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A Walk Around the Lake During the Pandemic Was Poetry to Their Ears

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A Walk Around the Lake During the Pandemic Was Poetry to Their Ears

Aria Aber and Noah Robert Warren, both poets and published authors, were familiar with each other’s work and had connected on social media long before they met in person.

Their first substantive interaction was virtual. In late 2020, Mr. Warren had invited Ms. Aber, a writing fellow at Stanford, to share her work for a poetry reading series that he organized at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in English.

They met in person a few months later, in February 2021, when Mr. Warren asked Ms. Aber if she wanted to take a casual walk around Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif., where they both lived.

Ms. Aber did not regard the outing as a date, just a way for two peers to bond and alleviate pandemic boredom. Yet, she immediately felt something for Mr. Warren, she said. The pair spent a couple hours together at the lake and capped the outing by reading each other works by Polish poets.

A few days later, Mr. Warren asked Ms. Aber to dinner. They both recounted the protracted silence that followed before she agreed.

“I felt like I was facing a really big decision intuitively,” said Ms. Aber, 32. “Like I already knew something life-changing would occur if I said yes to the dinner date.”

Ultimately, she did say yes to dinner. Their relationship progressed rapidly, bolstered in part by the fact that they shared many mutual friends and acquaintances.

“It’s a small literary world and it immediately felt like we blended families,” Ms. Aber said.

Ms. Aber, who has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Goldsmiths college, University of London, and an M.F.A. in poetry from N.Y.U., is a Ph.D. student in English and creative writing at the University of Southern California. Mr. Warren has a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale and is finishing a Ph.D. at Berkeley. He also teaches literature and creative writing at Claremont McKenna College.

The summer of 2021 was a whirlwind of travel and introductions to friends and family members. The experiences offered Mr. Warren, 33, stark clarity on his feelings for Ms. Aber.

“I knew I wanted to marry Aria or try my luck at least,” he said, adding: “We knew and loved the same people. We had silly conversations for hours and had serious conversation. We could read each other’s work and critique it with meaning. Everything was absolutely effortless.”

The couple booked a trip to Paris in March 2022, where Mr. Warren planned to propose. A family member alerted Ms. Aber to his possible intentions. “I remember before the trip, my sister saying, ‘You should get a manicure just in case because you’re going to Paris together,’” Ms. Aber said.

But she was not expecting a proposal. The pair had only been dating for a year. And Paris does not evoke romantic feelings for her the way it does for many others. Her family are refugees from Afghanistan who scattered across Europe. Ms. Aber, who was raised in Germany, said her experiences traveling through European cities were often more fraught than pleasant.

She did have one beautiful memory of Paris. On her 18th birthday, Ms. Aber and her friends were walking through Montmartre at night, carrying a bright pink cake. A large group of Spanish tourists saw them and serenaded Ms. Aber with a boisterous rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

It was near this same spot, in the shadow of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, that Mr. Warren proposed, creating another cherished Parisian memory. The ring, in addition to a diamond, contains a sapphire, concealed on the underside of the band.

“My mom had to pawn her engagement ring when I was young,” Ms. Aber said. “It had a diamond and a sapphire on it. I remember as a child that I loved touching that ring in her jewelry box. It was my favorite thing.”

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

The couple, who now live in Los Angeles, were married Aug. 5 at Dragonline Studios in Jamestown, R.I., near where Mr. Warren’s parents reside. Louise Glück, a close friend of the couple, officiated; she was ordained by American Marriage Ministries for the event.

The weekend celebration, which Ms. Aber described as a “beautiful blur” included 150 guests. It featured poetry readings and an abbreviated version of the Persian custom Sofreh Aghd, which included a ritual where the couple was covered by a shawl and regarded each other in a mirror for the first time as husband and wife.

“It used to be one of my favorite parts of Afghan weddings I went to as a child,” Ms. Aber said. “It just seemed so secretive and mystical.”

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