Valentine’s Day brings out the love and we join in, featuring local love stories
By Christina Stock
Love is in the air, in the shops, in popup ads and on TV — if anybody forgets that this Friday is Valentine’s Day, it’s on purpose.
While many of us roll our eyes when the chocolate hearts are on display in shops, right after Christmas and New Year’s’ decorations go down, there is no doubt, love is something everybody wants. The dream to find one’s soulmate is embedded into our very being, the search ongoing until old age or until he or she is found.
There is an old saying that my German grandmother Else repeated to me every time I complained while playing with the family board games and always losing. She said, “Those who are lucky in playing games/gambling (in German it’s one word that means both: Spiel) aren’t lucky in love.” That sentiment helped for a while, but when I turned 30 without any love or lottery winnings in sight, I got a little disgruntled — little did I know that the following year, a 6-foot-5 Marine from Roswell would sweep me off my feet and prove that the saying can be true.
The concept of soulmate goes back to Greek mythology — an extremely disturbing one. Anybody who had read some of the ideas that those old Greeks came up with will not be surprised. The story talks about a giant who had it all, actually too much. He was an early “model” and united man and woman in one body — having two heads, two genders, four arms and four legs. Both were independent, got along with each other’s head and never stumbled over each other’s legs or argued. Of course, that made the big boss god, aka Zeus, very jealous. He used one of his lightning bolts and split them in two. Then he separated them and ever since, they were wandering the world trying to find their other half again.
The love that we know today and hope for comes from the ideal that was passed down to us from generations before us. They were immortalized in legends, fairy tales, art, books, plays and movies. Reality was often different. In the far past, only artists and the poor could marry for love. Mature children of farmers, the middle class, rich merchants or royalty had to marry to bring more wealth, power or both into the family. They were promised to each other often at birth, and only if they were lucky, they got along or even fell in love with their spouse.
After the Industrial Revolution, life changed, became easier and love became a dream that may come true for everyone.
Today, I want to introduce you to some true Roswell love stories and the people who want to share them with you, the reader. For some, it is a gift to their other half or a sweet memory of the beginning of their love.
The story of Mike Lanfor and Jenna Lanfor, shared in an interview, begins with Mike Lanfor visiting his widowed grandmother in Roswell after spending 30 lonely days taking photos at the Grand Canyon.
“I hadn’t seen her in a long time. When I stopped in, I stayed with my dad,” Mike Lanfor said. His grandmother married his grandfather when she was 15. “They were raised on a ranch, up in Clayton, New Mexico,” Mike Lanfor said. “She was from one ranch, he was from another. I guess at that time it wasn’t unusual. They got married and he went off to fight the war (WWII) and he didn’t come back for a couple of years. She got pregnant before he left. He came back and my dad was already 2 years old. When he came back, he moved his family to Roswell to start a business.” They had a long successful marriage in comparison to Mike Lanfor’s own parents who were divorced when he was 5 years old. “I grew up in an era where marriage commitments just didn’t last,” he said. “But my grandparents were the example that they were. I always admired that. I ended up buying a house and staying — that was 2012.
“I didn’t date, didn’t really get into the Roswell scene very much. I didn’t find anybody who shared the same interests as me, so it was kind of a lonely existence in Roswell,” Mike Lanfor said.
According to Mike Lanfor, his friend Tommy, who was a pilot just as he was, visited one day with his girlfriend Kelly, flying into Roswell on his small plane. The three spent time together and she got to know her boyfriend’s friend before she had to return to her home in Warsaw, Indiana.
“It was mid to end January, she (Kelly) had just returned from jet-setting with Tommy,” Jenna Lanfor said. Both were in the Optimist Club of Warsaw. “She was head over heels in love with this guy. We had a group of women who all sat at one table and we told her to shut up. Us at the Optimist Club were really sick and tired of hearing her jet-setting with Tommy. All of us were in our own places in life. A couple were married, me and another lady were divorced — just not interested. We were ready to leave and she says, ‘Jenna, I met this guy and he is one of Tommy’s friends.’ I right away said, ‘No. I am not interested.’ ‘Well, he lives in Roswell, New Mexico, and he has the same story as you have. It is very similar, you are aligned right.’ I said, ‘No.’ She is leaving out the door, I am heading to work, when she said, ‘You don’t have to listen to me, but his name is Mike Lanfor and he is friends with me on Facebook.’ At that point in my life, I was a single mom, I wasn’t going to embark on any dating. I hadn’t in the last three years, I’ve gotten into a routine I was comfortable with in life.
