Love, Factually

valentine's dayKelly & Jonathan Best enjoy some down time with their little ones. Photos by Jess Benjamin.

Valentine’s Day is arguably the most political holiday we celebrate all year. If you’re in a couple, you might be faced with the societal expectation of the day: the card, the gift, the dinner reservations. If you’re uncoupled, you’re all but forced to weigh in on the holiday, like a pundit trying to find new takes on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

But when you peel away the trappings, Valentine’s Day really is a time to celebrate the people you care about. To that end, we searched Somerville for some good ol’ love stories. From a pair of cyclists who got together just over a year ago to a couple who will celebrate their 60th anniversary in 2016, these lovebirds get right to the heart of what this holiday is all about.

kelly and jonathan best

Kelly & Jonathan Best
Married since 2009

With their hands full of three energetic little ones, Kelly Best asks her husband Jonathan, “Do you remember when we used to get the Sunday paper?” Mutual friends introduced the good- natured couple in 2002. They bought their Winter Hill house five years later and spent years travelling together. They were married in 2009, and in 2010, they started their family.

Kelly is a teacher in the Boston Public School District, and Jonathan paused his architectural design practice to take care of the family’s daily needs for the last few years. When his daughters were younger, he was active in the Somerville Family Network and facilitated the “Dads’ Playgroup,” which is mostly full-time fathers and their children. “Now that we have kids, we look forward to the Somerville festivals—to apple picking and pumpkins. Some of that fun stuff we haven’t done in years, now we get to do with the kids,” says Jonathan.

A smile stretches across his face as he recalls: “We used to get home from work, have a glass of wine, make dinner, chat about our day for as long as we wanted. Now, we still have the routine of eating dinner together, but … we don’t get to talk much to each other ‘til well after the kids go to bed.”

“We got to really enjoy our time together before our kids came, now we’re really enjoying this,” Kelly says, as her children play in their living room. “It won’t last forever, so we’re just enjoying what it is.”

Michael Mulcahy

From left to right: Michael Mulcahy, Joey, and Daniel Lucas

Michael Mulcahy & Daniel Lucas
Together since 2010

If it’s your relationship, you get to make the rules. Just ask Michael Mulcahy and partner Daniel Lucas, who met at a party one October. They’re not sure of the exact date, so they chose Halloween as their adopted anniversary. “More people should pick an anniversary— then they wouldn’t forget!” says Daniel, a massage therapist at Body Mechanics in Allston.

That laid-back type of love radiates throughout their cozy Arlington home, where they live with their dog, Joey, and three cats. Both Michael and Daniel enjoy the outdoors, but in slightly different ways: Michael fishes, Daniel gardens. They both like cooking, but share an understanding that Daniel is a (much) better chef. They agree that children are great—“as long as they’re 75 yards away.” The two are firm believers in staying true to yourself, in being honest—and in compromise. “We almost went to a movie the other night!” jokes Michael. “We were a block away,” laughs Daniel, before Michael, a politics junkie, realized the Republican debate was on that night.

Michael is a lieutenant with the Somerville Police Department, where he’s served for 29 years. He made history in 1999 when he became the city’s first openly gay officer. “It was kind of gradual … I was done hiding,” he explains of his decision to come out. “It was a very difficult thing to do, but the most empowering day of my life.”

“I always say falling in love is like stepping in dog shit. Nobody plans on stepping in dog shit, but it happens!” Michael adds. “We have this chemistry that connects on every level. I miss him as soon as I leave him.

Barbara and Edward Pitts get cozy in their Somerville home.

Barbara and Edward Pitts get cozy in their Somerville home.

Barbara & Edward Pitts
Married since 1956

Barbara and Edward Pitts have been married for 59 years. Their romance began at the Wonder Donut Shop in Inman Square, where they were both regulars. Edward would stop in before going out dancing; Barbara often hung out there with her friends having soda. “Finally, after about a year, he asked me out,” Barbara says.

