When Madelyn Elizabeth Krebs and Tyler Christopher Fox met in August 2013, she was starting her second year at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a high school in Durham, and he was beginning his first.
The two went to lunch with some classmates at a local diner. By chance, they sat down next to each other, and when her spaghetti arrived, he was so transfixed by the sight of it that, without asking, he scooped up a forkful for himself.
“‘I just couldn’t help myself,’” she recalled him saying. “I was so shocked.”
Mr. Fox managed to talk his way past the transgression and into what quickly became a close friendship between the two, now both 26.
It would be several more years, however, before he had to grapple with the fact that his feelings about his friend had turned romantic. And that, as they say now, was complicated.
At Science and Math, as the school is colloquially called, a two-year residential public school for the state’s top juniors and seniors, Ms. Krebs and Mr. Fox were soon studying together and spending long weekends at each other’s family homes. They could often be found huddled on the floor of a random dormitory hallway (visiting each other’s rooms was against the rules).
After long days of togetherness, Mr. Fox said, “We would FaceTime until one of us fell asleep.”
The following year, she started college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and, given that he still had one more year of high school, their relationship hit a lull.
When he, too, started as an undergraduate at U.N.C. the following year, “We picked right back up as friends, as if no time had passed,” she said. “And I thought that was cool and a real testament to our friendship.”
She is now a third-year medical student at U.N.C., while he is a program coordinator at a global health incubator at Harvard University. Later this month, he is to begin as a project assistant on another Harvard initiative, which seeks to improve communication between obstetric patients and medical providers. In August, he is also to begin studying for a master’s degree in public health at Harvard.
At the beginning of Mr. Fox’s sophomore year of college, he became roommates with Ms. Krebs and two other women. The two, living in the same space — cooking together, watching the same television shows — became closer still.
“You just get to know somebody on a deeper level,” said Ms. Krebs, who will take her husband’s surname.
But Mr. Fox, who had started sensing he was not like most of his classmates when he was in the seventh grade and had come out as gay to his family and friends when he was 16, said he was struggling with his sexual identity. He didn’t feel like “gay” was really quite right for him after all.
So when he began to realize in the spring of 2017 that his feelings for Ms. Krebs were romantic, he settled on a more expansive term.
“I identify as bisexual, but it took me a while to reconcile that sexuality really is a spectrum,” he said. “It’s kind of a pendulum, but where I am now is where I am most comfortable.”
Ms. Krebs met his announcement that his feelings toward her had shifted with complex emotions of her own. “Our friendship was the best it had ever been and I trusted him more than any of the friends I had,” she said. “So it was a mix of surprise, shock and relief. It was like, ‘This could really work,’ because I felt the same way but was just too scared to say it.”
The two kept this new development to themselves for several months, but after a return trip in July 2017 to the diner where Mr. Fox had helped himself to Ms. Krebs’s lunch, they agreed to go public.
The two were married June 25 at the First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C. The Rev. Robert L. Galloway officiated and about 115 vaccinated guests were in attendance.
Mr. Fox said that both lost friends over their decision to be together. Their families, however, took the transition in stride.
“When we finally told our families, it was complete acceptance,” Ms. Krebs said. “They were not surprised at all, which was one of the most surprising things.”