“We were just two weird kids,” Karina Rodriguez Hilario said of herself and Andrew Levin while reminiscing about their high school days.
They met in February 2012 during rehearsals for their school’s production of the musical “Guys and Dolls.” He was a sophomore, and she was a freshman — both at the Horace Mann School in the Bronx.
Mr. Levin was impressed by her dance skills and her “beautiful smile,” he said, and she admired his singing and acting abilities. So he asked her out. But during their first date at Central Park, where they had cookies from Levain Bakery, they were “very awkward and uncomfortable the whole time,” he said.
“It was really bad,” Ms. Rodriguez, 26, added.
They spent the next two years avoiding each other, but it wasn’t easy: They were both theater students who were in the same friend circles.
They occasionally still talked, and Mr. Levin, now 27, suggested several times that he was still interested in pursuing something romantic with her, but she was hesitant.
“I think I was just young and stressed out about the idea of being with another person,” Ms. Rodriguez said. After the uncomfortable first date, she thought to herself: “Oh my God, I can’t do that again.”
So Mr. Levin decided he would ask another girl to his senior prom in 2014. But a few of his friends told Ms. Rodriguez that they thought Mr. Levin would ask her to prom during Acappellooza, an a cappella concert by prep schools in New York.
During the concert, Ms. Rodriguez was sitting in the audience with her friends and anticipating the prom proposal, colloquially known as “promposal.” But when Mr. Levin went onstage and asked another girl to prom, she was shocked.
“I felt really sad,” she said. “I was like, ‘Why do I feel sad given that I haven’t returned his advances?’”
Mr. Levin, an embedded software lead at Regent Craft, a company which makes sea-glider vehicles, said that “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone.”
After the “promposal incident,” as the two call it, they started spending more time together. They starred in the school’s production of “Brigadoon,” and Mr. Levin celebrated Ms. Rodriguez’s birthday with her in May.
On June 23, 2014, before Ms. Rodriguez left for a summer trip to Japan, Mr. Levin threw her a surprise party in his mother’s apartment.
Ms. Rodriguez’s friends were in on the surprise, and they all walked around the reservoir in Central Park afterward. At one point during the walk, Ms. Rodriguez and Mr. Levin were alone together. “If I wasn’t so in my head, this could have been where we would kiss,” said Ms. Rodriguez, a tech lead at HubSpot, a software company. “But I was too anxious, and I didn’t do anything about it.”
So that night, she sent him a “risky text”: “I really wish I would have kissed you today.”
“And then I threw my phone,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “I literally turned off my phone for like 12 hours.”
Mr. Levin saw the text the next morning, and although he can’t remember exactly what he wrote back, his response cemented their relationship status. (The two bantered trying to remember his response to the “risky text”: “We can find the receipt,” she said. “I don’t want to,” he said.)
The first five years of their relationship were mostly spent long distance. He went away for college at Northwestern University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. She graduated from high school a year after he did and went to Yale, where she received a bachelor’s in computer science.
They moved in together in Boston in September 2019, and then they relocated to Providence, R.I., in January 2023.
[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]
In December 2021, Mr. Levin proposed with a scrapbook that Ms. Rodriguez had gifted him on their first anniversary. The book contained only photos and mementos from their first year together; half of it was left empty, and it ended with a page that said “to be continued.” Then, for their third anniversary, Ms. Rodriguez filled the second half with photos of all the places they’d traveled to together, and ended it with a question: “Where will we go next?”
For the proposal, Mr. Levin taped a ring at the end of the book, answering Ms. Rodriguez’s question from years before: “Anywhere is fine with me, as long as I’m with you.” He presented it to her a few days after Christmas during their yearly holiday gift exchange. She recalled paging through it and reliving their memories: “We were walking through our relationship from Year 1, and I had no idea what was going on.” That is, until she reached the page with the ring and began tearing up.
On June 10, the couple wed at Rule of Thirds, a Japanese restaurant in Brooklyn, in front of 126 guests. Jake Levin, who was ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion and is Mr. Levin’s cousin, officiated.
Friends from different stages of the couple’s lives, as well as family, including members from Ms. Rodriguez’s side who had traveled from the Dominican Republic, all shared short vignettes about the duo’s relationship.
“We were high schoolers — everything was messy, including us,” Mr. Levin said during his vows. “But somehow, after a couple years of us figuring it out, we found a way. And in the past nine years, we’ve built something amazing.”
Source: Read Full Article