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There are as many “how we met” stories as there are couples. Some aren’t so surprising: You find each other at a party, through an online dating site or thanks to a mutual friend. But many great love stories begin when people least expect it — while stuck in a traffic jam, surrounded by caskets at a funeral home, or returning a silly movie at a video store, for instance.
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The stories of those fateful encounters are among those we gathered from our AARP.org readers and Facebook followers, all of whom seemed to feel that however their paths crossed, their love was meant to be. In their own words, here are a few of our favorite tales.
Stuck in Traffic
Almost 19 years ago, when I was in my early 30s, I was stuck in rush-hour traffic on Interstate 5 in Seattle. Anthony was a passenger in a car next to mine, carpooling to work with a friend of his. He’d look over at me and smile and I’d smile, and he’d wave, then I’d wave. This went on for about 10 minutes. Then he finally wrote his telephone number and his name, “Tony,” on a piece of paper, and held it to the window (at his friend’s prodding, I found out later). I dug around in my purse and found an envelope and an eyeliner, and wrote his number down before we separated. I called him that night, and said, “This is your I-5 friend,” and we talked for three hours. He told me he was divorced and had a 2-year-old daughter and was literally starting his life all over again. We set a coffee date for two days later, and hit it off. We married four years later, the day before Valentine’s Day. I just think: If I were 30 seconds earlier or later getting on the road, it may have kept me from this amazing man. I was so lucky to be driving by.
— Elizabeth Harper Servedio, 51, Seattle
All in the Family
My son Tom and Bill’s daughter, Ashley, were engaged to be married in Florida. When I met Ashley before the wedding, she joked with me and said, “You know, my dad’s single and I think he’s good looking.” Bill had been divorced for some years, living in West Virginia, and I’d been a widow for seven years, living in St. Louis. We met for the first time the night before our kids’ wedding, and I thought, “Well, he’s not bad.” He started calling and texting me after that, and finagled an invitation to St. Louis, staying with me and my roommate for a few days. I was always hesitant because of the situation — if the relationship went sour, we had kids involved in this — but it was pretty much love at first sight. After two years of a long-distance romance we were married in 2010, and moved to Florida — the same area where it all started. You never know where you will meet the love of your life.
— Debbey Pittinger, 71, Tampa, Florida
They'll Always Have Paris
It was the fall of 1967 and I was a newly graduated nurse in New York. I purchased a three-month train pass and Europe on $5 a Day and departed on a student ship for Europe with three friends from nursing school. We ended our trip in Paris, arriving at the Arc de Triomphe at noon on a Saturday, where one friend and I had agreed to meet our two travel buddies arriving from a different direction. What better place to meet than a really obvious landmark in that beautiful city? I soon noticed two young men seated nearby, also apparently waiting for someone. One had long, dark, curly hair, while I had recently had my long hair cut very short in Italy. He thought I was Parisian, and approached me hoping to score a date with a “local.” David was American, studying in London and in Paris for a weekend. A long conversation ensued, since both sets of our friends arrived late. Plans were made for that evening, leading to a glass of wine at Cafe Les Deux Magots. Later we wandered the gorgeous streets of Paris, ending up at the Napoleonic Fountains, with the lighted Eiffel Tower just across the Seine. As fountains cascaded around us, we embraced for our first kiss and our lives were changed forever. David and I still visit Paris and often recall with love that Parisian moment we met.