The first thing Jill noticed about Josh was his shoes. Standing behind him on the bus, she found herself wondering if this man’s face was as good as his outfit. “When he finally turned around I went, ‘Oh, he’s the love of my life!’” Jill says with a laugh. Josh on the other hand, was oblivious to Jill’s interest, until a week later when they hopped off the bus and she thrust an origami crane with her phone number written on it into his hands. While Josh was in a relationship at the time, the encounter stuck in his mind. “It was a big thing for me,” he says. “I’d never been given a number, so I was taken aback!” He politely texted to say he was flattered, but not single, and then, crucially, saved her number.
A year and a half later, when Josh’s relationship ended, he remembered the girl with the crane. “I still had Jill’s number, so I guess I was keeping it on purpose.” He sent her a message asking if she still caught the same bus, and the rest is history. “From the first date, it was instant attraction. We were very close, very quickly,” says Josh. Adds Jill, “There was a moment, early on. We were walking through the botanic gardens and I looked at him and thought, ‘I really want to see you grow old.’”
After their first date, Jill invited Josh to watch her dance in a dress rehearsal of Giselle. Along he went, by himself, and even though he’d never been to the ballet, Josh quickly became a front row regular.
More than four years after the origami exchange, Josh decided to return the favour. “I wanted to bring it full circle and propose with a crane,” he says. “I stayed home from work the day I was going to ask her – I was so nervous and had to practise folding paper cranes.”
To this day, Jill is still not entirely sure what compelled her to make that crane for Josh all those years ago. But as the couple plan their impending nuptials, she’s certain it was one of the best ideas she’s ever had. “I just know that Josh will always have my back,” she says. “I know I’m his number one, which is a pretty amazing thing. I love that we’ll always fight for each other.”
Daniel Richardson-Clark, 30, Union Official, and Rob Richardson-Clark, 34, Barrister
“I beat him at a public-speaking competition”
Tension hung in the air as Daniel and Rob awaited the judging panel’s decision at the Justice Michael Kirby Plain English Public Speaking Competition in 2008. While Daniel was in his first year at Sydney University, and Rob in his final, they were the two top contenders to take out first place. “We were both in it to win it,” Daniel explains. “There was a long deliberation and then it was announced that, much to my surprise, Rob had won the night. Afterwards, I went up to Justice Kirby to thank him, and he was very clear with me that I should have won! That’s the important story here – that I should have won but Rob did.” Daniel rolls his eyes and laughs off the long-gone resentment, but emphasises that on that particular evening, both parties walked away never expecting to see each other again.
So two years later, when a message from Rob surprisingly showed up in Daniel’s Facebook inbox, he was more than a little bit dubious. “I think the quote from Rob was, ‘I’ve joined your team,’” says Daniel. “At the time of the competition Rob hadn’t come out, whereas I’d been out and proud for some time. I thought I could show him the ropes by taking him out to brunch. But in the course of it, I quite fell for him, I’m afraid.”
After nearly four years of dating long distance, Daniel and Rob settled in Sydney – and relished the opportunity to “hone [their] debating skills on a full-time basis”.
Having campaigned for marriage equality in Australia, the couple tied the knot last September. They laugh thinking back to their first meeting, agreeing it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. “I never would have gone out with that Daniel,” Rob says. “Yeah, because you were straight,” Daniel interjects. “And you were unbearable,” Rob grins. “But I think what I love most about Daniel is the sense of fun and love and happiness he brings,” Rob adds. “I’ve made him more organised and practical, and he’s made me more generous and caring.”
Anita Leighton Stevens, 83, Personnel Consultant, and David Stevens, (passed away in 2019 aged 93), Forensic Accountant and Jazz Pianist
“He responded to an ad I’d put in The Sydney Morning Herald”
At 66, and after 10 years single, Anita was ready to meet someone. But when she decided to write a personal ad to be published in The Sydney Morning Herald, she had no idea she would find the man who would be by her side for the next 17 years. “I said I was a self-supporting person who had a very nice life, lovely friends and family, but still wanted to meet that someone special,” she recalls. It wasn’t long before Anita received a call from David, inviting her out to lunch. She was instantly taken by his “beautiful voice”, and agreed to meet him over sandwiches and a cup of tea. And despite David’s “rather terrible clothes and shoes”, a second date was arranged. “He said he fell in love with me that night,” Anita remembers. “I threw my head back and laughed so hard he saw all my fillings. From then on, he made me laugh every day.”
They were a perfect match, utterly at ease in each other’s company, says Anita. “A little while in, we were moseying along and he asked my thoughts on how things were going. I said, ‘Well, I’m not here to waste time.’ And he said, ‘Nor am I, so why don’t you move in?’” On moving day, she arrived to find a giant banner strung across the verandah which read, “Anita, welcome to your new house!”
The following year they married with a small ceremony in a friend’s garden in New Zealand. A romantic through and through, David always tried to find ways to make Anita feel special. “He insisted that we have an anniversary once a month,” she laughs. “He would make a photo album every time we had a holiday. And he bought me flowers every week.”
In May last year, Anita and David’s love story was abruptly cut short. “I was at the beach and my phone rang, and it was David. He said, ‘I wonder if you could come home, because I’m having trouble breathing.’
So, as you can imagine, I drove home like a lunatic. When I got there, he was sitting in his study, looking grey-faced, and said he’d already rung the ambulance. Typical David, organising ahead of time.” Later that day, David passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones. While his absence has understandably left an enormous hole in her life, Anita will always be grateful for the happy years they shared together. “We cared for each other so much,” she says. “He always said the right thing when I was upset and we rarely had a cross word in all our time together.”
Chloe Donnelly, 32, Business Specialist, and Chloe (Chlo) Dunn, 28, New Mum
“I made her daily coffee”
Given that they share the same name, it’s not surprising that Chloe and Chlo were destined for each other. But from their first meeting at a beachside cafe on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, only one of them realised this. With waves crashing nearby and the smell of roasting coffee beans wafting through the air, Chloe noticed a new customer arrive. As she took her order (“Flat white with one sugar, thanks”), Chloe couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d just met someone significant: “There was intrigue right from the beginning. She came in every day, but I didn’t have enough courage to talk to her.” Eventually, months later, the perfect opportunity presented itself. “I had this terrible shift and Chlo mouthed, ‘Are you OK?’ over the counter. So I turned around and asked if she wanted to get a drink after work.”
Once they’d downed a beer at the local pub, it became clear they had more than just names in common. “I walked away thinking I’d met the love of my life, while Chlo thought she’d just met a new drinking buddy. Ten years later it’s clearly evident I have better intuition than her,” says Chloe. It didn’t take Chlo long to figure out she’d misjudged the situation. “A few days later I stayed over at her place and never left. We’ve been together every day since,” she says.
In fact, they enjoyed each other’s company so much that they decided to work alongside one another – jointly running hugely successful cafe The Penny Royal in Mosman for more than six years before recently selling. On their six-year anniversary Chloe popped the question over homemade banana pancakes, and two years later they married at New York’s City Hall. When their daughter Lennon was born last August, her arrival only served to further solidify their relationship and set the stage for the next chapter of happy chaos. Although so much has changed since that first day at the cafe, both agree that while they have grown older and wiser, much of their relationship remains the same. “Chlo is like warm, baked cookies,” Chloe smiles. “So wholesome. So kind. And hilarious – we laugh a lot, at ourselves and each other.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of marie claire.