“I was working at a car dealership at the time and had a female friend who sat next to me at work. It was a month later, in February, end of February, I asked her, ‘What do you think about this scenario?’ She said, ‘What, you haven’t looked at his Facebook page?’ ‘No.’ She said, ‘Just look. Maybe he’s not your cup of tea anyway. Then you can just get it out of your head.’
So I looked at his profile, I didn’t do any perusing. He was cute. Then she agreed, he is cute. He is like Richard Gere cute. I went, ‘Oh no.’
“A couple weeks later, she was leaning on to me hard. So finally she got her way. I got on his page and orchestrated a Facebook message: ‘I am a friend of Kelly. You have been mentioned to me. I have stalked your page. You are now welcome to stalk mine,’ and sent it. It was five minutes later, he responded: ‘I am not sure what alarms me worse, that Kelly mentioned me or that you used the word stalked twice in our first communication to one another.’
“We started chatting back and forth on messenger from that day and we liked each other. We had good banter between each other. Intellectually we got along, we talked and our views on life are very similar,” Jenna Lanfor said.
The two became friends and talked on Facebook Messenger about their lives, hopes and dreams. Jenna Lanfor initiated the first meeting, she said, “‘Here is the deal, I really like you, but I don’t know until we can physically be around each other, I really don’t want to do this online metamorphose of pretend life. I really want to see you, and want to understand you, and watch your facial expressions, before I fully commit my heart that you are already pulling at.’ We agreed. I flew out six to eight weeks later.”
Three trips, which included adventurous hiking and camping trips, of Jenna Lanfor to Roswell, one trip by Mike Lanfor to meet her family and daughter and the decision was made. After a lot of research on Jenna’s side about the schools in Roswell, she packed up and moved with her daughter to Roswell and — because she couldn’t find any place to rent — she moved in with Mike Lanfor.
“That is how we met, how we got together. That was six years ago,” Mike Lanfor said.
Two years later, Mike Lanfor took Jenna and her daughter and friend on a trip to Moab, Utah. On the last leg of their trip, he brought them up the trail to the picturesque Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. He had visited before offseason and thought with the rather strenuous hiking trail, it would be quiet and ideal to propose. When they turned and the view opened up, he said about 100 people were enjoying the site. Through a fortunate timing, there was an opening when nobody stood in the arch. He pulled Jenna behind him and her daughter — who was part of the plan — was to take a photo.
“We stand there and pose for the picture, and she turns around to look around. I reach into my camelback, get the ring and as soon as I get down on my knee, the crowd realizes what is going to happen, so that cheer, this wave of ‘Yeah’ (is heard). Jenna turns around and asks, What are you doing?’ I open the box with the ring and say, ‘I am trying to propose and ask you to marry me.’ This is the risk I took, because on the far side was a 150 feet drop. She could have just said no and boom there I go,” Mike Lanfor said and laughed.
“We come down and there is this whole group of older girl scouts, probably ninth graders,” Jenna Lanfor said. “So we come down and their leader, she says, ‘You know, you just ruined multiple men’s chances of ever proposing to these girls in any way that will ever top this, because they will be talking about this forever.’
“With our journey, and where we both came from, it was amazing,” Jenna said. “We both deserved that and deserved something bigger than life.”
“Jenna deserves that, she deserves somebody who loves her for the rest of her life, somebody who loves her that much,” Mike Lanfor said.
This year, Jan. 1, the couple tied the knot where they first saw each other in real life, the Roswell Airport. The marriage was just as unusual as their love story and their engagement. Airplanes are a big part of our lives, whether it’s toy airplanes, real airplanes or drones. The couple is known for their company AirPlay Media and Adventure Services, working for movie companies filming in the area and other drone photo operations and classes.
“It was amazing how many people rallied behind us, during the holidays with these extremely complicated things we were asking to do,” Mike Lanfor said. An aircraft was at the Roswell Airport waiting to be serviced so it could get back into service. “The company servicing the aircraft reached out to the company who owned it, which was a major company, and they told them that they had a couple who wanted to get married in the cockpit. They said, ‘Yeah, let them.’ Somebody giving us this Boeing 767-300 multi-multi-million-dollar aircraft, and it was an airworthy aircraft. It was a fully functional aircraft that came in for service. It was unbelievable,” Mike Lanfor said. The marriage ceremony took place with a limited number of close friends and family, due to the security restrictions.
