In fall 2019, Portia Carryer was mourning the loss of her beloved dog, a German shepherd named Rilke. That’s when Rory Jelinski made her presence felt.
“Rory is not a huge dog person, but when Rilke passed away, she was there for me,” said Ms. Carryer (left), 32, a teen librarian for the San Leandro Public Library in California.
“In my grief, Rory made sure that I knew she was by my side,” said Ms. Carryer, who graduated from Stanford and received three master’s degrees: one in library science from the University of Illinois, another in fine arts from the University of Victoria and another, in education, from the University of California, Berkeley.
“Rory didn’t try to fix the situation or talk it away,” Ms. Carryer said. “She was just there for me, and when that happened I thought, ‘This is the person I want to go through the hard times with.’”
They met in December 2017, at the holiday staff party for Oakland Technical High, where Ms. Carryer was a teacher and Ms. Jelinski a mental health clinician. Both lived in Oakland, and both were faculty members there for two years before crossing paths.
Ms. Carryer immediately began making up for lost time, trying to subtly let on to Ms. Jelinski that she was “both single and gay,” as Ms. Carryer put it.
“I definitely got the message,” said Ms. Jelinski, who became so sweet on Ms. Carryer that she brought her a cookie — and an invitation to go out for coffee — when she visited Ms. Carryer’s classroom the following week.
“I think we both found out very early that we have similar likes and values,” said Ms. Jelinski, 36, a marriage and family therapist in Oakland for Lincoln Families.
“Not only do we have so many things in common, but we are amazingly compatible,” added Ms. Jelinski, who graduated from Beloit College and received a master’s degree in counseling from the California Institute of Integral Studies.
They hit it off and things got even sweeter, as Ms. Carryer began putting cookies, scones or cake in Ms. Jelinski’s school mailbox.
“Portia was someone who could listen and communicate better than any person I had ever met before,” Ms. Jelinski said.
Ms. Carryer said Ms. Jelinski helps her be the best version of herself, “by always working on the best version of herself,” she said.
They were married Jan. 10 before Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin and two guests at a private home in Martinez, Calif. They had initially planned to marry at the Mill Valley Recreation Center in Mill Valley, Calif., where 75 guests were expected before the pandemic altered plans.
“It became a smaller wedding,” Ms. Carryer said, “but very honestly, a smaller wedding fit closer to the kind of people we really are as a couple.”