On a Friday afternoon in May 2012, Jeff Kearns was heading home to Capitol Hill on the X2 bus that meanders east by way of H Street NW. Jessica Meyers got on at the next stop. Even better, she plopped down right next to him.
Jessica and a friend were on their way to the restaurant Toki Underground that night and, upon overhearing them discuss their new career moves, including Jessica’s reporting job at Politico.com, Jeff decided to turn around and offer his congratulations.
“It was more like turning around to congratulate her friend, but then Jessica and I got to talking,” remembers Jeff, a Bloomberg reporter on the Federal Reserve beat. “That’s when we learned that we had both gone to Berkeley and that we had both worked at the Dallas Morning News. We had all these connections.”
In true D.C. fashion, they swapped business cards before Jessica hopped off at H and Third Street NE. The following Tuesday, Jeff made a life-altering pitch.
“He told me that we should grab a ‘swift one,’ which meant a quick drink. I guess you could say I gave him credit for creative language there,” recalls Jessica, a technology reporter at Politico and a Bethesda native.
They decided to go to Lincoln on Vermont Avenue NW for their first date that Friday, and with the bar jam-packed, they moseyed over to a table, where they ended up talking for more than three hours about everything from their Berkeley days and who they still kept in touch with at the Morning News to how they were navigating their latest newsrooms and the District.
“I remember thinking how genuine he was, and I remember I was so impressed by that. He was one of the few people who really listened,” Jessica says. “He had this curiosity about him, and he was really well-spoken. He was someone I could learn from and that made me curious and something that’s always kept me interested.”
At the end of their first date, just as he was waving goodbye, Jeff turned to Jessica and said that he “actually had a good time.” The pair decided to take advantage of one another’s newness to the city with sightseeing dates to the Smithsonian and self-led walking tours through many of the District’s neighborhoods. It’s a time that Jeff says was like “getting to know someone you will eventually love while also getting to know a town you will eventually love.”
Within their first six months of dating, Jeff received her parent’s elusive stamp of approval. “He was seriously the first boyfriend in my life who was able to get that,” Jessica says with a laugh. “But really, it was a sense of always being comfortable. I remember reading the paper and eating a bagel in the morning and glancing over at him sitting there, and feeling like it was just right.”
“After a couple of months, I was telling my friends that this is it and this is her and now my main concern is not screwing it up,” Jeff says. “It was quite a scary, foreign feeling to feel this for someone, but I embraced it. I didn’t feel like I needed to run from anything.”
By the end of 2012, Jeff was looking for rings, and, as fate would have it, there was a trip to Europe already in the works. They were due to be in Paris in February for a friend’s wedding and, really, how could Jeff resist? He did have reservations about how schmaltzy that set-up would seem, though.
“I just thought proposing on Valentine’s Day in Paris would have caused the world to explode,” he says.
So, on the day after Valentine’s Day, Jess and Jeff found themselves sitting on a ledge looking out over Paris across the Seine to the Eiffel Tower, and right there, Jeff proposed.
“I was shocked. I usually know when he’s thinking of something, and I didn’t know how to respond because I had this notion that we had to be living together,” Jessica says. “But then I realized that I had made up these preconceived notions, and really I just wanted to be with him.”
Once they were back in the District, they moved into an Atlas District apartment together and began their year-plus engagement, which included planning their nuptials and a brush with tragedy. Jessica ran the Boston Marathon last year but was far from the bombings just before the finish line. She then became Politico’s reporter on the ground for the next few days, covering all developments during that massive investigation.
This April, she ran the marathon again with Jeff at the 21-mile mark holding two signs: one that read “Go Jess!” and another that read “Go wife!”
On May 24, Jessica Meyers, 33, married Jeff Kearns, 40, in a Mennonite-Catholic ceremony at Dumbarton House, where an editor friend officiated for the two reporters. There were nods to the profession throughout, with a typewriter guest book and teeny journals — with the couple’s names inscribed on them — from Etsy for their 100 guests. The couple wanted to make the wedding as local as possible, so they served beer from Atlas Brew, Green Hat Distillery gin and wine from Schneider’s of Capitol Hill.
“Every day, I discover something that is more and more right between us,” Jess said after the wedding. “It helps that we understand late nights or hang-ups on deadline, but it’s also that we’re devoted to exploring.”
“I think we have a sense that we have a whole lot more to do in our lives. It’s about where we want to be,” Jeff chimed in. “We’re just beginning that process and it feels like the whole world’s open to you, but it’s not just your life — it’s our life.”