It was love at first sight for New Yorkers Gay Cioffi and Mark Obenhaus – but it took them 35 years to make it down the aisle.
The couple first met in 1978 while jogging along a Hamptons beach. Their eyes locked, they spoke and their three-week romance began immediately.
Gay, 27, and Mark, 32, spent the next 21 days enjoying each other’s company at an exclusive Long Island holiday resort, taking long drives, listening to music and lying for hours in each other’s arms.
One of their favourite things to do was star gaze, particularly at the fabulous goings-on next door where famed producer Nora Ephron and journalist Carl Bernstein (of Watergate fame) were holidaying.
But life intervened and, when Gay was offered her dream teaching job in Washington, she moved away. Mark, too, pursued his career as a documentary producer.
Yet, they never forgot each other.
‘It is a little mysterious,’ Mark, now 67, recently to the New York Times. ‘I do think the fact that we had both married young, we were not looking for our life partners.’Gay Cioffi and Mark Obenhaus on their wedding day – 35 years after they first met. Image: New York Times.
27-year-old Gay moved on to her dream job as a teacher in Georgetown, Washington D.C. and Mark, 32, returned to New York to become a successful documentary maker for PBS.
Both went on to marry and have children.Gay wed twice and Mark wed once, but his beloved wife Lynn died from brain and breast cancer in 2008.Living miles apart, they hadn’t forgotten each other, but they had certainly given up on the possibility of finding love again.
‘I thought, ‘I’ve been married twice, I’ve been so lucky to find love and romance,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t looking for that again,’ Gay told London’s Daily Mail.
It wasn’t until news of Nora Ephron’s death last year broke that Gay started reminiscing more deeply about those wonderful three weeks nearly four decades earlier.
She began to listen to Steely Dan again, the jazz/rock band she and Mark spend hours listening to non-stop during their whirlwind romance.
She also began revealing little bits of the story to her family. Encouraged by her niece, she Googled Mark – and found him on Facebook.
The hair was a little greyer and the moustache gone, but it was most definitely the man she’d fallen in love with oh-so-long-ago.
‘It is such a cliché to look up old boyfriends and then be disappointed, and it was so perfect; I don’t want to disturb what to me was this perfect memory,’ Gay told New York Times.
But she did and was surprised to receive message back from Mark – just four minutes later.
‘So nice to see your name appear,’ Mark wrote.
‘I thought of you and that summer we met when Nora Ephron passed. I have a home not far from where we met and was at Gibson Beach this weekend. I hope we can catch up some day. Life is too short, as they say.’
They did and, two dates later, they realised they were falling for each other all over again.
The couple married on August 3 in the Hamptons at a ceremony attended by their children and 185 guests.
When asked by the celebrant the traditional question to bind the marriage, instead of ‘I do’ both simply replied, “Definitely!”