30 years later, teen sweethearts find each other again to live life happily ever after
JAMES RUSSELL | Staff Writer
A lot can happen in 30 years. Coming full circle is not ordinarily among them. But that’s what happened for Sharon and Marcel Herrera, who found each other again 30 years after they first met in San Angelo.
Marcel, whose maiden name is Enriquez, first caught a glance of Sharon Herrera when Sharon pulled up in front of the house where Marcel was babysitting. She was intrigued, but Sharon was older and seemingly out of reach.
“I was in high school and Sharon was in her first year of college,” said Marcel, who took her wife’s name. “She was a year older than me.”
But the age difference didn’t matter to Sharon. Not too long after they first exchanged glances, Sharon asked Marcel on a date.
Back then, in the mid-1980s, the cool kids hung out at Lake Nasworthy in San Angelo. “The day [Sharon] asked me there was the same day her mom bought her a Trans Am.
She asked me to go on a ride.”
For six months, they were inseparable, with Sharon picking Marcel up from high school for lunch.
“It was young love,” Marcel said.
“She was my first kiss and first love,” Sharon added.
Then tragedy struck the Herrera household. When Sharon was 20 years old, her mother died.
“My life was planned until I was 20, when my mother died. That’s when and why I joined the Air Force. Uncle Sam saved me,” Sharon said. “I loved fighting for my country.”
Even though she served in the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the policy barring lesbian and gay servicemembers from serving openly, Sharon received an honorable discharge and still speaks proudly of her time in the Air Force.
Sharon could have returned to San Angelo when she left the military; she could have reunited with Marcel sooner. But a car accident brought Sharon to Fort Worth. While she chooses not to talk about the details, she calls the accident “fate.”
“A force stronger than myself moved me here,” Sharon said. “Then I found myself at the doors of the Fort Worth Independent School District. That’s how I live life.”
Sharon still works for the Fort Worth school district, and serves as president of LGBTQSaves, a LGBT youth advocacy group she helped found.
Marcel, meanwhile, was still in San Angelo, working in the healthcare field. The two saw each other occasionally, when Sharon visited San Angelo. But they never spoke.
“We were in relationships and wanted to respect those boundaries,” Marcel explained, admitting though, “There were maybe stolen glances.”
That ended though in 2012, when Sharon went home for her 30-year high school reunion.
“It was Cinco de Mayo. I was just at the bar that night,” Marcel said. “It was the Hispanic bar where you went to have fun. We saw one another. She bought me a drink and asked me to dance. We just talked and caught up that night.”
Sharon didn’t look different, Marcel said, but she sounded different, more mature: “She needed to mature. She needed to spread [her] wings and be in other relationships,”
Marcel said, then added, “She changed. [She] was talkative.”
“Now you can’t shut me up!” Sharon interjected. “I was nothing like I am now.”
For Sharon, the years apart fell away, and “I saw the person I fell in love with the first time,” she said. “I knew I hurt her when I ran away because I loved her. I never felt a love like that. I never felt the power of love.”
But Sharon’s friends were not so confident in their renewed connected. As Marcel explained it, “Her friends cock blocked me.”
Still, the two women really hit it off, and Sharon’s friends eventually approved, too. Between May 2012 and January 2013, they traveled back and forth every weekend between Fort Worth and San Angelo to see one another.
“Sundays were horrible because we knew we’d be going back home,” Marcel said.
But after Marcel’s employer, a physician, retired, she saw an opportunity: “I decided I’d move to Fort Worth.”
The women were married Dec. 13, 2014 in Las Vegas, It is a decision neither woman regrets.
“We’re in a good place now,” Marcel said. “It was funny when we moved in together. We were and still are learning one another. We’ll have a tiff then laugh about it. The moments we share are precious.”
Sharon added, “There are lots of beautiful love stories, but this is my favorite. I can’t believe we came full circle.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2016.