Meeting my wife Gail 38 years ago at Harvard

I arrived in America in September 1972.

I knew virtually no one. I’d left all my friends behind in England. So I was very eager to make new friends.

On September 23, 1972, I attended the orientation for new graduate students at the Kennedy School at Harvard.

I dressed as classily and elegantly as I could. I wore a bright green suit, a purple floral shirt, and a purple tie.

I arrived a few minutes late and walked down then center aisle looking for a seat. As I looked to my left, I saw a beautiful young woman and moved in her direction to sit next to her.

After the orientation, we talked briefly, and I—eager to meet new friends—said to her, “Would you like to pop around to my flat for a drink sometime?”

Gail declined.

I found out afterwards that she went home to her roommates and told them that she had met a “real mover from Great Britain” at the orientation.

A week later I was walking through Harvard Yard on my way to class when I bumped into Gail coming in the opposite direction. We chatted and after a bit, when I suggested we get dinner, she invited me back to her apartment for dinner and we had grilled tuna sandwiches.

And that’s how we met.

I loved Gail right away, but I had no idea how serious we were until two things happened.

The first was that after we’d been dating for a couple of months, one evening we were on a bus on our way to a party. We were chatting and thinking nothing of it. As we reached our destination, a complete stranger, who’d been sitting next to us, turned to us and said, “May I say something to you both? It’s wonderful to see you both so happy and so much in love!”

I was totally clueless.

The second thing that happened was that early one morning I received a telegram from Western Union with a note of congratulations on our engagement from my parents, who had misinterpreted one of my letters. Later that morning we were having coffee at a little coffee shop just off Harvard Square. I nonchalantly said, “Who would want to get married? Marriage is ridiculous.” Gail rose from her chair visibly upset and replied, “Then let’s just forget it, right now!”

Again, I was totally clueless.

Anyway, we had a fantastic year together at Harvard, and then I moved to DC to work at Booz Allen, while Gail stayed in Boston to finish her Masters degree.

I went up to visit her in Boston on the first weekend after I started living in Bethesda. As she opened the door to greet me, I looked at her, and for the first time, realized I could never live my life without her.

We got married on June 7, 1975, over 35 years ago. At our wedding, I called Gail the light of my life, and she still is after all these years.