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City that Works or City of Love?

February 14, 2019

STAMFORD — It was a stormy night in February 2015 when Kathryn Morgan met Keenan Slusher for their first date at Barcelona Wine Bar on Summer Street.

Before that night, neither one had met. But they’d been chatting through Hinge, a dating app that connects people who have mutual friends.

Despite the uncertainty that comes with meeting an online date for the first time, the two were willing to brave the wind and rain.

“Neither of us wanted to go out, but we wanted to see each other,” Slusher said.

That night the two spent hours together and shared their first kiss. What followed was several weeks of dates in Stamford: the couple went to the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and warmed up with soup afterwards from Cafe Oo La La. They went to the now-defunct Tengda Asian Bistro for dinners, spent Friday nights at Cafe Silvium on Shippan Avenue, took yoga classes at Chelsea Piers and spent summers at the Beer Garden at Shippan Landing and West Beach.

“Stamford holds such a special place in our hearts, and being in this community has truly helped our relationship grow,” Morgan said.

They even took advantage of the outdoors located nearby, going on hikes in New York.

“We trusted each other enough to go on a five or six mile hike,” Slusher said.

Morgan, 30, moved from Rye, N.Y., to Stamford shortly after she and Slusher, 31, met. Over a year ago, the two moved near downtown Stamford together.

“In terms of Stamford and our relationship, we spent a lot of time here when we were first dating,” Morgan said. “We’ve just had a lot of really special adventures in our relationships that have all happened in Stamford. I think whether it’s celebrating birthdays or something exciting, we’ve been able to incorporate a lot of Stamford businesses into parts of our relationships.”

For Morgan and Slusher, Stamford continues to be the home of their love. For some others, the City That Works might no longer be home, but it always will be the place where their relationship blossomed.

That rings true for Michael Norris, 44, and Suma CM, 43. Now living in California, Norris was living in rural New Hampshire and working remotely with CM before they became a couple. The two decided to meet for a business lunch while Norris was in the New York area.

The lunch obviously went well.

“Six hours later, we went out for a romantic dinner,” Norris said.

He went back to New Hampshire and the couple dated long distance until he found a job in Stamford and moved to the area. In 2005, the two moved to a home on Mohegan Avenue and on Sept. 10 of that year, they were married on West Beach. Norris recalls borrowing $20 from a friend to pay the Justice of the Peace.

While the two moved to California in 2015 after 10 years in their Stamford house, Norris said they miss Stamford sometimes and aspects of the city like its biking and Lorca, an independent coffee shop on Bedford Street.

“We moved to California ... But still love the memory of living in Stamford together for ten years and starting our lives there,” Norris said. “We still make sure to visit friends once a year and in some ways still consider it home. ... It was our first home together. There were so many things about Stamford we took for granted ... there were so many little things we find ourselves missing.”

Jon and Betsy Henry’s story of love, with each other and the city, has gone on much longer. It was “just chemistry” that brought them together nearly five decades ago. The two knew each other growing up in Greenwich through their mothers. Betsy often saw Jon around town working various jobs.

“I knew him all my life,” she recalled.

It wasn’t until the two went to Norwalk Community College together that they really connected, and and fell in love. But despite attending school together in Norwalk and growing up in Greenwich, the two were drawn to Stamford where they moved after getting engaged in 1972.

“I liked Stamford better than Greenwich,” said Betsy, 65. “This was back in the early seventies. Stamford was so different. The rent was cheaper and Stamford had more to offer.”

To them, it still does. In December, the couple celebrated 44 years of marriage. For 41 of them, they’ve lived in the same house in Glenbrook, owned by Betsy’s grandmother.

erin.kayata@stamfordadvocate.com; (203) 964-2265; @erin_kayata

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