The couple was married a year later, and in the following decades, they raised six children in Somerville. Now, they have seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, all of whom live in the area. Edward’s work as a millwright took him to Puerto Rico, and Barbara, who loves to travel, joined him there for a time. “Every chance she gets she says, ‘We gotta go!’” Edward chuckles. “He still asks me every day, ‘Where are we going today?’ or, ‘Anywhere you want to go?’” Barbara chimes in. “He’s right there for me.”

Mayor Curtatone is popular with this couple, particularly because of the funding to the Somerville Senior Center, an active social hub not only for meeting pleasant folks and weekly activities but also for seasonal trips. “We went down to Amish country in Pennsylvania, and Elvis’s house in Tennessee. Everybody loved it. We couldn’t have done it without that program for seniors,” says Barbara.

Now that their international travel is winding down, this couple keeps it local: Edward makes daily trips to Dunkin Donuts in Magoun Square for coffee, and Barbara goes bowling on Thursdays. “He drives me, and waits in the car,” Barbara says. “My friends say he’s my lucky charm—they say, ‘You’re winning because he’s right there.'”

marie-france hivert

Dylan Callahan & Marie-France Hivert on one of their many “bike dates.”

Marie-France Hivert & Dylan Callahan
Together since November, 2014

Strong roots can sprout fast. Marie-France Hivert is known to her friends as “Flash” because of her quick feet in competitive ultimate Frisbee, running and dancing—not to mention her professional precision as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and physician at MGH. The spark in her eye is matched by her partner Dylan Callahan, a quiet and steady IT Director, also an avid runner, musician and sailor. Auspicious timing brought them together through a wide network of common friends at just the right moment for them to connect. Though their paths could have crossed any number of times before they actually met, they agree they may not have been ready for the relationship that has sprouted up in the last year.

From their first date—ice skating in Kendall Square—Flash and Dylan soon devised their own romantic adventure: “bike dates.” On each bike date, they would choose a destination in the Boston area, cycle there, have a nice dinner and drinks, then meander home, taking turns leading and finding new routes. But about eight months into their relationship, the sweetness of city cycling took a traumatic turn.

Cycling in downtown Boston, Flash was hit by a vehicle and left with a broken shoulder and collarbone as well as a slew of broken ribs and an injured lung. While she was consulting with her doctors about her condition, Dylan communicated with her family and friends and stayed with her constantly. “Even before the accident, we were strong,” Flash says, “but the accident confirmed that strength that Dylan has, that we have together, to go through hard stuff together.” Dylan adds gently, “But she was also caring for the people around her. When someone’s hurt, the way they deal with getting better affects the people around them, whether they know it or not. It’s not just a one-way street.”

Flash and Dylan look forward to getting back to their running and bike dates soon. “Wearing lots of bright visuals,” they agree.

Patricia Wild

Patricia Wild & David Myers, who have a social calendar that rivals that of many Somerville twenty-somethings.

Patricia Wild & David Myers
Married since 1994

David Myers and Patricia Wild, married 21 years, still seem radiantly tickled by each other’s company. They met at the Friends Meeting at Cambridge, a Quaker gathering. in 1991, when they were both at the end of failing marriages and had a handful of children between them. “When he asked me out on a date for the first time,” Patricia recounts, “David said, ‘I’d like to take you out, by yourself or with your children. Which would you prefer?’ That got me.”

At various times, each of David and Patricia’s adult children have returned to live in their Somerville home for a year or two. Now, they have five grandchildren, including one for whom David and Patricia care every week. “Because we never raised children together, we’ve had this opportunity to discover our parenting styles together with our granddaughter. It’s been a real sweetness,” say Patricia. “We were there the day she was born. There’s no such thing as a ‘step-grandchild.’”

Although the couple has a social calendar that could rival most Somerville twenty-somethings, Patricia and David calmly point out, “We’re in our 70s, so an event in our relationship is thinking and talking about the end of our lives, how we want to spend it, what we want to leave, or not leave. We don’t want to leave an attic full of our kids’ third grade papers, for instance.” What they are building is a legacy of community-minded care, from actively participating in Prison Ministry at FMC together to organizing block parties on their street. Good neighbors, sweet love.

 This story originally appeared in the January/February edition of Scout Somerville, which is available for free at more than 100 locations around the city.