True Romance: The Airport Connection

Lauren and Stuart: The Airport ConnectionPhotographed by Tamara ReynoldsA highly unorthodox proposal sealed the deal for these two frequent fliers.
LAUREN: I was 35 and living in Richmond, Virginia. Somehow a lifelong partner didn’t seem to be in the cards; I was coming to peace with that. Then I bumped into an old friend at a conference. I started talking with him, but somebody else was standing there.

STUART: I don’t think you looked at me once during the whole conversation, but when you walked away, I said, “I have to meet her.” Our friend said, “She usually goes to the afternoon social hours,” so I showed up. And there I was, talking to you for the first time. There was this fascination with you that was almost magnetic. It felt like we’d known each other for a very, very long time.

LAUREN: I was a bit dismayed to realize that you were living in Salt Lake City. There was the excitement of feeling really connected, but then we had to go our separate ways. So we began this long-distance thing: I was in Richmond, you were in Salt Lake, and our airline carrier was Delta. We’d fly through Cincinnati or Atlanta. Somebody — I think it was me, you think it was you — decided, Wouldn’t it be fun to leave notes for each other?

STUART: We’d write a bit of poetry or some form of appreciation or just a thought. Then we would fold them up and tuck them under a chair in the airport and send a map to the other person with the gate area, and X marks the spot.

LAUREN: Although we’d known each other for a only few months, it didn’t seem right to spend Thanksgiving apart. It was a wonderful holiday. As I was heading from Salt Lake through Cincinnati, the only thing I could think to put on my note was “Will you marry me?” I wasn’t ready to tell you about the note, but I was ready to write it. In March, I finally gave you a map to find the note.

STUART: I flew to Cincinnati, and my plane was delayed in landing. I found myself running down the concourse, hoping to get to the next plane in time. I was running at a pretty good clip, and all of a sudden, I remembered the note. I was debating, Should I stop and risk my connection? But I had to see if I could grab that note. So I peeled into the gate area and identified which chair it was. There was a fellow sitting there, wearing a very expensive suit, and I walked over and said, “Excuse me, I think I dropped my pen when I was sitting here previously,” and I reached under the seat. I grabbed the note, took off running down the hallway, and got to the gate just before the door swung shut.

LAUREN: Back in Richmond, I was thinking: Would you find the note? What were you going to think when you got it? I ducked out of a faculty meeting and drove out to the Richmond airport. I had a big bunch of flowers, and I felt like a bride waiting for her groom. I still remember you walking off the plane, and the minute I saw you, I knew you had found the note. You just had that glow. I had the bouquet of flowers, and we gave each other a big hug, and you said, “Yes!”


Stuart and Lauren have been married for 17 years and have a 16-year-old son, Dylan. They live in Salt Lake City and work as psychologists.


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