The year was 1997. Darby and Nick, strangers at the time, were both living in Seward Park, commuting downtown via Route 39 for work each morning. Their respective neighborhoods were positioned towards the beginning of the route and the bus was often near empty when it greeted them.

Yet, one day, Nick sat in the empty seat by Darby. He said good morning, opened his newspaper, and the trip continued in silence. He followed this same routine for another month and half.

“I thought he was kind of odd for sitting next to me each morning on a near empty bus, but never engaging in conversation,” said Darby. “But, he was nice enough.”

Until one day, he did.

“She was the only person who would look up at me and smile on the bus, and I thought it was attractive. I knew I wanted to get to know her,” said Nick.

An avid reader, Darby often spent her commute absorbed in a book. One day, Nick made his conversational move. He commented on the author of her book, Jim Harrison, of whom he was also a fan. He, too, was a book enthusiast.

Now that the ice was broken, Nick and Darby continued to chat every morning until a few weeks later, when he asked her to lunch.

Their first date was a summer picnic in Freeway Park by the Wash. State Convention Center. He brought crackers to share. She brought chocolate-covered strawberries.

“That’s when I knew I had a winner,” said Nick.

They’ve been together ever since.

They stopped taking the 39 together about six months later, when Nick moved. Now celebrating 19 years of marriage, they continue to remember those early days fondly.

“We received a toy bus with 39 painted on it as a wedding present,” said Darby. “It continues to remind us of the connection we made, first over our love for books, which then became much more.”

They continue to take transit as a family, now with their eight-year-old daughter, Iris, in tow. “Her favorite trip is anything on Route 40.”

Nick, Iris and Darby
Nick, Iris and Darby