Love after a second date
The story of Tanya Kraft and Rick Kraft, told by Tanya Kraft
“It was the summer of 1983, a little before August. There were a bunch of single people back then. I was a single teacher and Rick was a single attorney. There were a lot of single attorneys. One of my friends had a party and she wanted to introduce all of her friends to her boyfriend, who was Rick. I went to her house and Rick and I met each other, and I found out he went to Baylor and I went to Baylor (the university in Waco, Texas). We sat and talked about college friends that whole night. We didn’t know each other back then and I wouldn’t have gone out with him anyway. He is younger than I, he would have been a class behind me. No, they’re babies.
“But he was a nice guy and I thought, I’m happy for my friend that she’s dating him. She was an interior designer here in town and owned a decor place.
“Well, as time goes by, she breaks up with him. She didn’t tell me she broke up with him. He called me. I thought, he’s a creep, he’s going out with my friend. What are you doing calling me? I said, ‘How dare you call me?’ That was really funny. Then he explains to me, she broke up with me and she gave me a list with three names on it. Here are three girls you might want to date. I thought that was pretty funny. I knew the other girls, good girls. I don’t know why he chose me to call, but he did and gave me the ‘creep call’ — when I found out he had broken up with her, I thought, well, I’ll give him a chance.
“We had a group at that time in Roswell called Force One. It was a group of single people and we would get together, because we weren’t the kind of people who liked to go to the bars and put up with the bar scenes, so two, three times a year, we would throw a big party, basically a dance, and you could bring munchies if you wanted to, we didn’t have alcohol because most of us didn’t drink. It was kind of fun in the ‘80s. The wild times. I invited Rick to go to a dance and I invited a few other guys to go, too. Rick thought he was the only one invited. Rick is intense, very intense. He wanted to monopolize my time and I was, I have all these people here I want to visit with. So he asked me out for a first date and I thought, why not? So we went to Pizza Hut, which used to be on Second Street where Portofinos is. We sat in a corner and the man asked me the nosiest question you would ever think about people asking. I mean nosy, personal questions. I thought, oh my gosh. I felt like I was being deposed, like a deposition. He said, ‘Well this is what I am going to do, I just want to decide, if there is going to be a second date or not.’ He told me that after we finished.
“My mother and I talked that night. I told her he scares me, he is too serious. He was 24 or 25. He is way too serious. It was kind of a weird date. There was a second date and it was much more casual. He wasn’t nosy and asking all these questions. So we were able just getting to know each other. It kind of progressed. He said he wanted to show me something, so he took me down to Poe Street where he was building a duplex. He said, I want to move you into this side and I’ll be on the other side, so we can date. I said ‘No, I won’t do that.’ He’s just so different.
“My grandmother had a hard life, but was a wise woman. I couldn’t wait for her to meet Rick. We sit down and start talking, Rick starts asking my grandmother questions. ‘Gramsy,’ he asked, ‘What’s your secret of long life?’ She says, ‘Well Rick, ‘Only the good die young.’ My grandmother was married seven times. He said, ‘Really?’ She said, ‘Yes, Rick, only the good die young.’ With that he takes my shirt, opens the front and takes a great big glass of water and pours the whole thing with ice water down my front. I was shocked because I didn’t know why he did that. And he looks at her and grandma asked, ‘Why did you do that?’ And he said, ‘You told me only the good die young. I don’t want to die young.’
“My grandma called me the next day and said, ‘Dump him kid, he’s a creep.’ She had to eat those words later when she found out that he is a good person. I am glad I didn’t.
“We met in August and Valentine’s Day rolls around and he had some awful Federal Jury Trials. Big things that he was working on. I helped him out doing some research and putting things together, working by his side. We worked well together. He asked me to go to dinner with him and he took me up to Tinnie. At Tinnie, we sat down and he gets a bottle of wine — he doesn’t drink. So he gets the bottle of wine, he made me drink the whole thing, and then he took me out on the porch. He was turning white and I thought, he’s going to throw up.
