THE MODERN FAIRYTALE
David H., 34, Brooklyn
David and Sally were both studying abroad in London when he spotted her sitting on the grass smoking a cigarette and reading a giant version of The Riverside Shakespeare — the same as his. She disappeared before he could talk to her, but later glimpsed her at the Tate Modern. Again, she vanished, but a third chance in a university computer lab was a charm. Their conversation led to drinks, dancing, and stumbling home together. The rest is history.
“Pretty instantly, I just knew,” David says. “We didn’t intend it, didn’t know if we really wanted it, but I had that feeling, and she had that feeling too.”
They discussed their future, and what it would mean to commit so young, with so many paths and individual opportunities still ahead. It was worth it, they decided.
Their choice meant a long-distance relationship after returning to the States to finish college: Sally to New York City, and David to Iowa. After graduation and marriage, it’s required supporting each other through priorities that sometimes differ, and challenging phases.
“We have different approaches that complement each other and also put us odds, and we’ve had to learn to hold back, listen to each other, and negotiate,” David says. “Adventuring was actually in her wedding vows, and she’s one to say things like, ‘I need to move to Honduras for two years.’ I’m more cautious.”
Fourteen years after their meet-cute — a period that’s included grad school in New York; David’s recovery from a robbery and assault that left him with a broken jaw; two years in Honduras; and also the culture shock of returning to the States and figuring out next steps — they’ve earned the position of elder statesmen. Friends often request relationship advice and perspective.
“We have a strange mix in our culture,” David says. “The fairy tale lives on — but we also have the expectation that you need what’s right for you, to get what you want. If you’re looking for both, you won’t find either. The fairy tale thing, it doesn’t really exist. When you’re in a long-term relationship, you can’t just have a desire, and have it fulfilled instantly. You give a part of yourself to get it.”