In January 2002, Maria was working as a producer in San Francisco on a short film called Raised By Drag Queens. “At our wrap party, a group of us talked about going 80s dancing,” she remembers. She thought that one of the assistants, Erin, was cute, so she asked her to join them as her date. “Erin invited a bunch of friends and housemates along, too,” she says. “It was a gentle way to say she wasn’t interested.”
Among Erin’s friends was Sarah, who was working as an actor. “I went to college with Erin near San Francisco, but I hadn’t long moved back to the area and wanted to get to know new people,” she says.
As soon as Maria and Sarah met, they felt a connection. “She was cute and funny,” says Maria. “We were at the bar talking about setting up our own singles’ club. At first I thought she was straight, but when she mentioned she was bisexual I thought there might be a chance.” Sarah also enjoyed Maria’s company. “She was smart and relaxed. We hadn’t put on a date, so we could get to know each other with no pressure.”
After the 80s night they went across the street for donuts with Erin, before being invited to an afterparty in a different part of San Francisco. “It turned out to be the home of Larry Page from Google,” says Maria. “Everyone was blown away by this house.” Soon, Sarah started dancing with another friend of Erin’s. Not wanting to miss her chance, Maria joined Sarah on the balcony while she was taking a rest. “I put my arms around her and she did the same to me,” she says.
They went inside to check out the “enormous sound system” and shared their first kiss. “I went into the kitchen to check Erin was really OK with it – but she was so happy for us,” says Sarah.
They set up a date at a local bar the following week, where Maria asked Sarah to be her girlfriend. “I said no because it was too fast,” says Sarah. “I wanted to carry on hanging out, but I was enjoying being single and didn’t want to rush things.” Over the next few weeks, they spent lots of time together. “One day, I said something and Maria misheard and thought I said: ‘I love you,’ so she said: ‘I love you, too,’” says Sarah. The misunderstanding made Sarah realizes the strength of her own feelings. By the end of February, they had become a couple.
In 2007, Maria supported Sarah as she retrained as a psychotherapist. The same year, they got engaged on a trip to New Orleans. “Maria took me to this car-hire place, but it turned out to be a dealership. The cab driver waited outside because he thought we’d gone to the wrong place. It turns out she’d bought me a car and told me we were driving back to San Francisco,” says Sarah. “In the glove compartment there was a ring.” They married near Napa Valley, California, in 2008 and moved into their shared home with Dakota, Maria’s daughter from a previous relationship. In 2012, Sarah gave birth to a daughter, Cleo. They bought a house in 2019 and live there with Cleo. “We were also adopted by a feral cat,” says Sarah. “It comes into our back yard all the time and has become like our pet.”
Sarah appreciates her partner’s sense of humor. “She’s also extremely kind, with good morals and a sense of social justice. She always wants to help people who need it, and we have great conversations. I love the fact we’re both up for anything, too.”
Maria enjoys all their adventures. “We’ve traveled to so many places off the beaten track. She always makes me laugh,” she says. “I have some past traumas and she really understands what that means and supports me. We can say anything to each other.”
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