BY ALYSSA SHELASKY
Laura Leigh Semon had never considered sex with a woman - let alone a romantic relationship - when she met Samantha Goettlich, her "little sister" at AEPhi. Then, one drunken night in the dorms, everything changed. Nine years, several affairs, and one surprise marriage proposal later, the two brides to be tell their love story.
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SAM I didn't have many friends at Emerson College after I transferred there sophomore year, so I joined the tennis team. The girls on the team said I should join their sorority. I was like, "I am so not a sorority type," but I needed to find less weird Emerson people to hang with. At the rush meeting, all the girls hated me because I was totally cocky - and, um, might have had a tongue ring at the time - but for some reason, this girl Laura was there in her Yankees hoodie, fighting for me to get a bid.
LAURA Sam seemed like a pain in the ass. At first I didn't really like her, but everybody else did. She didn't give a shit, and that made people want to be around her.
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SAM Laura ended up being my big sister, even though we were the same year. We had this really sarcastic relationship; we were pretty mean to each other. I guess it was our way of flirting, but at the time we didn't understand that.
I'd hear she went to dinner with someone else, and my feelings would be irrationally hurt. It was so confusing. I tried so hard not to think about it. I'd write in my journals about my intense love and hate for her, but even writing it down was the biggest deal. It was all out of control for me.
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SAM I grew up in Florida, where things happen fast: guys with girls, girls with girls. I'd had girlfriends and boyfriends. My family is very open; sexuality was never a problem. I don't really know how to explain what sometimes happens between two girls. It's not physical, it's an emotional thing.
LAURA Sam was a wild teenager; I was president of the Key Club. We were night and day. Being with a woman hadn't occurred to me in a million years. This was my first time with feelings for anybody, let alone a girl.
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SAM One drunken night, Laura's best friend cornered me in the bathroom and went for it. She made out with me, and Laura seriously freaked out. She didn't even know why she freaked out.
We all went back to the dorms. Laura locked herself in the bathroom and was bawling. I insisted she let me in. Then we kissed for the first time against the sink. She says it's the worst and best thing that ever happened to her.
LAURA She forced the situation that night. She forced it all out of me, and I went into complete panic, and then we kissed. I know, it's the stuff wet dreams are made of. But really, it was also terrible because it confirmed all my fears that I did have these feelings for her.
L to R: Laura and Sam, wine-tasting in Oregon after the proposal.
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SAM Laura was always so adult about everything. The day after the kiss, she came over to talk. But I was a big jerk and kept twiddling around with a bunch of people while she figured herself out.
I loved the attention.
LAURA As scared as I was to tell people, loving Sam was actually easy once it was out on the table. She was the one who played games.
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SAM She went abroad junior year and I ended up breaking her heart.
LAURA When I was abroad, she had this thing with one of my best friends in the sorority. I took it very badly.
SAM The whole sorority hated me and it was over with Laura. She got really skinny and was hooking up with a bunch of guys. So many girls were watching and judging me - it was a rough time for everyone.
Senior year, we started hanging out again. We were staying in hotels, hiding it from the sorority. Huge drama. Then she slept with a guy on spring break. It really sucked, but after that we got serious quickly. We moved to L.A. together for my job at CAA.
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LAURA After a year in L.A., I caught her in another lie involving another woman and said, "I'm moving back to New York." She followed. I got a job at a bar where there were a lot of cute guys. I kept thinking, Am I really ready to identify as a lesbian the rest of my life? So I did the cowardly thing and got wasted and slept with a man at the bar.
SAM I could smell it. She had been the most amazing friend and amazing girlfriend, so when she disappointed me, I just fell apart. I literally went crazy - stopped eating, quit my job, moved home to Florida. I was a mess. I was sleeping with everyone, doing everything bad. She was the one person who had never let me down.
LAURA She slept with a million exes in Florida. I stayed in New York and just missed her, like a loser. That's when I finally started to accept that I had found love with Sam. Who cares where or with whom! We got back together, one last time, and that was that.
SAM She needed time, once and for all, to figure out who she was. She had never considered herself gay. She's not emotionally attracted to men, but physically she is. It's confusing for her.
LAURA We're kind of scared of lesbians. We don't really go to gay bars. We went to "Baby Dyke" weekend in P-town. We showed up the first night in dresses, and everyone had on cargo shorts and sports bras. We were such outsiders! Sam is probably scared that I miss men. But it's not, "Will I always want a man?" It's "Will we always want only each other?" I think all couples ask themselves that.
SAM In 2011, my mom got sick and, after six months, died. She was my best friend and my rock. Laura was so amazing during that. I couldn't have gotten through it without her.
LAURA When her mom died, I just tried to put aside any of my own shit and completely be there for her.
SAM A month and a half later, Laura got hit by a car and lost her ear.
LAURA The scale was tipped again. We were still reeling from losing her mom, and I went into this raging, angry place. And then - I don't know - we just survived.
SAM We've been through it all. This past summer, I was like, we need something good. I knew it was soon after Mom, but I needed to put the sadness behind us. I proposed in August and now we're planning a wedding.
LAURA I was shocked! It wasn't according to my timeline, but I was like, I'm really happy and I'm going to go with it. You get so mad at the universe when bad stuff happens, you forget to acknowledge all the good.
We just can't get rid of each other. We've both tried, but we just can't.
SAM When I love, I love fiercely. I was a mess and Laura cleaned me up; then Laura was a mess and I cleaned her up. And now we're just boring and happy.
LAURA When you're young and with a girl, people are like, "Oh, that's hot!" But someday we're just going to be old, wrinkly lesbians and it's not going to be so cute. But I've accepted that I'm going to have a wife, and that makes me a gay woman. There's really no way of getting around it at this point.
Sam and Laura blog about their upcoming nuptials at 2Brides2Be.com. Sam's production company, Penny Lane Pics, produces scripted and reality TV.
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