Pangiotis "Pete" Kontoulakos of New Hyde Park tells of his long search for his childhood sweetheart, now wife, Marcia.
Marcia Marinos and I were childhood sweethearts from kindergarten, in 1977, through the fourth grade. We were inseparable. Though we knew nothing of real love, we knew we loved each other. I would carry her books from school and pick flowers for her. She would always hold my hand. We agreed on everything.
In the early 1980s, Marcia and her family moved from our neighborhood in Jamaica, Queens, to New Hyde Park. The following year my family and I moved to East Meadow. We saw each other again, briefly, when we were 12. Her sister was my sister's best friend, and they came to our house for a visit. That day, Marcia and I took a long walk together, as we did when we were younger.
We lost contact, and I tried to find her again when I was 14 but failed. A year later I was told she had moved to Greece, and over the next few years I would hear that she married and had children. I was devastated.
I would go out on dates but was never able to find that same feeling of comfort and love with anyone else that I had felt with Marcia. I worked as a cook and played drums in different bands, but deep down I felt my life had no purpose. I never married.
In 2009 I joined Facebook and started looking for her again. I contacted someone from our old block in Queens who led me to Marcia's sister. I learned that Marcia had only gone to Greece to get married. She had been living in New Hyde Park all these years. Her husband had died 10 years earlier and she was now raising her children and caring for her parents on her own. I sent Marcia a message, and we made plans to meet at the Landmark Diner on Northern Boulevard in Roslyn.
I was shaking like a leaf, but when we saw each other, after 27 years, we were instantly in love all over again. She was so beautiful.
We were married on Feb. 25, 2012, at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead and are living happily with Marcia's three lovely children, whom I consider my own, and her mother. Unfortunately, her father died a couple of years ago.
Marcia is a full-time mom and homemaker. I've finally settled down and this year opened a gyro sandwich shop, The Greek Place, in Garden City Park. We are together at last and still act like we did when we were kids.