Maybe it was the sunlight. Or, perhaps the yellow shirt Dannie Lynn Fountain wore the day she met Kaitlyn Aurora Murphy in person.
“When I saw her she looked absolutely gorgeous, with a yellow glow,” said Ms. Murphy, who on July 25, 2020, traveled an hour and a half — first boarding atrain from Valparaiso, Ind., to Chicago, then taking an Uber — to meet Ms. Fountain at the Spoke & Bird Bakehouse in the city’s Pilsen neighborhood.
They had connected on the dating app Hinge on July 5 while Ms. Murphy, who received a law degree magna cum laude from Valparaiso University, and graduated cum laude from the University of Illinois at Springfield, took a breather from studying for the bar exam.
“I love everything about this,” Ms. Murphy, 27, recalled thinking when she came across Ms. Fountain’s profile, fully aware of the dating checklist she kept in her cellphone.
Ms. Fountain, also 27, had a list of so-called non-negotiables, too.
“I have been in therapy and relearned who I was and have strong boundaries for what I would and would not tolerate,” said Ms. Fountain, who graduated from Albion College in Albion, Mich., received a master’s degree in human resource management from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind., and is now pursuing a doctorate in business administration at Capella University in Minneapolis.
At first they chatted via Hinge, keeping messages light and comparing notes on the TV show “How to Get Away With Murder,” which they each happened to be bingeing on Netflix.
Three days after connecting on the app, they switched to texting and Ms. Murphy’s serious, no-nonsense side kicked in.
“I really wanted to get married, and be with someone who has the same values,” said Ms. Murphy.
In their early exchanges, the two discussed the death of George Floyd a month earlier, and the Innocence Project, which exonerates wrongfully convicted individuals.
“It was clear from our social values we were aligned,” said Ms. Fountain, who was also game on getting married. She is one of a dozen siblings, while Ms. Murphy has one sister.
About a week and a half after they began texting, midway through a seven-hour FaceTime date, Ms. Murphy nervously brought up her sobriety.
“She said ‘I’m sober,’” Ms. Fountain recalled. “I chuckled and said ‘I am, too.’ We were both grateful that we had this in common.”
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The day they met up in Chicago, where Ms. Fountain lived at the time, the two headed back to her apartment after picking up tea, coffee and baked goods at the cafe. They then watched the final episode of “How to Get Away With Murder,” which they saved for the occasion. A few hours later, they had their first kiss, as they watched “The Little Mermaid.”
After Ms. Murphy boarded the 6:20 p.m. train home (as it began to roll away), she quickly texted Ms. Fountain to make their relationship official. They spent Labor Day weekend at a friend’s house in Gull Lake, Mich., and Ms. Fountain cooked dinner for Ms. Murphy’s birthday in September.
A few weeks after the bar exam, Ms. Murphy, who passed, landed a clerkship position in Minnesota; she is now a district court law clerk with the Minnesota judicial branch in Detroit Lakes.
Ms. Fountain, who works for Google, spent all of December 2020 in Minnesota working remotely, and then visited at two week stretches each month. They enjoyed Friday dinners at Lakeside Tavern and Brewery, followed by ice cream at Dairy Queen, and then watching the sunset over Detroit Lake.
To keep their relationship on track, the couple also began rigorously working through chapters in “Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love,” by Julie and John Gottman.
In May 2021, Ms. Murphy, proposed with a kite-shaped black onyx ring, on a quiet dock in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Rochert, Minn. Ms. Fountain is taking Ms. Murphy’s surname.
“I got on one knee, I started to cry because I love her so much,” Ms. Murphy said.
On Nov. 21, they were married in a self-uniting ceremony at the Glass House, an Airbnb along Barn Smith Lake in Bremen, Ala. That same month, Ms. Fountain moved to Seattle for a job assisting in the hiring of software engineers in Google’s human resources division there.
“We’ll make long distance work just like we have,” said Ms. Murphy, who plans to join Ms. Fountain in Seattle after her clerkship ends in 2023.