“I asked, ‘Are you ok?’ He gets down on one knee and says, ‘I want to ask you something.’ I asked, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘I want to marry you, I bought you a ring.’ He opens the box and the ring went flying down the front porch, outside, so he had to go hunt for the ring. So, he asked me again, ‘Will you marry me?’ I asked, ‘Have you asked my father yet? He said ‘Yes I have and we have his blessings.’ At that point I thought OK, I’m good, so I said yes.
“It was our little love story.”
However, Tanya Kraft said that Rick Kraft did not ask for permission from her mother and had to make good for a long time until she forgave him. Their new son-in-law had heard of the story and made sure that both were present when he asked for permission to marry their daughter.
Missing each other, finding each other
The story of Dirk Herzog, sent in by email
“I had been single for a year. The mother of my three children and I had split up. I had joined several online dating sites, mostly just looking for good conversation, a connection of some kind and someone to do things together. I was not looking for anything serious.
“For me, online dating sites were my best option because they allowed me to really put out there who I am. It takes time to get to know me. I am not a smooth talker or someone that comes across fake just to impress and deceive. Being able to take my time and express my thoughts and perceptions would give women the chance to really see what they were getting with me. However, I always seemed to come across as too much, too honest, too intense.
“I had met and gone out with a couple of women, but none of the women were interested in being real. I had grown weary of the lack of ‘real’ honest women online, having earlier been scammed by a catfish as well, I had decided to login and delete my account. When I logged in, a familiar photo showed up in my, ‘Users you might like’ section. It was a photo that had been popping up every time I logged in. I would notice it. It intrigued me. I would think, ‘I should message her.’ But then I would say— naw.
“The photo she used made me think she was a plain Midwestern girl, and I did not think I would have anything in common with her besides the fact that I too had lived in the Midwest for seven years during middle and high school. For several months I ignored the universe, while complaining to it that it would not send me the woman I needed. Well, as I logged in and saw her photo the very last time — just seconds before deleting my account — I decided, what the hell, why not, and decided to look at her profile.
“When I read her profile — oh my God — it was like the greatest man-hating, man-bashing diatribe ever written. Everything was, don’t talk to me; don’t write me; I am not here to find someone; I hate this and I hate that; here is what ‘I am into’ — which she felt was weird stuff like really heavy metal, the ‘X-Files’ and other supernatural stuff. This was just such an over-the-top profile I had to message her and find out more, besides the things she said she hated: I did not like myself … (except baseball) and the things she did like … such as the ‘X-Files’ and the supernatural, I did. So I messaged her, copying and pasting lines from her profile and replying to each one on point.
“Much to my surprise, she responded the next night, which just happened to be July 5. It was an instant love from that moment on. She said that my picture had been popping up in her ‘Might like’ section as well, but she too just kept brushing it off. She said that she too had logged in to her account to delete it because she was disgusted with what was out there, but as she logged in, she saw that she had a message from me. When she read it, the very first thing that captured her attention was how I copied and pasted everything she said in her profile and answered them on point. She knew she liked me just because of that. No one had ever done that and she thought it was just a Midwest thing. That is when we started opening up and sharing about out past.
“Turns out she was from the Midwest and grew up in the Quad Cities of Illinois, specifically, East Moline. My dad had been born in Rock Island, also part of the Quad cities. She was familiar with all the places I mentioned. Turns out, in 1986 at the age of 12 when my family and I moved to Michigan, we drove through the Quad cities looking at where my dad grew up, and we drove by my (future) wife’s house long before we knew of each other. Turned out the more we talked and reminisced, the more we realized that we had just missed each other on numerous occasions throughout life. The most recent having been when we lived just a few blocks from each other in our 20s and both hung out at the same restaurant.
“This time we were 60 miles apart, she in southeast Houston and I was north of Houston. We messaged and texted for a week. I hung on my phone like glue waiting for responses. We set a date to meet. On that day I drove the 60 miles to meet her and take her to an early dinner. She was waiting for me outside her house on the driveway. I had already driven past the driveway when I saw her. I had to stop, she looked so beautiful and stunning standing there. Her long blonde hair glimmering in the sun. I was just so enamored. That was how we first met in person.
“We made a date to meet again a week later. Well, I could not wait a week. A couple of days later I asked if it was OK to come down sooner. She said yes, and we went to a movie. It was a terrible movie and through the whole thing, I kept trying to get up the nerve to kiss her. I thought up terrible lines, and was too afraid to just kiss her as it might freak her out. Finally, as the ending credits came to an end, I said to myself this is it, this is your last chance. Kiss her or lose her. So I put my hand on her cheek and turned her head toward me and I kissed her.
