If there’s one thing we can all agree on, politics aside, it’s that love transcends all. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, msnbc.com’s “Love is Love” series will profile a variety of couples and their stories in the week leading up to February 14 to show that “love is love,” no matter your race, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or gender identity.
Names: Laura Emerick Krepel & Scott Timothy Krepel
Been together for: 4 ½ years
How did you meet?
We met the old fashioned way. At least, that’s what we like to tell people, and then watch them guess. It’s a bit of a generation test. The older people cycle through answers such as "parents," "church," "work," etc, but oftentimes the younger people will immediately guess "online." We met on match.com
. I was immediately interested, because we shared similar interests. He was a nuclear engineer, and I had worked on nuclear power plants. The hook for me was when he shared that he’d been interviewed on my favorite show, “This American Life.” I was dying to meet him. We were e-mailing back and forth to plan our first date, when he told me he was deaf. My thought was, “Well I can’t be a jerk now and change my mind about going on a date with him.”
Scott: Laura is exaggerating a bit ... I told her that I was deaf at the same time that I told her about being interviewed on "This American Life." It was somewhat inevitable because it is a radio show and I knew that she would know which episode it was (it had been aired only about two months before we met). So I suppose that means that I had plenty of other qualities to interest her that were unrelated to a chance appearance on a radio show. At least, I hope so. Still, I will confess to not disclosing that fact up front, in part because I wasn't looking for someone who was looking specifically for a deaf person to date. We clicked pretty well through a series of e-mail exchanges, and set up a meeting time. It was an open-ended, casual meeting that ended up taking most of the afternoon. After that, Laura flew to Canada to interview for a job. Fortunately, she stayed in the U.S. and the rest became history.
Laura, when you first met, did you know sign language, or did you start learning then? How did this affect your relationship?
Laura: On our first date, we communicated through a spiral bound notebook passed back and forth, each writing short or long passages. That’s how Scott primarily communicates with non-signers in person. He started teaching me the alphabet on day one. I admit I wasn’t a very good student, but he was persistent.
Scott vocalizes or speaks at the same time he’s signing. He has a very thick accent. By our second date, I was able to listen to what he was saying. It’s like going to a Shakespeare play; at first the Old English is indecipherable, but soon enough your ear and brain get tuned to the sounds of that language. To this day, I still primarily listen to Scott’s speech, and struggle if I can’t hear him and must rely only on his signing.
While it’s easy for me to understand Scott, it’s a little harder for me to sign back and communicate to Scott. Sign language is my second language and it’s also often slower for me than spoken English. I think this has helped our relationship – it’s easier for me to listen to my partner than it is for me to speak.