An unexpected bonus to creating a website specifically for our wedding was that it gave me a chance to write about how Katrina and I met, which is a story I've told dozens of times but have never committed it to anything more permanent. It's a good story. Well, not the actual meeting part. That's pretty boring for anyone but her and me. And short. We met on OK Cupid, a dating website for folks who don't feel like paying for dating websites. But the story that led up to us meeting is a much longer, more interesting one, which I'm going to share with all of you right now.
It began in November 1979, when Katrina was born at Josephine Memorial Hospital in Grants Pass, Oregon, just before the first of many crazy coincidences that would come to define the years prior to their meeting. Charley was born at the exact same hospital in January 1980, seven weeks later. Seven weeks. It isn't much on paper, but it was the furthest apart that seven weeks can feel, bridging three different months, two seasons, two decades, and two generations. So close, yet so far.
Katrina and Charley both spent their formative years in Southern Oregon, learning to walk, talk, read, and write at the finest elementary institutions that Medford and Grants Pass have to offer. This time was fraught with ups and downs for both, from finishing second place out of the whole district for accurately drawing the Statue of Liberty, to receiving poor marks on a kindergarten report card for not being able to skip. Which of those things happened to which person has been lost to time, but surely such details don't matter today.
What did matter was Katrina's next move. At age 6, she and her family headed to California, hundreds of miles from where Charley was busy becoming a man. Their first stop took them to little Oakdale, the self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World, or as Wikipedia poetically describes it: "part of the Modesto Metropolitan Statistical Area." Oakdale proved to be a pivotal environment for Katrina, who spent her days there making her Barbie dolls kiss each other, creating personas for several important stuffed animals, and reading every "Babysitters Club" she could get her hands on. She and her family (including her amorous Barbies) soon found themselves in Aptos, near Santa Cruz, where they'd stay for several more years.
At age 10, Katrina came back to Medford, a mere twentysomething miles from where Charley was living in Grants Pass. Despite their proximity, the two would spend the next eight years never crossing paths. There's no way to be sure how close they came to meeting, or whether they were ever in the same place at the same time. Chances are they had several near misses at the Rogue Valley Mall in Medford, although Katrina's love of junior-clothing retailer Deb and Charley's continued quest for the perfect Mervyn's sweater likely kept them to distinct corners of the mall. Their best opportunity for a Rogue Valley Mall meet-cute was likely the Magic Man, a store that catered to both of their interests with a large selection of adult-themed novelty items and ninja weaponry. But alas, in a store like that, who could focus on such things as potential romance?
At age 18, the minute high school was over, Charley moved to Portland to pursue further education in college, as well as street smarts at the school of hard knocks. His departure from Grants Pass was, unknown to him at the time, also a departure from the proximity of his future wife. In fact, if you'd told him at the time that he was someday going to marry a Medford girl, he probably would have stopped being your friend, even though friends were few and far between for him. Likewise, to Katrina, Medford was a bustling metropolis compared to the relative ruralness of Grants Pass, so her idea of a G.P. guy was someone who knows less about, say, how to sharpen a "safety" ninja throwing star, and more about things like how to milk a sheep. Some sort of rube, in other words.
Katrina was such a Medford girl that she spent another few years there until the siren song of Portland drew her away at age 21. She began attending classes at Portland State University, finding her niche in the PSU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' renowned Applied Linguistics program, whose alumni would soon include such notable and relevant people as Charley. Yes, that Charley. Katrina entered the exact program he was just completing, in what anthropologists will no doubt someday call "another humdinger of a coincidence."
Now you're thinking: "Surely this is the point at which our protagonists finally meet." But alas, the timing was still not right, and though they had many of the same professors, knew many of the same people, and had several close calls, Charley's graduation from the program and subsequent move to Los Angeles would preclude their meeting in Oregon. So close, yet so far.
Katrina graduated from PSU in 2006, right around Charley's second-year anniversary in L.A. And then, with the two still separated by more than 1,000 miles, Katrina made a move that surely meant doom for any future potential for the individuals to become a pair. Putting even more distance between them, she emigrated to South Korea to teach English to children. Her decision to shape the minds of the youth of Korea was a controversial one, as the continuing decline of education in our own country could perhaps be partially linked to her teaching overseas for a year.
Meanwhile, Charley was piecing together a career in letters, working as a writer and editor for entertainment magazines, and finally starting to enjoy a city where it's possible to walk into a Rite Aid and buy a bottle of vodka on a Sunday in January while wearing shorts. Oregon? What's Oregon?
After Georgetown, Katrina moved back to Oregon, spending a year in Bend while she sought out the perfect Ph.D. program. She was accepted to several, and almost ended up in Michigan or Ohio, but fate decided the time was right to finally bring this couple together, as the University of Southern California's prestigious Annenberg School for Communication made her an offer she couldn't refuse, and she headed to Los Angeles, to the city of angels, to where the story comes full circle, only 719 miles from where it began in 1979.
The rest of this tale is filled with the sort of details you can expect in an ultra-modern burgeoning relationship. A chance discovery of an online profile. An overly wrought introduction email. A response. Shock at the parallel biographies. A casual meeting for a quick drink that became two drinks, then three. Maybe even four. An instant recognition that this is someone special. A real, intense connection that continues to grow every day.
And now, surrounded by the people this pair loves most, less than five miles from where Katrina and Charley were born seven weeks apart, two stories become one on May 31, 2014.