Our Story

USTechnically, Stephen and I met during our freshman orientation at Georgetown College. However, I don’t remember my first impression of him from that meeting and he has only the vaguest of impressions of me. Though we officially knew each other from the very beginning, we didn’t start dating until we were both seniors, but first let’s backtrack a little.

Our first real memory of the other comes from Dr. Burch’s ENG213 class in spring of our freshman year. One of the poems studied in the course is Robert Browning’s “Porphyria’s Lover.” If you are unfamiliar with the poem–or just skipped that day of English Survey–here’s a quick recap: The speaker, a Victorian man very much in love with his significant other, is admiring her beauty as she rests her head on his shoulder one evening. He is then struck with the realization that she will age and her beauty will fade. To preserve this, he decides to strangle her with her very long hair, so that she will not age beyond this moment. Yes, it’s pretty weird, but that’s Victorian literature for you.

Anyway, Dr. Burch usually picks a few volunteers to act out the action in the poem for the class. Stephen and I were chosen to play the roles. I got the part because I had the longest hair in the class, and Stephen was chosen because Dr. Burch is a clairvoyant matchmaker or at random–whichever. So, there we were, reenacting the scene as Stephen faux-strangled me for the class.

Surprisingly, (or maybe not so surprisingly) this encounter did not begin our timeless romance, but it does make for a pretty great “first memory” story. From here, Stephen and I continued to coexist, but not really know each other, which is very surprising since we have many, many mutual friends. Through these mutual friends, we started spending time together our junior year and become friends ourselves.

By November of our senior year, we made it official. The from-friends-to-dating part of our relationship is pretty typical–we hung out with friends, started hanging out alone, realized we had a connection and bam! From our first real date at Mi Casita (where I honestly forgot my wallet–though to this day Stephen doesn’t believe me–and he had to pay), we were basically inseparable.

Following graduation, we were in a long-distance relationship for two years before getting married this past summer and moving to Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t really believe in fate or soulmates, but I definitely believe that Georgetown College was what brought us together. We had pretty different experiences as students there, but the overlap in activities in such a tight-knit college community is how our lives were able to connect.

Stephen Parker and Whitley Arens Parker ’11