Do you believe in soulmates? If you asked me yesterday, I might have said no, but after hearing this incredible story of first loves given a second chance, I think I’ve changed my mind.
High school sweethearts Alan and Jan, and old crushes Gregg and Laura, both graduated from Thomas S. Wooton High School in Maryland between 1977 and 1980. Both pairs lost touch soon after high school, but over thirty years later, they’ve each found their way back to their first love.
Alan and Jan were the first couple to reunite. When they first met, Alan was 12 years old, and saw Jan in one of his acting classes.
“There were lots of boys and girls there, but one in particular was cute as can be with little freckles on her face and cute strawberry blond hair,” Alan told HelloGiggles. “She of course was only 8 or 9 years old and I was too young to even say hi, but I used to think that someday I would marry her.”
Alan’s prediction didn’t lead to anything until the end of his senior year of high school, when he saw Jan in their school’s production of “Brigadoon.” That night, he went cruisin’ to the cast party and saw Jan again. He was taken away by her “Farrah Faucet hair,” even before he realized she was the same girl he remembered from elementary school.
The next week, he took her out on a date to Washington D.C., where Alan says “she wore the cutest little blue dress and [he] fell in love.” Alan and Jan dated the entire summer, sneaking away at every opportunity to be together, and Jan would bring him lunch at the construction site he worked at. He even taught her how to drive in his 1977 orange Ford Mustang.
When Alan left for college, he bought Jan a little three diamond chip ring and told her he wanted to marry her someday. But Jan was only 16 at the time, and her parents were alarmed at how serious they were. They were both devastated when her father forbid them from continuing to date.
“It was more painful than anything I had ever experienced, but that seemed to be that,” Alan shared. “We tried writing and sending secret letters to each other. I even drove back to see her cheer at a few football games, but alas, there was no way we could survive her father’s decree.”
Even when they weren’t together, Alan kept a photo he took of Jan in his wallet for decades—and he didn’t take it out until the mid 90s, when he was married to another woman.
In 2010, both Alan and Jan found themselves unattached once more, and reconnected through a post Jan made on Classmates.com. A few days after their formal reconnection, Alan proposed to her with a recreated version of the little ring he had given her in high school. They married soon after and have been living their own happily ever after ever since.
What’s the secret to their long-lasting love? Alan references the Rascal Flatts song “God Bless the Broken Road,” because “we had to take many steps to get from our past to our future and each one of them led us back to each other.” Now, Alan says they’re focused on their future.
“I love my wife with all my heart and after waiting since I was 12 years old, I believe that there is nothing that will ever keep us apart again.”
Gregg and Laura met back in fourth grade, and were closer to elementary school sweethearts than high school. While they never officially dated when they were younger, they both had crushes on each other when they were too young to act on them.
When Laura first arrived in the U.S. from overseas in fourth grade, she was extremely shy. “Gregg was probably one of the first people that opened up his heart to me and accepted me and who I was, even as a very dorky and insecure little girl,” Laura said. Meanwhile, Gregg was attracted to her “bright smile and warm personality.”
They played together throughout elementary school, but once they reached high school Gregg blossomed socially while Laura was stuck at home caring for six siblings, though they each thought about the other from time to time in the back of their minds.
Laura first reached out to Gregg again in 2008, after her divorce, but he was in a committed relationship at the time so they slowly lost touch. But when Laura came across Gregg’s name on LinkedIn last October and decided to reach out, there was nothing standing in their way.
Now, they’re happy as can be. Laura thinks the secret to staying in love is that she and Gregg are both huge romantics.
“We’ve always held on to that,” she said, “We were very much the same in the hope that we [would end up] with our soulmate. Gregg for me is very much my soulmate. . . It’s all about respecting each other’s space but also loving each other’s space, and who [we] are as individuals.”
Still not feeling the Valentine’s Day warm-and-fuzzies? You should know that Jan and Alan and Gregg and Laura aren’t alone.
In the era of Facebook, more and more reunions of lost loves from high school are happening every day. And science shows there may be some truth to the soulmates theory: One study found that people who rekindled youthful romances at least five years after their breakup have a 76% chance of staying together, compared with the 40% success ratio of marriages in the general population.
So this Valentine’s Day, don’t despair—you never know which unexpected soulmate could show up in your future.
Images provided by couples, and via.