Chargers, and Jocelyn, 25, is a nonprofit executive for the Donnie Edwards Best Defense Foundation and the Deuce McAllister Catch 22 Foundation. Aaron lives in Mission Valley; Jocelyn lives in New Orleans but visits San Diego at least once a month to meet with Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards on foundation business.
“We met in New Orleans when we were both working for the Saints,” says Jocelyn. “We don’t remember quite how we met, but we just remember becoming friends. I knew I was in love with him on Thanksgiving two years ago. That’s when my grandmother died, and I knew I wanted to be with him.”
“We honestly can’t remember how we met,” says Aaron, “but we did meet at work and became really good friends. I probably realized that I was in love with Jocelyn when…I just wanted to spend all my time with her. She’s my best friend, and she’s the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.”
The DesNoyers. "She gave me her phone number on a piece of paper, and I still carry that piece of paper with me today in my work bag.”
Tom and Tracy DesNoyers are registered nurses who met while working at the same hospital. Tom, 31, and Tracy, 27, live in a condominium near Horton Plaza.
“We met on a blind date when we were at the same facility in Chula Vista,” says Tom. “Tracy was working on the med-surg floor, and I was working one of the intensive care units. We got set up on a blind date, and she gave me her phone number on a piece of paper, and I still carry that piece of paper with me today in my work bag.”
“We were working at the same hospital,” says Tracy, “and this respiratory therapist who was talking to me said, ‘Tracy, I can’t believe you’re not dating anybody. I know a guy working in the ICU, and all the girls really think he’s cute. Let me set you up on a blind date.’ I didn’t want to be set up — it seemed kind of cheesy. But when he said the guy lived in Pacific Beach, I was living in Pacific Beach too, so I told him to go ahead and give him my number.”
“We went out on our first date,” Tom says. “At the time, she wasn’t really talkative. She was real shy, and she seemed excited that we were going to watch a movie because that didn’t require a whole lot of talking and interaction. Then she came over, and we talked for about eight hours before she went home. We never even watched the movie. It was a nice date. It was like an old-fashioned date, where we got to know each other and had a good time.”
“It was like we had known each other forever,” says Tracy. “It was real easy to talk to him.”
“We started going out, and I think I knew I was in love with her by the third date,” Tom says. “I knew I was going to marry her by the fourth. By the fifth, I brought it up. She told me that because of her father and her Christian background, I would have to wait at least one year and at least meet her parents before I could ever begin to think about it. We waited nine months and took a relocation assignment to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where Tracy’s from. We worked at a hospital around there so I could get to know her parents a little better. At the end of the assignment, I asked her dad for permission to marry her, and he said yes. So we went up to Chicago, and at the top of the Hancock Building during dinner, I proposed. We decided to get married in San Diego, since we met here. We got married on July 20 at the Hotel Del in the Crown Room.”
“He proposed a year later to the hour of our first date,” says Tracy.
“Our first date was on July 10,” says Tom, “and I waited exactly a year, within the hour, even with the time-zone change, to propose.”
Will and Enjoli. "We were going to get tattoos together, but we both chickened out."
Will Veit and Enjoli Pyrtle met eight months ago at sea. Will, 21, and Enjoli, 19, are in the Navy. They live together in Otay Mesa.
“He was on watch,” says Enjoli, “and I was coming back from a port visit, and I was talking to him because he was falling asleep. We just, like, talked all night, and we decided to meet up the day after next. We went out that day and ended up talking. I think that I knew I was in love with him about last September. He’s perfect for me. Everything I want in a man.”
“We were on a ship in Australia at the time,” says Will, “and she came up to me, and we started talking about everything. We were going to get tattoos together, but we both chickened out. We had a lot of experiences together when we were out to sea. We became friends and hung out a lot. I think I was in love with her — probably all along. I just wasn’t sure what it was.”
Parker and Margie. "I thought, ‘What am I doing here? I’m in love with Parker.’"
After marrying Parker Mahnke 17 years ago, Margie Beebe decided not to change her last name. Parker, 54, and Margie, 56, are both retired and live in Fallbrook. They were together for 10 years before marrying.
“We met at a dinner party of a mutual friend’s, 27 years ago,” says Parker. “I was with another lady, and Margie was by herself. We were friends for six months before we went out. She invited me to her New Year’s Eve party, and I said I had a date. She replied, ‘Well, I should think you would have a date!’ She wasn’t calling to invite me!”
“Yes I was,” says Margie.
“We got together a few days before the party,” says Parker, “and went out for the first time — an official date. We then fell in love, I don’t know…I can’t remember the moment. She just grew on me.”
“I used to be a flight attendant,” says Margie. “I was in Europe traveling with a friend on business, and when I got to Rome, I thought, ‘What am I doing here? I’m in love with Parker.’ So I gave my friend David the keys to the car and told him I was going home. He said, ‘But our ticket’s out of Zurich.’ I told him, ‘Planes fly from Rome to Zurich.’ So I left Europe and flew home to him! It was a year after we knew each other. I came home, and we’ve been together from then on.”
Trever and Karina. "She hit her hand against the wall and it started bleeding. I kissed her hand to make it better."
Trever Love and Karina Ortiz, both 20, have been dating again for five months after breaking up a couple of years ago. Trever lives in Linda Vista and manages a kiosk at the Fashion Valley mall. Karina lives in Linda Vista and is a substitute clerk for the San Diego Unified School District.
“We met during my senior year at Mission Bay High,” says Trever. “We dated eight months and broke up for a couple of years.”
“I was a junior at cheer practice,” says Karina, “and I was wearing a white T-shirt with little bears on it. He was hiding from me, and was on a walkie-talkie with his friend. His friend was next to me, and I heard Trever say, ‘That girl in the white T-shirt with bears on it is cute.’ We just started dating from there. We broke up five months after that. Three years passed by, and we didn’t talk to each other. We just recently met at my best friend’s house for a little get-together, and from then on we started dating. I knew I loved him one day when he made a huge sacrifice for me — it’s too personal to talk about. He was very sweet to me.”
“After the walkie-talkie incident,” says Trever, “we had summer school together. We sat together in summer school, and a couple of months into the school year in October, she invited me to go to a haunted house downtown with her, her cousin, and her cousin’s boyfriend. We had a lot of fun at the haunted hotel, and she hit her hand against the wall and it started bleeding. I kissed her hand to make it better, and that’s when we first got together. I knew I was in love with her after I broke up with her. I knew I had made a big mistake, but the damage was already done so I never went back. I had three years to think about it, and I love her.”
The Raijens. "We looked at each other, and we both realized that we knew each other."
Dean Raijen, 42, and Cheryl Raijen, 41, are Carmel Valley residents who own a catering business together. Married for 11 years, they met 13 years ago in New York City.
“I met Cheryl for the first time at work and met her again at a party a couple of weeks later,” says Dean. “We started going out, and within a year, we decided to get married. After getting married, we decided to move to San Diego and start our own business. I knew I loved her after dating a few months. We moved in together six or seven months after we met.”
“We met on a Thursday evening at his place of business — he was in sales,” says Cheryl. “I left the store, and we met a few days later — the following Tuesday — at a bar. It was the party of a mutual friend. We looked at each other, and we both realized that we knew each other. We figured out where it was that we had met a few days earlier, and we decided to go out to dinner a few days later, and we started dating. I thought he was pretty cute right off the bat. It was pretty exciting to go out with him. I think I just kind of eased into loving him within two or three months. We both weren’t young kids or anything.”