A Steady Stream of Road Trips Made Falling in Love Easy


Deborah Jennifer Yarchun was shocked when her friend swiped left on Benjamin Ernest Parr.

“Why would you do that?” she asked of her friend’s rejection of Mr. Parr on the League, a dating app for ambitious people.

She had been drawn to his photo. “He just looked so happy and kind,” Ms. Yarchun said.

A few weeks later, Ms. Yarchun came across Mr. Parr on the same app. She quickly swiped right.

On Feb. 3, 2018, Ms. Yarchun wore a red turtleneck sweater to their first date, at Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, a wine bar in SoHo. When she admitted she had been inspired by Mr. Parr’s 2015 book, “Captivology: The Science of Capturing People’s Attention” — a woman wearing red on a date is likely to prompt a man to sit closer, Mr. Parr had written — Mr. Parr’s eyes lit up.

The six-hour date flew by. So did their second date, when they walked into a Chelsea bar that happened to be hosting a burlesque show. On their third date — Valentine’s Day — Ms. Yarchun and Mr. Parr officially became a couple.

“I kept thinking, ‘What’s the catch?’” said Ms. Yarchun, 38. “It turned out there was no catch. He was the catch.”

They bonded over their shared love for writing. Ms. Yarchun’s 2019 play, “Drive,” won Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute Literary Award for Playwriting, and she has taught playwriting at the University of Iowa and Indiana University. Ms. Yarchun graduated from Drexel University with a bachelor’s degree in screenwriting and playwriting, and then earned her M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Iowa. She grew up in New Jersey and Germany before her family settled down in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Parr, 39, is a founder of a pair of artificial intelligence companies, Octane AI and Theory Forge Ventures, and writes a regular column for The Information. A native of Princeton, Ill., Mr. Parr graduated from Northwestern University with a double major in political science and science in human culture.

In November 2019, Ms. Yarchun moved into Mr. Parr’s apartment in NoLIta. The next day, the apartment directly above theirs caught on fire, leaving their home with extensive water damage. They spent the next few months bouncing around New York, Los Angeles and Fort Worth, Texas, before planning to return to Manhattan in March 2020.

Two days before their scheduled move to a subleased apartment, however, they learned the space had bed bugs. Mr. Parr and Ms. Yarchun, who had been staying in a nearby hotel, canceled the sublease and fled to an Airbnb in Woodstock, N.Y. It proved to be prescient: By the end of the month, New York, like much of the world, was in pandemic lockdown.

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

So Ms. Yarchun and Mr. Parr embraced their nomadic lifestyle, choosing a new location each month, booking an Airbnb and hitting the road.

“It was super clear how durable our relationship was, and how much we enjoyed spending time together,” Mr. Parr said.

They spent time on a farm in Vermont and in a cottage in the Poconos. They visited Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. They ate Thanksgiving dinner on a rock just over Arizona’s border with New Mexico, feasting on turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes from Cracker Barrel as the sun set.

“I was like, ‘How are we never having fights at all?’” Ms. Yarchun said. “If you can pack your life into a car together over and over and your relationship survives, you might as well get married.”

In May 2021, they moved into a permanent apartment in Culver City, Calif. Then, on March 4, 2023, Mr. Parr proposed to Ms. Yarchun. She said yes.

They were married on April 6 at the Cedar Bend in Austin in front of 91 guests. Christina Beleck, a Universal Life Church minister and the mother-in-law of Ms. Yarchun’s younger brother Daniel, officiated. They incorporated both Jewish and Thai traditions, a nod to Ms. Yarchun and Mr. Parr’s respective backgrounds. The ceremony was held under a huppah and they received two traditional Thai wedding blessings. During the cocktail hour, they served rugelach, a Jewish pastry, and Thai summer rolls.

Before guests dined on fajitas, all eyes turned to Ms. Yarchun and Mr. Parr for their first dance to “Good Day for Marrying You,” by Dave Barnes. The song had often come up randomly on Spotify as they traversed the country, their bond deepening with every mile.

“I’m not a natural dancer, but when it came on my body couldn’t help dancing to it,” Ms. Yarchun said. “I’d just be overcome with joy at the idea of marrying Ben.”



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