By the time they checked out, his four-string rendition of the theme to “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” had captured their heart. Days later, the pair were holding hands down the streets of England, singing at the top of their lungs. But with only two weeks before Mx. Hoffer’s U.K. tour was over, neither was sure a relationship was possible. Then, on their last night together, came a reckoning.
“It was 3 a.m. and we were pretty wasted outside a bar called Glamorous Birmingham, and it was pouring rain, and water was streaming down our faces,” Mr. Abbott said. “We had talked at great length about how difficult it could be, starting something serious while living in different countries. But we decided right then to throw caution to the wind.” A long-distance love built on frequent flier miles and constant check-ins bloomed. The pandemic tried to halt it.
“Everything was great until the travel ban,” Mx. Hoffer said. From March until October 2020, the couple were stuck on separate continents. “We skyped, we FaceTimed, we texted incessantly,” Mr. Abbott said, until he was able to get clearance for a 90-day trip to the United States around Halloween. They had already talked about getting married.
“We had kind of a pre-engagement at the beginning of October where we were like, if we can figure it out, let’s get married,” Mx. Hoffer said. On Christmas Eve, the figuring got serious. “We said, OK, you have to fly home in about a month, and we don’t know what’s going to happen with the pandemic and when we’re going to be able to be together again, so let’s lay down some brickwork for our future.”
In handwritten vows on Jan. 6, each touched on the concept of commitment without ownership. “We both in different ways said, ‘We’re not one wriggling manifestation, we’re two individuals who will remain two individuals who choose to live their lives together,’” Mx. Hoffer said.