“Five months after we had first met, at 10:13 in the morning, 10/13 being Fox Mulder’s birthday from the “X-Files” — her favorite — I asked her to marry me. Her response, ‘Are you serious?’ I still tease her about that, but she said, ‘Yes.’
In 2013, we decided to come to Roswell and check out the UFO Festival. It was something we learned that both of us had always wanted to do long before we ever met. So we decided to make it happen. When we got here, we fell in love with Roswell and all of New Mexico. Tawnya and I got married on Oct. 13, 2013. We came back to Roswell in 2014 to make sure we wanted to move here. I put in for a transfer and we moved at the end of the year.
“My wife and I — after years of narrowly missing each other in our youth — came within minutes of missing each other once again (online). But fortunately, everything came together finally, and we found each other and have been happily married for seven years.”
With love from Costa Rica
The story of Reneé Craig-Roach, sent in by email
“I’m so excited to share my beautiful love story with you. When I was 19 years old and attending New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, I met a beautiful man from Costa Rica who was completing his PhD in Agricultural Engineering. He serenaded me with beautiful Spanish love songs from the singer, Jose Jose (who recently passed away) and we had the most beautiful romance for six months, then unfortunately, he had to return to his country.
“At that time, we didn’t have cellphones or internet, so we wrote each other beautiful love letters and called each other once a month using long distance. I worked very hard to get approved for a Rotary International Scholarship and approval from the board of regents to complete my studies for Viewing a Wider World in Costa Rica by writing a thesis on ‘Finding an Accounting System for Natural Resources in the System of National Accounts’ with my love, Edmundo, as my professor. I was able to live and study in Costa Rica for six months and pick up our beautiful romance. We skinny-dipped on secluded beaches, danced and kissed in the rain — anything and everything you could imagine.
“Then, I had to come back to the U.S. and was reunited with my high school sweetheart. We got married and had two beautiful sons.
“Edmundo also reunited with his high childhood love and they had three beautiful daughters.
“Five years ago, I got divorced and it broke me in two. My best friend and I fell in love and had a beautiful romance for four years and lived together, but challenges with our blended families was too much for our relationship and we parted separate ways in September.
“Then, while giving a client a massage (Craig-Roach is a massage therapist), she mentioned she had a lovely conversation with my ex-husband and he told her he was engaged to be married in the spring. My heart broke into a million pieces. Then one night while I was crying and couldn’t lift my head out of bed, my Costa Rican love messaged me on Facebook. We started video chatting. We have messaged and video chatted every day since. He recently bought me airline tickets for Valentine’s Day to visit him in Costa Rica — it’s been 25 years since I’ve seen my great love, my soulmate. I can’t think of a more beautiful love story in the world.”
A crush turns to love
The story of Kassie Chavis, sent in by Facebook Messenger
“I met my husband when I was 19. He was the second boy I ever had a crush on.
“Life happened and we went our separate ways. Fourteen years later, six kids between us, he sent me a Facebook friend request. We talked everyday for six weeks.
“He drove 1,700 miles from Reno to Roswell, and we met again five hours before the new year started. He left 24 hours later. When he did, I told him, ‘Next time I see you I’m marrying you and getting the boy I love.’
“He flew back here on the 11th of January. Didn’t take two weeks for him to miss me as much as I did and decide he wanted to be here with me.
“Monday morning, the 13th, when the justice of the peace opened, I married him. His name is Marcus, I took his name officially. Everyday, I thank the higher power for giving me this man now. I pray more, I smile more, I worry less and I found a love for myself I didn’t know I lost.
“He tells me every day how he wishes he would have paid attention to me back then. I reassure him it was meant to be, to call him mine now. Never close doors on the what ifs.”
A message of love
The story of Desiree, sent in by email
“My husband and I met when we were 5 — yes, 5. We were kindergarten sweethearts. He moved away halfway through first grade and I didn’t see him again ‘til 2011.
“We both were married before; we both had three beautiful kids. Six years ago, we decided to finally be together after all these years. We are both 35, we have been married three years this April, and I can say I fall more in love with him each day.
“For many years I searched and searched for him — I never ever thought I would find him again. And then, boom, there he was. I thank God every day that he finally gave me you. I love you so very much, Jimmy.
“I love you, your wife Desiree.”