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Cars: He Jogged Back Into Her Life

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Love|He Jogged Back Into Her Life

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Credit…Juliana Tessaro

Shortly after graduating from college in 2003, Marisol Orihuela and Mark Roland both ended up living in the same Atlanta house that was sponsored by the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, to which both had enlisted for a year of public service.

Mr. Roland, a Notre Dame graduate, says he had a crush on her; Ms. Orihuela, who graduated from Boston College, says they had a fling. In the years that followed, they kept up mostly through social media, but with the occasional meet-up in a city where one lived and the other was passing through. During that time, he received a master’s in public affairs from Princeton and she a law degree from Yale.

Eventually their correspondence waned.

In July 2017, Ms. Orihuela, now 39, was in Washington for a hearing relating to her work as a clinical associate professor of law at Yale, where she co-directs two legal clinics. She was startled to see Mr. Roland, also now 39, jogging as she was traveling in a rideshare. She had no inkling that he had moved to Washington and was working as a program director for global education at Results for Development, an international development research and policy center in Washington.

“I sent him a message: ‘I think I just saw you on the side of the street. Was that you?’” she said.

He responded and they started talking. “It felt remarkable to see an old friend,” she said.

A few months later, when she was heading to Washington again, in November, she texted him, and the two met up in a group that included a friend of his and a friend of hers.

“There was something magnetic,” she said.

The next three days of her District of Columbia trip, the two spent time together every day. “I don’t do that with everyone I’m just catching up with,” she said. “There was definitely a spark at that point.”

But she was also unclear on its significance. “Mark is a very, very friendly person,” she said. “So when you’re trying to flirt with him, you don’t know if he’s flirting with you or just being the friendly person he is.”

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Credit…Maribel Saimre

Mr. Roland said he felt something but wasn’t sure what to make of it either. “It was hard to tell if there was anything there,” he said.

So he concocted a train trip that would have him passing through New Haven, Conn., where she lives, just a few days before Christmas. He was actually planning to spend time with his parents, in Massachusetts, and so he intended to take a train south to New Haven, if Ms. Orihuela was amenable to a get-together.

She was. She took him out for New Haven’s specialty — pizza — and then introduced him to her Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix, Rigoberta.

“Then we had a first kiss and talked about how excited we were, and that is where the real transition went from,” she said.

Last year the two decided to marry. They began planning a wedding that would reflect their shared values, and eventually settled on a huge party in Lima that would bring their families together and allow for a Roman Catholic Mass and a civil ceremony. She was born in Peru and spent the first 10 years of her life there.

But when the coronavirus pandemic disrupted their plans, they accepted it philosophically. “This is the universe’s way of saying maybe we are meant to do something small at this moment,” Mr. Roland said.

On Aug. 8, the two were married at Yale’s Roman Catholic Chapel of St. Thomas More, with the Rev. Ryan M. Lerner performing the ceremony.

“We both did so much with our lives that, would I take more extra decades with Mark? Sure I would,” she said. “But I feel really good about how our relationship has come together.”

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