They Broke Up, but Fate Had Other Plans

When Kavi Mannan Packiam first laid eyes on Stephanie Soledad Rodriguez at a birthday party for his childhood friend, Gautham Jothi, Mr. Packiam told Mr. Jothi he thought she was gorgeous.

Mr. Jothi told him to forget about it. She was Mr. Jothi’s colleague, and he feared it might make things messy for him at work. However, when Ms. Rodriguez expressed interest in Mr. Packiam, Mr. Jothi gave his blessing.

After the November 2019 birthday party at Le Bain, a nightclub in New York, Ms. Rodriguez made plans to go to Pho 87, a restaurant on Chrystie Street, with Mr. Jothi and his husband. When Mr. Packiam heard, he invited himself along. “Kavi didn’t even like pho,” Ms. Rodriguez said.

As soon as she got into a cab after dinner, Ms. Rodriguez texted Mr. Jothi to ask if Mr. Packiam was single. He was.

A week later, Ms. Rodriguez reached out to Mr. Packiam on Instagram. The couple’s first date was Dec. 6 at Chefs Club on Mulberry Street. It went so well that Ms. Rodriguez invited Mr. Packiam to her Upper East Side apartment the next day for a holiday party. On Feb. 1, 2020, they became boyfriend and girlfriend.

Six weeks later, the pandemic took hold. On March 15, Ms. Rodriguez headed to her mother’s home in Riverside, Ill. Five days later, Mr. Packiam retreated to his brother’s home in Delmar, N.Y. In late spring, the two returned to New York City. But in mid-August, Mr. Packiam was ready to move forward, and Ms. Rodriguez was not. They decided to break up. But fate kept bringing them together.

First, in mid-September, they locked eyes outside Mitchell’s Wine & Liquor Store on the Upper West Side but were uncertain of each other’s identity because they were wearing masks. “We immediately texted each other that we ran into each other’s doppelgänger,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “We ended up hanging out later that weekend.”

A few weeks later, the universe intervened again. Mr. Packiam was going to Breakneck Ridge Trail and Ms. Rodriguez was heading to Wilkens Fruit & Fir Farm in Yorktown, N.Y. “We ended up somehow sitting in the exact same train car at the same time,” Ms. Rodriguez said. Both were with mutual friends. Beyond a brief hello and laugh, they mostly caught glimpses of each other’s faces in the window before proceeding with their respective days.

A month later, Ms. Rodriguez flew to her family’s home in Chiapas, Mexico, to work remotely from her family compound for the remainder of the year.

She and Mr. Packiam texted while she was away. While they weren’t “formally together,” Mr. Packiam said, he accepted her invitation to visit her in late-December. He met her entire extended family on her mother’s side. “They treated me like family,” Mr. Packiam said.

Ms. Rodriguez said she fell in love with Mr. Packiam all over again during the visit. But, “we said we weren’t going to discuss getting back together until we flew back,” she said. On Dec. 29, they both returned to New York City. Two nights later, they celebrated the new year by getting back together.

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Ms. Rodriguez, 27, is a vice president in the strategic partner program at BlackRock. She holds a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Dayton in Ohio. She grew up in Riverside, Ill.

Mr. Packiam, 35, is a founder and managing director at Layer 7 Capital, a boutique investment bank. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stony Brook University. Mr. Packiam was raised in Southbury, Conn.

The couple was married on Jan. 27 at Bethesda Terrace in Central Park, the same place Mr. Packiam proposed. Mr. Packiam’s childhood friend, Arjun Krishnamoorthy, who was ordained by the Universal Life Church, officiated. A street performer under the terrace happened to play one of the couple’s favorite songs, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis, throughout the ceremony.

Six people were in attendance. “It was nice to have a small ceremony so we could just focus on being with each other,” Mr. Packiam said, ahead of a larger celebration the couple is hosting Feb. 1 through 4 in Mexico City, during which they’ll honor their Mexican and Indian cultures. Mr. Jothi will be giving the opening speech at the welcome party.

“Much of my relationship with Kavi has felt like I’m living a NYC-based rom-com,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “Only way better.”

Sumber: www.nytimes.com