High School Redux: A 1996 Playlist

Kathleen Anne Berroth and David Michael Diehr debated just about anything after they met in 1996 in their American cultures literature class at Sandy Union High School in Sandy, Ore.

“I was a super-liberal hippie,” said Ms. Berroth, who goes by Katie, and was new to the school. “David was, I guess, an independent Ayn Rand reader.”

They sat next to each other in class, and argued over symbolism, new literary terms and Ayn Rand’s book “Anthem” after he recommended it to her.

“I never asked her out,” said Mr. Diehr, who transferred to another school a few months later. “But I definitely thought about it.”

She then went East, and graduated from Wellesley with a degree in Japanese, and received an M.B.A. from N.Y.U. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in philosophy.

Twenty-two years later, in 2018, after he recognized her smile and dimples in a photo she posted on the dating app OkCupid, he got a second chance.

“You remind me very much of a girl I knew 20 years ago,” he messaged her on May 12. “So, shot in the dark, did you go to high school in Sandy, Oregon,” said Mr. Diehr, 40, who is a software product manager in the Portland office at Expeditors International, a freight forwarding company in Seattle.

A day later she messaged back.

“Hah, well, yes,’” said Ms. Berroth, 39, the director of corporate strategy and business operations at Zillow, a real estate technology company in Seattle, where they both live. They are now looking for a house in Portland, Ore.

They met that day at Rogue Eastside Brewery in Portland on Mother’s Day, while she was visiting her mother and stepmother. (Ms. Berroth, who lived two hours away by plane in San Francisco, had decided since she had no luck meeting anyone online there she would give it a try in Portland where she planned to spend half her time).

“The first date was full of history of over 20 years,” said Mr. Diehr, and at the end of the date she asked him if he wanted to kiss her, and he did.

The following weekend they went to the Portland Art Museum, and by the end of the weekend Mr. Diehr asked her if he could call her his girlfriend.

“Yes, let’s do this,” she recalled saying. “His emotional honesty and heart were disarming.’’

They video chatted when she went on a three-week trip to visit friends in Singapore and Hong Kong, and then saw each other almost every weekend when she got back.

“Every night he would send me a song, and we call it David’s lullabies,’’ she said. “I have a whole playlist of 60 songs.”

He proposed 10 months after they reunited when they took a trip to Japan in a little garden at Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto.

They had planned to get married May 16 at the Exchange Ballroom, an events space in Southeast Portland, expecting 200 guests including some from Japan, Hong Kong, Scotland and Australia. But that was before the coronavirus outbreak.

Instead, they were married on the same date in the front garden at the home of Peggy Berroth and Sara Kirschenbaum, the bride’s mother and stepmother.

“My moms pulled together a beautiful day beyond all expectations,” Ms. Berroth said. Nicholas Pyle, a Universal Life minister, and the fiancé of Ms. Berroth’s sister, officiated, before 11 socially distanced, masked family members, her mother’s dog and a photographer.

The couple also brought a foot-and-a-half-tall almond coconut cake from the Wandering Goose restaurant in Seattle, with plenty of leftovers for guests. They celebrated as a playlist of songs from 1996 was played.

“They were songs from the year we met,’’ Ms. Berroth said.

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