In 2005, when a mutual friend of Kathryn Anne Kenworth and Michael Arend Rozendal tried to set them up on a blind date, Ms. Kenworth demurred. “The stakes on a blind date are too high, and I didn’t want my friend to be bummed out when it didn’t work,” she said.
Some months later, the same friend — not to be thwarted — brought Mr. Rozendal to a show at Ms. Kenworth’s art studio at the Headlands Center for the Arts outside of Sausalito, Calif. Mr. Rozendal was impressed and intrigued by Ms. Kenworth’s quirky anti-consumerist drawings and cardboard sculptures.
“Kathryn was so fully herself and immersed in her work,” Mr. Rozendal said. Unaware that Ms. Kenworth had a boyfriend in attendance, Mr. Rozendal asked if he could read her palm. “I’ll admit to it,” Mr. Rozendal said. “It was a clever way to hold her hand.” He learned palmistry from his mother while growing up in Canyon, Texas.
As he held her hand, Ms. Kenworth, now 55, felt a strong current of connection. When the show ended, Mr. Rozendal, 50, suggested they walk to the nearby beach. So Ms. Kenworth left her beau behind. At the water’s edge, the two talked for hours before they shared a first kiss.
Within weeks, a romance bloomed — and yet Mr. Rozendal was hesitant to pursue a serious relationship. For starters, he lived several hours north of Oakland — where Ms. Kenworth then lived — and he was deeply mired in writing his dissertation.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Rozendal attended Stanford for a master’s in English. When he met Ms. Kenworth, he was working on his Ph.D. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is now an associate professor of rhetoric and language at the University of San Francisco.
Ms. Kenworth, who grew up in Los Angeles, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in art history and studio arts from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Mills College in Oakland. She was an artist-in-residence at MacDowell, the artist retreat in Peterborough, N.H., received a Pollock-Krasner award and has been supported by the Leon Levy Foundation.
Despite his reluctance, Mr. Rozendal was smitten, seeing that their paths converged beautifully. “My life felt so expansive with Kathryn in it,” he said, “Everyday life was so much better with her.” Two years later, in 2008, the couple moved in together in Oakland.
Their shared path took a detour later that year, when Mr. Rozendal left for a yearlong Fulbright fellowship in Bavaria, Germany, and Ms. Kenworth decamped to Europe, traveling and contributing to various art and theater projects in France.
They returned in 2009 with their relationship fully cemented. Yet over the next few years, neither felt inclined to marry. They were raised by divorced parents, and both felt the “baggage of the institution,” Mr. Rozendal said. They traveled, grew their careers and joined a masters swim team and began competing in swim meets.
In 2019, Mr. Rozendal realized he felt something that called for a celebration. “I just felt so very lucky,” he said. While on a getaway to Calistoga, Calif., he presented a ring to Ms. Kenworth. She asked Mr. Rozendal if he was joking.
“No,” he said.
“Really — are you kidding?” she asked again.
Luckily for them, her third response was “Yes!”
“It didn’t seem like it would happen, or even needed to happen,” Ms. Kenworth said. “But Michael is so easy to love.”
On Oct. 7, the couple married in front of 85 guests at Willow Camp, a retreat center at Stinson Beach, Calif., just a few miles from where they first met. Scott Oldenburg, the friend who had tried to engineer their match nearly 20 years ago, officiated. He was ordained by the Universal Life Church for the event.
Throughout the unseasonably hot weekend, the couple and their guests swam in the ocean, boogie-boarded and enjoyed the beach. Ms. Kenworth, reluctant to leave the waves, even attended her rehearsal in a wet suit.
In both of their vows, they referenced Mr. Rozendal’s palm reading. “Who knew when I read your palm almost 18 years ago that the future I saw there was our future together,” Mr. Rozendal said. “That relationship line I saw was our relationship.” Because of a recent swimming collision, Mr. Rozendal’s left ring finger was swollen so badly that Ms. Kenworth had to put the gold band on his pinkie.
“When we met, Michael took my hand and made me feel like the most extraordinary person in the room,” Ms. Kenworth said in her vows. “And that’s still true.”