Two World Travelers Find Love Close to Home

Shana Caro, a 31-year-old scientist at Columbia University who grew up in White Plains, N.Y., has lived in Borneo, Costa Rica, Uganda, Kenya, Oxford, and a tiny town in the Netherlands called Wageningen.

Georgina Emerson (left), 34, the founder and director of Teach About Women, a nonprofit organization based in her native New York that educates and champions for gender equity, has lived in Lyon, France, Santiago, Chile, Paris, and walked across Northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago.

The many roads traveled by Ms. Caro and Ms. Emerson eventually led to each other, via the dating app Hinge, in February 2018.

“It’s like we traveled the world only to find each other at home, in New York,” said Ms. Caro, who is also a junior fellow at the Simons Foundation, where she studies the evolution of social behavior in birds. In September, she will also be starting a fellowship at the University of Texas in Austin.

Ms. Caro began dating Ms. Emerson a few weeks after they clicked into each other’s lives.

“She had this great big curiosity about the world,” Ms. Caro said. “Everything she did, she did with so much enthusiasm.”

Ms. Emerson returned the high praise. “I never met somebody who was so smart and so funny at the same time,” she said. “Shana could keep up with anything I said, and she talked just as fast as I talk.”

On their second date, at an indoor picnic with cheese from Zabar’s, the couple talked about their lives.

Ms. Emerson graduated from Dartmouth, from which she also received a master’s degree in comparative literature. She also received a master’s degree in history from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

Ms. Caro graduated from Harvard, and also received a doctorate of philosophy from Oxford University.

Then Ms. Caro stunned Ms. Emerson with a bit more travel news.

“I’m leaving for Kenya in three weeks,” she told her. “I’ll be gone for three months.”

Ms. Emerson recalled “being really sad, but trying to play it cool — I was panicking that she was going to be gone from my life forever.”

They spent the next weeks doing all things New York: the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the City Museum of New York, and jazz bars in the Village and Harlem.

“The day before she left for Kenya, we cooked pizza at my place,” Ms. Emerson said. “On her way out, I held the door for her, and tried to act much more dignified than I really am by telling her, ‘I don’t think we’re done yet.’”

They kept in touch. “Whenever I took a picture of a baby elephant or a giraffe or large turtles, I sent them to Georgina with funny captions attached,” Ms. Caro said.

On the day Ms. Caro returned from Kenya in June 2018, they met and shared ices on Ms. Caro’s stoop on 120th Street and Manhattan Avenue in Harlem.

But Ms. Emerson soon noticed that something seemed wrong with Ms. Caro, and when she felt Ms. Caro’s forehead, which was “hot to the touch,” as Ms. Emerson put it, Ms. Caro was soon on her way to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with both dengue fever and malaria, leaving her bedridden for weeks.

“I felt awkward because I really didn’t know her well enough to start making her soup and bringing it to her room,” Ms. Emerson said. “But her mom did a great job nursing her back to health.”

“Starting that July, when she was feeling better,” Ms. Emerson added, “we became inseparable.”

They were married Aug. 15 in Central Park in a ceremony with only 10 guests, including their parents, led by Madeleine Ballard, a friend of the couple who was ordained by American Marriage Ministries. (They had planned an elaborate masquerade reception for Aug. 29 at the Fire Museum in New York, but the coronavirus forced them to push that celebration to October 2021.)

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