Local Love Stories and How They All Began

The Art of Romance is Alive and Well, as These Happy Couples Demonstrate

Couple Sarah Coakley and David Holtz are long-distance dating on multiple platforms — including Face Time, shown here.

Matt Burke

(page 1 of 4)

History, literature and film are brimful of tales of great love that ultimately end on a down note: “Casablanca’s” Rick and Ilsa, Lancelot and Guinevere, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, any poor sap who has the bad luck to appear in a Nicholas Sparks novel (can you say “The Horse Whisperer”?) and the biggest downer of them all, “Romeo and Juliet.”

But there’s one place where you can always count on a happy ending — the romantic comedy movie. Usually, the lovers “meet cute” in some amusing way. While there might be a bit of drama in the middle, we know any misunderstandings or obstacles will be overcome and love will triumph in the end.

In honor of Valentine’s Day 2015, we’re casting aside the high drama and tragedy to embrace the rom-com. Local couples share their how-we-met stories filled with love, laughter — and perhaps a film-worthy fillip of whimsy.


Sarah Coakley and David Holtz
A Facebook-Facilitated Affair

They met 17 years ago, and some of the details are lost in the mists of time, but David Holtz and Sarah Coakley remember, with great clarity, when Cupid’s dart hit them both — Aug. 11, 2014. But if they didn’t, all they’d have to do is scroll back on their Facebook feed to the fateful day when Sarah posted a humorous observation about Florida State University’s sorority rush. David answered — he was particularly struck by her phrase “blinding cleavage” — and a mild flirtation ensued in the comments, which led to texts, which led to phone calls, which led to Skype, which led to … but we get ahead of ourselves.

The two first met years ago at an adult education class at Tallahassee’s Congregation Shomrei Torah. Both were unhappily married at the time, but didn’t know that about each other. “We liked to sit together, and that was the whole relationship,” Sarah says. She does, however, admit to crushing on him a bit: “I noticed he would doodle (and) draw little pictures in the margins. He was funny, and he always smelled so good.”

David was pretty much oblivious. “I knew little about her, but … I remembered her voice and laugh,” he recalls.

He moved. She moved. She moved back. Both got divorced. Fast-forward a decade and a half: About a year ago, Sarah, an artist, was living in Tallahassee and working at Florida State University’s Master Craftsman Studio. David was a general manager for Dade Paper, living in Annapolis, Maryland. Both were on Facebook and, because of their Tallahassee and synagogue connection, had common online friends. After seeing him in a friend’s comments, Sarah sent him a friend request and … nothing. For several months, it languished in the cloud.

“I had no idea that if people sent requests while I was offline, they were floating out there in the FB ether, waiting for me to acknowledge!,” he wrote in an email. Ultimately he got a clue, reciprocated her Facebook friendship and commented on the “blinding cleavage” post.

The chemistry was immediate; messages flew back and forth on every communication platform. After a week, he sent an email asking if he could fly into town and take her on a date — with an addendum listing possible weekends for a visit.

“I got ready for that date like I was going to the prom,” she says. They planned to meet at Sage restaurant.

Being middle-age adults — he’s in his mid-50s, she’s 10 years younger — they had considered the possibility that the so-far long-distance romance might not pass the, shall we say, physical chemistry test.

‘Well, I probably should just kiss you right away because that’s the only way to tell.’

“He said ‘Well, I probably should just kiss you right away because that’s the only way to tell,’” Sarah relates.

“I guess he was watching for me and somehow recognized me after all these years because … he hurried with his single long-stemmed red rose, got the door for me, got me out of the car and didn’t say a word of greeting. Just boom!, a big ‘Gone with the Wind’ fiery kiss,” she says. “There were two old ladies sitting on that bench in front of Sage … and we gave them something to talk about at bingo. Chemistry was there, it turns out.”

The pair has agreed to visit each other at least once a month and take stock of whether their relationship will be a forever thing in a year or so.

Watch the photo shoot with Sarah and David:
Story continues below...


“He writes me handwritten love letters. On his monogrammed beautiful stationary,” Sarah confides. “What’s more romantic than that in the age of email? He’s so funny. Whatever I say that I think is all witty and funny, he tops me every time. And it’s intimidating when your boyfriend’s prettier than you are too.”

Sarah is confident she’s found The One.

“I’m lucky in a lot of ways, but I’ve never, ever been lucky in love. Until I finally got it gloriously, spectacularly right.”


Read another love story on the next page...

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