This interview has been abridged for length
AC: Can you share the story of how you two met?
KD: It was in the fall of your junior year, my freshman year. And I was on the cross country team, but I was super injured. And so I was collecting the warmups, you know, like those pants that you rip off that have the snaps. I was sitting with all the snap pants and water bottles, and it was right outside of Alumni Hall. There was this little L-shaped wall that was knee height. He was sitting, and I was standing on the little half-wall thing cheering, because we had on-campus practice and they were doing their loops. I was like “yay!” because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to do, so I was being enthusiastic. He was sitting there. You had your hat on because it was after school, but he used to do this thing where you didn’t fully put it on until it was resting. And he had his hemp necklaces on. And you still had your collared shirt on, but it was a chill collared shirt because we had a strict dress code. He was sitting on a bench and he was just noodling on the guitar or whatever, and I was like, “oh my gosh, so cute.” And there was some other person who was also injured or not running for a reason standing with me. They were older, they talked to you. And at some point, they introduced me to him, and then that was kind of it. I just ignored him and cheered because I was like, “I can’t talk to him, he’s too cool for me.” But that was the moment I met you.
RB: I remember all of that, except I just remember thinking how cute you are.
AC: In terms of your personalities when you were in high school, what is something about each other that has changed and what is something that has stayed the same?
KD: I could answer about you, and you could answer about me. You were very comfortable socially, but the way that you connected or made people laugh was you would poke fun at yourself, like self-deprecating. And when we started dating I would always say “Why are you doing that? You’re the best! You should not be making fun of yourself. You’re funny outside of poking fun at yourself.” And you were like, “Oh my god, I do do that.” You didn’t realize that you were connecting with people by putting yourself down a little. You don’t do that anymore, and you are much more like “This is who I am. Take it or leave it.” I always tell him that everything you love, you just love super hard and you don’t care. Like Pokemon – I like Pokemon, they’re adorable, but you are just triple down, “This is a weird hobby to other people, but I don’t care.” I always admire that so much.
RB: Thanks! For you, in some ways, it’s similar in that you are more comfortable pursuing the things you’re interested in and defining yourself in ways that you always wanted to without worrying so much about perception. I mean, like, the purple hair, the nose piercing, and to some extent, your engagement with eSports and gaming. This comfort level with what you like and presenting that outwardly, I think, has been a new change from high school where you were much quieter.
AC: What were each of your favorite classes at KO while you were students?
RB: I really loved French.
KD: No! Really?
RB: Yeah, shock. I loved the teachers that I had – I had Mrs. Loeb for two years, and she was fantastic. Prior to her, I had Mr. Weed, who was also fantastic. For me, French was connecting with my family. I saw it as beyond a subject, and I really enjoyed the cultural competency that it lent to me as a teenager. I also loved history classes – I particularly loved Poli Sci. It was such a complete run through the underpinnings of Western democracy and thought, then applied specifically through the American experiment. The lessons from that class have been overwhelmingly useful and broadly applied, not just as a professional, but also as a citizen.
KD: And you’ll be shocked. I loved math to start, and I didn’t even realize physics was a thing exactly, because you don’t get to it until senior year. It felt, from my perspective, like a very small group of kids that seemed to take it. Senior year, a lot of kids just didn’t take physics, so it wasn’t like this dream of mine to take it. But I loved math, and I particularly loved Mr. Lorden’s pre-calc class, and then I loved Ms. Garcia’s BC Calculus class. It was this tiny group, and I think I was the only girl, and it just felt like I could do hard things. I just never gave up and was rewarded for that, so I felt more confident and that I could hold my own with a bunch of dudes.
AC: What is your favorite KO tradition?
RB: I do love Hewett Day because, as a kid I always loved that there was this huge day thing. I was a mediocre soccer player at best, so when I stopped playing soccer, I would run the hamburger stand, and it was fun. It was just this cool thing where everybody was always on campus buzzing around, and that was great. Most of the traditions that I loved the most were from the swim team. We both swam together.
KD: There’s so much tradition in swimming. Like 100 hundreds, or story time, when you get out of the pool a little bit early, and then Mr. Krause and Mr. Miles tell a story from back in the day.
