A High School Romance Goes the Distance

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Although they attended the same high school in Rochester Hills, Mich., Julia Marie Gerard and Adam Edward Romund never crossed paths until their senior year. They were placed in the same personal finance class and became fast friends. The two began spending more time together outside of class, attempting to prepare for their A.P. calculus exam.

“What was supposed to be studying at the library was not studying at all,” Mr. Romund, 23, said. “It was basically a date. We did zero studying and just talked about random stuff.”

Their mutual crushes prompted Mr. Romund to ask Ms. Gerard to the prom in May 2018, where they shared their first kiss. The couple spent most of the following summer together, knowing they’d eventually be heading off to colleges in different states — Ms. Gerard to Ohio State University, and Mr. Romund to Michigan State University.

“He had become my best friend,” Ms. Gerard, also 23, said. “We really wanted to make it work. We couldn’t imagine losing the other person.”

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Maintaining the relationship came with challenges — “95 percent of our relationship existed over FaceTime,” Mr. Romund said. But they managed to see each other once or twice a semester. Mr. Romund endured a nine-hour bus ride to visit Ms. Gerard in Ohio. Ms. Gerard hitched a ride with a friend when she ventured to Michigan. During each reunion, the couple took a Polaroid selfie to mark the occasion.

The sustained separation that defined their relationship did have a silver lining.

“The nice thing that came out of long distance and FaceTiming all the time was that we communicated pretty well,” Mr. Romund said. Among the many topics of conversation was the subject of marriage.

“When we first started talking about getting married, we had said something like, ‘Oh, I want to wait awhile. I want to be older, like 27, 28,’” Ms. Gerard said. But the picture of their future together changed over the years, particularly as graduation approached. “We know we want to do this. Let’s just do this now,” Ms. Gerard said.

In 2021, Ms. Gerard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and moved back to Rochester Hills, where she works as a financial analyst at General Motors. Mr. Romund graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., about 40 miles from Ms. Gerard, to pursue a doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Michigan.

After they had both earned their undergraduate degrees, it was clear, based on their numerous conversations, that an engagement was imminent.

“She’s my best friend,” Mr. Romund said. “I feel like I’m the most ‘myself’ around her. She’s the first person I’d tell when anything crazy, weird or exciting happened.”

But Mr. Romund was determined to make the proposal a surprise.

“I took her out on a few fancy dates and didn’t pop the question,” he said.

Then, one morning in October 2022, while Ms. Gerard was visiting him in Ann Arbor, Mr. Romund suggested they grab a coffee and take a stroll along the Huron River, which ran by his apartment.

When they came upon a bridge, they walked across it, stopping to take their obligatory couples Polaroid. After the photo was captured, Mr. Romund got down on one knee and asked Ms. Gerard to marry him.

“We don’t like the super elaborate Jumbotron, baseball game proposals,” he said. “I thought finding a nice remote area with fall colors would be the best.”

Just as Mr. Romund hoped, Ms. Gerard was surprised, although she chuckles now at the hints she missed in hindsight.

“Walks were a normal thing for us,” she said. “But Adam getting up early was abnormal.”

The couple were married Dec. 22 at St. Mary of the Hills Roman Catholic Church in Rochester Hills, which Ms. Gerard had attended as a child. The Rev. James Mayworm performed the ceremony.

The 175 guests that gathered for the reception at the Station at Shepherd’s Hollow Golf Club in Clarkston, Mich., included a smattering of loved ones who were alumni of Michigan State, Ohio State and the University of Michigan. (Everyone got along just fine, the couple said.)

Mr. Romund and Ms. Gerard are excited about embarking on their careers and traveling together. Most of all, they are thrilled to finally share a home; they just bought a condo in Ann Arbor.

“No more long distance,” Mr. Romund said.

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