A weekend beach trip proved to hold much more than rest and relaxation for Brooke Lutz and Kathleen Conlan.
The couple met in May 2014 in Provincetown, Mass., and earlier this summer got engaged at the New York City Pride Parade.
Lutz, 29, a native of Northeast Philadelphia and a former PGN advertising account executive, planned the P-Town trip to celebrate her birthday and other festivities, while Conlan, 34, a native of suburban Boston, booked the same hotel just the day before for a last-minute Memorial Day outing.
They met serendipitously outside the hotel as Lutz and her friends returned to their room after a night out on the town.
Lutz said she was immediately drawn to Conlan.
“She was a tall, stunningly beautiful red head — and she was carrying a box of alcohol,” Lutz laughed, referring to the box Conlan was using to carry her signature whiskey to an outdoor firepit. “She may have had me locked in even before we officially met, but the way she carried herself and her conversations all night sealed it for me.”
“The first night we met we stayed up the entire night talking with no pauses,” Conlan added. “I thought she was the most interesting and amazing person I’d ever met.”
They parted ways that weekend but embarked on a relationship over the 300-mile distance, with frequent trips from Philadelphia to Boston and back again. When they couldn’t see each other, they’d get creative with technology, having “FaceTime dates” or watching movies together on the phone.
“It was hard, but the distance showed us, even in the beginning, that the connection we had superseded the geographical inconveniences,” said Lutz, who closed the gap by moving to Massachusetts this summer. “We overcame the odds by focusing on the relationship and how rare it is to find someone who intrigues you the way we intrigue each other. I’d travel the six hours from Philly to Boston daily to get to her if I had to.”
As their relationship developed, Lutz said she came to appreciate Conlan’s “humor, her heart and her multi-layered mind.”
“She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met. There’s a verve about her that impacts everyone she meets. It has certainly had an immeasurable impact on me,” she said.
Conlan counted among Lutz’s most valuable traits her creativity, intelligence, humor, complexity and free-spiritedness. She said the pair has a shared sense of adventure — such as their willingness to drive more than 20 hours cross-country for a friend’s wedding, only to return a day later.
“She is the only other person I have known that is a free spirit in the same exact way that I am,” Conlan said. “She knows how to live in the moment, slow down and take in the beauty that surrounds you in that moment and also have appreciation for it.”
From navigating Boston during this past winter’s record snowfall to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner in Philadelphia to spending time with Conlan’s niece and nephew, Conlan said the backdrop doesn’t have to be extraordinary for them to make lasting memories.
“In those days my heart has managed to steal moments in time that I will forever remember,” she said.
That willingness to find the beauty in any experience keeps their relationship refreshing, Lutz said.
“I always wanted someone who, if I was dropped off anywhere in the world with, we’d be OK. I found that person in Kat,” Lutz said. “I’m grateful that anywhere we go and whatever we do, we manage to truly enjoy ourselves.”
When they do encounter problems, Lutz said, they naturally strike a unique balance.
“She’s calm when I’m being crazy and in return I’m patient when she’s panicked,” Lutz said. “We take care of each other and I try to remember that even on the harder days she still makes me the happiest. We allow each other and ourselves to be our weirdest and wildest. We feed off each other’s peculiarities and it works.”
As their relationship solidified, Lutz noted — and as marriage equality began gaining steam — she began thinking more seriously about marriage.
“As the times have changed favorably toward LGBT rights, it has begun to mean much more,” she said. “And the thought of investing in Kat feels incredibly right to me.”
When they found themselves at the New York City Pride Parade just two days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in June, Conlan said the timing was perfect for a proposal.
“I couldn’t imagine spending another minute not being engaged to her,” Conlan said. “We had been discussing it and I knew she assumed I would never be the one to propose. I couldn’t wait to show her that I was sure she was the person I wanted to spend my life with.”
Lutz said she was shocked by the proposal, which, she added, had a perfect backdrop, amid the extra-festive Pride celebration.
“That day was both a public and private celebration for us,” she said.
The couple is planning the wedding for early 2018.