AC: Do you have a favorite TV show that you like to watch together, or are your tastes pretty different?
RB: Our tastes are really different.
KD: But we do come together for reality television. Like “Bachelor in Paradise:” it’s not good, but it’s good. We pick certain shows that we’ll watch together and then we watch things separately.
RB: I think I’m a bigger fan of “Too Hot to Handle.” “Bachelor in Paradise” kind of got me in the door with reality TV. At first with “Too Hot to Handle,” I couldn’t believe this was an actual thing. But I think it’s just better on every level than “Bachelor in Paradise.” It took the lessons from “Bachelor in Paradise” and just improved on it.
KD: So high quality, deep stuff. Documentaries.
RB: For sure.
KD: Super educational.
AC: If your family could only take three things to a desert island, what would you bring?
RB: Nintendo. A solar charger. Can that be one thing?
KD: No, no. So apparently no water, no food. I guess we assume we can survive? The switches, the cords, and the solar charger – so it never runs out.
AC: When you both have a day off, is there anything that you love to do together?
RB: Get coffee. We like to take the kids, and they each have a drink that they like to get. Rowan likes a pumpkin cream, Kinley likes a vanilla cream. I just love walking with them and chatting with them.
AC: If you were tasked to teach a class at KO together, what would you want to teach?
RB: We could teach a class about competitive Pokemon. Because, I could work through the content knowledge.
KD: And I would scaffold it for you!
RB: And you could run them through the math. There are these very long equations with steps and variables and all sorts of things.
KD: And then we can get so many plushies.
AC: Is there a place that you both hope to travel to together one day?
KD: We just love taking the kids to Disney World. That’s our favorite. They’re the perfect age and they love everything about it. I’d love to go when it’s not hot though.
RB: So maybe Disney World in December.
AC: What is your favorite restaurant to go to together? Or if you like to cook at home, what’s your favorite thing to cook together?
RB: “Mecha” is currently our running favorite. Blue Elephant Trail is also great. Phở Boston.
AC: In terms of music, are there artists you bond over, or are your tastes very different?
KD: Growing up in the 90s, we have a shared Spotify 90s playlist. It’s more just nostalgic. We love it because it reminds us of times in our dating life and high school. I think we probably connect the most over the 90s.
AC: If you could have a walk-up song play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?
RB: Mine would be “Damn It Feels Good To Be Me” by Andy Grammer.
KD: That’s a good one! The song that I play all the time is “Wait on Me” [by THEY. featuring Kacey Musgraves]. I like it just because in the fall, especially right now, everything’s so rushed and so intense. I respond too much to everybody’s energy and then I get frantic so I need to keep reminding myself to slow down. That’s not really what the song’s about but I think that’s what I’m making it about in my head.
AC: Do you each have a favorite memory from your time at KO?
KD: A lot of mine was without you, and a lot of yours was without me, because we only dated that last year. I think mine is our first date.
RB: That whole fall, I think, was really great. There were a lot of moments out of that, like when I saw you coming out of History of Religions, and then when you asked me out. And the dance – we were waiting to get picked up and our ride was late or whatever and [Upper School History Teacher Ted Levine] waited for us. I thanked him and he said “Don’t worry about it. Just invite me to the wedding.”
KD: I just think having you – having someone so special be a part of high school – I don’t know if in the moment I realized how special it was, but looking back on it, it was hard when you left. It felt so good to have you there.
AC: What are each of your favorite seasons and why?
RB: Fall: KO in the fall, on a day like today, it’s glowing. It’s just perfect.
KD: And the sunset, it’s just so cute.
RB: Lots of wonderful memories.
AC: What is one thing about parenting together that surprised you?
KD: I think you worry about the things I don’t worry about, and then I worry about the things that you don’t worry about.
RB: That’s been a surprise.
KD: I’m also surprised at how parenting is ridiculously difficult, but I don’t feel like it’s impossible because we’re doing it together. It’s hard, and they ask the craziest questions when you’re not ready, so there are daily surprises. But it’s so cool to see how we came together into the little humans.
RB: As parents, it just feels natural. It doesn’t feel like a role I don’t know how to do. I don’t know if I would be able to do it without you. And in your absence, like if you are traveling, it’s like you’re there with me. It feels like a unit.
