It was February 1987 and Tiffany was 23. She'd got married two years previously. Now her marriage was on the rocks and divorce seemed imminent. Tiffany was training to become a police officer, but her heart wasn't in it.
Tiffany, who is trans, had also yet to come out. For much of her life up to that point, she had tried to quash her identity.
Tiffany wasn't sure where she was heading next. For now, she was simply focused on lining up at Sacramento Bus Station to catch the Greyhound bus back home to San Francisco.
Travelers were starting to deposit their bags in the bus hold. Tiffany wasn't paying attention, but then a young woman further up the line reached over to hand Tiffany a luggage tag.
"You're going to need one of these to check your bag in," said the stranger, smiling.
"Oh thanks," said Tiffany, breaking out of her reverie.
The woman with the extra luggage tag was Bridgette. Then 18, she was living and working in San Francisco, and on her way back there after a weekend visiting her parents in Sacramento.
Bridgette and Tiffany started chatting -- first about the luggage tags, then about the journey ahead.
The person in between them, sensing this conversation wasn't going to come to an end anytime soon, asked if they'd like to switch places so they could stand together. Why not, figured Tiffany and Bridgette, and they switched.
"We were just talking back and forth. And we were waiting for a long time in that line," Bridgette, who has asked only to be referred to by her first name for personal reasons, tells CNN Travel.
The two were enjoying each other's company. When they eventually boarded the bus, sitting together seemed the obvious next step.
Journeying from Sacramento to San Francisco by car usually takes around an hour and a half. But with the Greyhound's multiple stops, and the inevitable traffic, the bus was on the road for several hours.
Tiffany and Bridgette talked the whole way.
Tiffany describes the interaction as one of "those conversations where you meet a stranger and you spend several hours with the stranger as if you've known them your whole life -- and you also assume you're never going to see them again, so your defenses are down."
The two talked about everything, but also kept some things private. Tiffany didn't mention she was still married. Bridgette added a few years to her age, telling Tiffany she was 21.
A couple of hours into the journey, a woman sat across from the pair, charmed by their obvious connection, cut in with a question:
"How long have you two been together?" she asked.
|Not long after their first meeting, |
Tiffany and Bridgette were inseparable.
"We just started playing off each other like we had been together since kindergarten," recalls Tiffany. "I guess we just had that chemistry."
But the unconditional, supportive relationship she had with Bridgette allowed her to reevaluate. Together, Tiffany and Bridgette started looking into how Tiffany could be herself.
"If you don't figure out your gender identity and your issues in a healthy way and start to build a healthy foundation, then it's always going to be a struggle," says Tiffany now.
Today, whenever they see a Greyhound bus on the road, the two think of their serendipitous meeting. They've not been on a Greyhound together since, but they enjoy road trips together from time to time.
Tiffany and Bridgette say they're both proud of where they are today, and how they've grown together over their 35 year relationship.
"Anything is possible, you just have to believe you can make things work," says Bridgette.
"Don't be afraid to take chances," agrees Tiffany. "I think we all meet each other for a reason, things happen for a reason. And we may not understand what the reason is, but be open to them. And don't let fear hold you back."
I have only given you excerpts of this story. Do read the whole beautiful love story at CNN Travel