The Road to Coupling: The Normans – 10 Days in 10 Years

By artist Donald Calloway

By artist Donald Calloway

The Beginning


I met my best friend Shoni 20 years ago. For the first six years, there was one name on repeat in her story of love and relationships – Scotty Norman.

And Shoni told the story of this man she met three years earlier with a glint in her eye.

Scotty and seven of his “gorgeous” buddies drove from the University of Buffalo in New York to stay the weekend with a mutual friend at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where Shoni was a student. She told of how they partied and sleeping arrangements meant each fella stayed in a different young lady’s room; Shoni took in Scott. And a friendship took shape.


The Beginning

Scott: She set me up a little bed or something on the floor. We spent the whole night talking. It was a really cool connection.

Shoni: I was just nervous. I was like ‘I don’t know this person’. I had reservations but Scott was charismatic, got me to dance. We just started talking and one conversation led to another; and before we knew it, we were sleep and up the next morning. And I knew I loved him.

After the weekend, the guys went back to New York; but Scotty and Shoni kept in touch. There were a few phone calls and handwritten letters, which Scott says was not only uncommon back then because of the growing use of email, but it was particularly uncommon for him.

Not long after the fellas traveled to U-M, the girls drove to New York to visit the fellas, though, neither Scott nor Shoni remember that visit as being as momentous as their first. But after that weekend, they continued to write.

Shoni: It was always the caliber of our conversation. We connected; and though I didn’t voice it, I sensed it even in him. But I was like ‘this is ridiculous! This man lives in New York. He’s a native New Yorker. What chance do we even have to be together? ‘Cause I could date this man. But he’s four years older and he’s graduating and headed to Japan. Those plans were already in place. And I was a sophomore in college, changing majors at the time and really unsure about my academic career. But I loved this man.

After graduating the next year, Scott lived out a teenage dream to go Japan where he found work as a teacher. But before he left, he went visiting.

1992 new car pic

Shoni’s first car

Scott: I realized I was gonna be there for a year, maybe two. So I figured since I’m not gonna be able to come back, let me say goodbye to a few people. I spent the last month visiting people I thought I’d miss, and I came to Michigan to see Shoni. I spent the last weekend with her. I met her mom and we shopped for Shoni’s first car.

Shoni admits being depressed when Scott left for Japan, and it was around that time she joined a church. She tried to reach out to him to “convert” him, which freaked him out.

Scott: I heard from her some time in ’94, within my first year being in Japan. And it was awkward. She was asking me what my spiritual life was like. She said she’d started going to church and stuff. And, inside I was like, ‘Uh, I’m not talking to you. I got a lot of Japanese girls out here that like me’. And that was the last time I’d talked with her for another nine years.

End of Part 1

There will be two more installments of this story this month.

Read Part 2


The Road to Coupling is a blog series about married couples; what led them to get married, and what holds them there.


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  1. Even though I got to watch this story evolve, it was nice to hear their journey in their own words. I can’t wait for part 2

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