KD: We dated for seven years before we got married, and then it was five years until we had kids, so that is a heck of a lot of time for us to really know each other. It’s nice that that was all kind of set, so we can super-focus on the newness of the kids versus still getting to know each other. I think that that has helped a lot.
AC: What is your favorite trait about each other?
RB: This is what makes her a fantastic teacher: you’re just so good at listening and identifying the thing that the person is really saying or concerned about, even past everything that they’re actually saying. I love that fact, and hate it because I can’t throw you off the scent because there’s no deflection – you get to the root of it. That’s what I love most about you because that is probably the thing I’m worst at and you’re like a homing missile and that’s really, really helpful.
KD: I have a lot of favorite things, but I think my favorite trait is how much you give without thinking about yourself. As a dad or a husband, if anything needs to happen, you are always like “No worries, I got this,” and you will go and do all the things. You’re so thoughtful, and you give because that’s what you do. And you do that at school too. In classes, I think it takes kids time to realize how thoughtful, considerate, and kind you are, because there’s no flexing, there’s no bragging, it’s just these consistent giving moments all the time.
AC: At KO, very few relationships last as long as yours have. I’m sorry to get deep, but the people want to know: do you have any relationship advice for KO students who are looking for love?
KD: I mean, I feel like in a lot of ways we had it easier. Everyone’s like “Back in the day…” but it’s really true. I don’t want to say social media, but the thing that helped us so much is that anything we knew about each other, it was all face-to-face or on the phone that was connected to the wall in your house. Everything was direct. We got the opportunity – which I didn’t realize how special it was – to only make decisions and judgments based on our actual interactions. There wasn’t a lot of reading into things. There wasn’t a lot of worrying. We weren’t overwhelmed by noise, and I think that helped us so much. And if we didn’t understand something about each other, we would just ask each other. No rumors, nothing else. I didn’t have anybody in my ear. There were some judgments about our age difference, but it would only happen at school. It wouldn’t happen online. So it was easy to block it out and not take it personally because I would be like “Well I don’t care what they think.” Now, you would have to craft or manufacture or thoughtfully curate your life just so you could authentically get to know someone. Other than just not looking and not engaging, keeping your relationship precious.
RB: I guess my advice would be, if you’re in a relationship, you owe it to yourself to be exactly who you are. Even if that runs the risk of potentially alienating that person, if they can’t accept or won’t accept who you are in every way, shape, and form, it’s really important that a relationship is founded on understanding of the other person and acceptance. At the end of the day, if you don’t have that true understanding of who each person is, you’re not gonna be able to go for the long haul.
AC: What is the best life advice that you would give your high school selves or to any KO student?
KD: It’s hard because I think of college, which is what everyone is stressed about right now, but anything I say about that isn’t going to land for like another 10, 20 years. I understand why this next step is everything because your future is a question mark. I just wish that there was some way to convey how, while this is a big step, it’s not the biggest step. It’s not the end of something, it’s not the beginning of everything either. There are so many more decisions after college, or during college, there’s just so much coming that where you go is important, but I just wish it wasn’t this huge “Defining who you are” moment. I don’t want my students right now to have their identity wrapped up in where they’re going to go because they are wonderful, and they are they are so good and they have so much to offer regardless of where they go. You’re so special and can do so much and it just doesn’t matter. You’re going to do your best wherever you go and that’s what matters.
RB: My advice would be that now is really important. I was guilty of this too, there’s this imagining that what’s next is the most important thing: where I’m going to go, who I’m going to become, who I’m going to meet, and what I’m going to do. And all those things are true to a degree. There are all these fantastic things that could happen. But you never truly leave your home. And home will always feel like home when you come back. You can look really broadly at this and say Connecticut, you can just look really specifically and say KO. There will never be another place that knows you at a time where you will make so many huge steps in growth and development as there is right here. The person that you become here really does become your core. While it’s great to try to jump into the next thing, you’re never really truly going to be able to push it aside, because you made those choices and you became that person for very specific reasons, whether you’re aware of it or not, and those always have a lot of value. Ms. Silver says, “You’re the prize.” That’s her thing, and she’s absolutely right. You’re the prize, and this place knows you, and we’ll always know you, and don’t rush that.