When a friend came to Walker Forehand’s apartment several years ago and asked about the beautiful redhead standing with him in a framed picture, he responded matter-of-factly: “That’s my soul mate.”
Then he added, “That’s the one who got away.”
He met Kristin Fisher in the summer of 2003 when they both arrived in Athens for a six-week study-abroad program. Forehand, a rising junior at the University of Virginia, walked into an orientation room to meet the 35 other students who were also on the trip. Thirty of them were women. “I’m like, ‘This is unbelievable. This is the greatest decision I’ve ever made,” he recalls.
Fisher, then a 20-year-old broadcast journalism major at Boston University, immediately stood out. She was vivacious, outgoing and gorgeous. And she noticed Forehand, too — “I knew it was gonna be trouble,” she says. But within days, most of the new friends she made confessed their own burgeoning crushes on Forehand. “Walker was the forbidden fruit,” she says.
So they became buddies, traveling with a group to various Greek islands and staying up late to talk and play drinking games. When she casually mentioned that she’d lived on an Alaskan glacier and that both of her parents were astronauts, he thought she was putting him on. In time he realized both statements were true — glacier life was part of a high school leadership program, and her mom and dad were emergency medical physicians who went into space as part of NASA’s shuttle program.
More intriguing was her sense of adventure — when they passed Mount Olympus on a bus trip, Fisher and Forehand ran to the front and asked to get off. After half-a-night’s sleep in a tiny hotel room, they woke at dawn and climbed to the top.
And when all their friends turned in early while visiting the island of Ios, the two stayed out at a club, dancing until the sun came up and sharing a first kiss that seemed a long time coming. But after three intense weeks together, it was time to say goodbye. “I literally cried almost the entire way home,” Fisher recalls. “I was devastated.”
There was no talk of trying to stay together, but even as he left to continue his travels around Europe, Forehand thought, “I’ll never find someone as perfect as Kristin is for me.”
The pair stayed in touch only sporadically, sending texts or e-mails a couple of times a year. They went on to other cities and other relationships, though Forehand found himself thinking of Fisher “constantly.” And as she began her television career, friends would occasionally send him clips of her news stories out of Grand Junction, Colo., or Little Rock.
As years went by it became apparent to Forehand, who works at a private equity firm in Washington, that his hunch was right. “I had never liked anybody even close to as much as I liked her,” he says. “We only spent a month together. But it was this month that was crystallized in my mind as the perfect month in my life.”
But by 2009 it was the distant past and he’d never let himself hope for a reunion. So when he logged onto Facebook in February and saw that Fisher had joined the Washington network, he was stunned. Her newest status update asked if she should get an apartment in Tenleytown or Dupont Circle, where he lived. “I had to read it 10 times,” Forehand says. “I was so excited.”
He texted Fisher, who hadn’t realized Forehand was living in the District. She’d been hired by WUSA and would be in town within a few weeks. He turned to a friend at work, he recalls, and said, “ ‘The One’ is moving back here. I’m not blowing this. This is the only chance I’ll ever have to make her mine.”
They arranged to meet for drinks in March, but as Fisher walked to the bar, she had no expectations for a rekindled romance. After watching her parents split up, she was skeptical about love and focused intently on her career. Besides, she thought, “so much time had passed, there’s no way he’s still interested in me.”
But when she saw him standing on the sidewalk, “I felt like I was 19 again. It was like nothing had changed,” she says. “I was just glowing. I could not believe it.”
“It was the exact same,” Forehand agrees. “And as I was sitting there having drinks with her, I totally fell madly in love with her.” He knew he wanted to be with Fisher, but also that he, “needed to be cool here.”
He quickly ended a relationship with a woman he’d been dating and offered to show Fisher around town. And after a couple of weeks, she kissed him. “It was just kind of explosive,” she says. “It had just kind of been building up for six years.”
Fisher liked the idea of marriage but “didn’t think it was in the cards for me now,” yet she found herself daydreaming about proposals and wedding dresses within weeks. “I would call my girlfriends and be, like, ‘What the hell is going on? What is happening?’ ” she says.
And though she worked a morning shift and had to wake up at 2 every day — which necessitated the presence of three alarm clocks, the last of which sat on top of a coffee maker — she and Forehand began spending as much time together as possible.
The sense of fun and mutual attraction they’d known before still existed, but without an end date in sight, their relationship deepened. “What I didn’t know about her was that she was just so incredibly loving,” says Forehand, now 27. “Not everyone shows you affection in the way that you need it to be shown. And we were perfect for each other in that way.”
Last July, the day before Fisher’s 27th birthday, Forehand arranged to have her sent out on a fake news assignment to her favorite place in Washington, the U.S. Botanical Garden. (The ruse was that a rare orchid was in danger of being killed by a mysterious fungus.) When she walked into the Hawaii Room, he proposed.
On April 2, they were married at the Church of the Holy City near Logan Circle before a reception at the Hay-Adams.
“I really feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and I don’t say that lightly,” Forehand said before the wedding. “It’s better to overachieve in life than underachieve and I truly feel like I’m overachieving, which is a good thing — that’s the way that you want to feel when you’re getting married to someone.”