“This kid has the most annoying Long Island accent,” she remembers having thought. “Wow! I cannot be around this kid because of the way he talks.”
Nevertheless, they did continue to talk, bumping into each other on campus over the next few weeks. “I was incredibly attracted to him,” Ms. Valliant said. “He played guitar, was No. 1 on the school’s tennis team, spoke Spanish, and was from New York.”
Eventually, they shared their first kiss. “It just sort of happened,” Ms. Valliant said. “I decided, let’s just go for it and get it over with.”
By the end of Mr. Watson’s first term, they were a couple, but Ms. Valliant didn’t really fall in love with him, she said, for several more years. It was on a 10-week cross-country bike trip, in 2012, in which she found herself struggling with the physical challenges as well as the stress and anxiety of riding on roads that had no shoulders to protect the bicycles from speeding cars and trucks, that it came to her that he was the one for her. “I realized, this man can protect me, he can care for he, more than any other man I’ve met in my life,” she said.
Mr. Watson’s version of their romance is a little more straightforward, though he doesn’t remember meeting her on his first day at the school. (“I was very overwhelmed,” he said.) But he knew long before she did that Ms. Valliant was his future, pinpointing the summer after her graduation, just six months or so after they became a couple.
“I was still young, but I definitely had that feeling, and it hasn’t really gone away,” he said. “We grew up together and we’ve formed each other, and I feel like we relate to each other on a higher level because of that.”