Love Actually: Student couples remember how they first met


Sneha Gaur

Co-written with Nanda Nayak

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.21.58 PMSophomores Ollie Venzon and Cathrine Ying’s relationship isn’t just another relationship that formed by meeting through friends — they bonded over a cooking video. Taking the “Applied Electives Wheel” in 7th grade together, Ying first started talking to Venzon to complain about the terrifying cooking safety videos. From then, they began to speak more, and got closer through the years, but they never paid much attention to the shift in their relationship; it just happened.

“It was a very gradual thing,” Ying said. “We started developing crushes on each other and just wanted to cuddle with each other.”

Even though they’ve been friends for years, Venzon and Ying describe their relationship as awkward. However, it’s not the kind of awkward that needs to be filled with meaningless conversation— it’s enough to have each other’s company. Yet at school, their relationship is treated like a phenomenon with both of them being non binary and pansexual. Since coming out, they have both found that most Monta Vista students are ignorant when it comes to supporting and addressing the LGBT community. Students at MVHS tend to throw around homophobic and transphobic slurs such as “faggot” or “tranny” without realizing the context behind these words. Ying and Venzon try to stand up and explain the years of oppression and violence that the slurs carry, but instead, they’re told to lighten up, to stop being so sensitive.

It’s part of the culture at this school. If you try to speak up, you’re seen as causing a commotion. People say ‘Oh, it’s not that big of a deal,’ but it really is.

sophomore cathrine ying

While at Running of the Bulls last year, Ying and Venzon stood in line to get their pictures taken, when they whispered about the loud group of boys behind them. However, when one of these boys heard them, he angrily turned and called them “faggots.” Unsettled, Venzon and Ying told a teacher nearby about the incident, but the teacher merely told the boys “not to use offensive language” and walked away. They do not blame the teacher, understanding that she didn’t have enough time to reprimand the students. But, they do believe that if students and teachers made the effort to learn the history behind these words, MVHS would become a more tolerant campus, accepting of all people regardless of their gender or sexuality. With all these arising dilemmas and situations that the couple must face, they feel that they do not know what their relationship should look like.

“We’re just figuring it out,” Venzon said.
“But I’m glad that I’m figuring it out with you,” Ying added, resting their head on Venzon’s shoulder.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.31.17 PM
October 8th, 2013— little did senior Ajay Merchia know he was about to meet his future girlfriend.
After arriving at school, and locking his bike in the stands, Merchia looked up to notice another bike, with its lights still on. In an attempt of goodwill, he walked over to the bike and tried to turn the lights off. Unable to do so, he stood there, bewildered, trying to turn the lights off without looking like a bike thief. After two minutes of futile effort, Merchia turned around to walk away— but just then, the bike owner, current senior Radhika Dhomse, walked back. Merchia stood speechless, unaware of what to say. ‘Does she think I’m trying to steal her bike? What should I do?’ Merchia wondered. He decided to walk up to her and explain his actions. However, it didn’t come across the way he wanted it to. He mumbled a sentence under his breath, but Dhomse didn’t even hear him.


Yet after several other chance meetings, they started to talk to each other. Dhomse, however, believes it wasn’t a “love at first sight” moment. She admits to having mixed feelings toward Merchia when they first met.

“I’m very rude to everyone, so I was very rude to him too,” Dhomse said. “I was especially rude to him, because I had this closely knit friend group, and he was barging in on it.”

Merchia however, had strong feelings for Dhomse, and he kept giving her subtle hints. The first time, he said, “I think I like like you,” to Dhomse, she reacted negatively, saying “Ew, that’s gross, we would never get together.” Flustered and embarrassed, Merchia, adjusted his statement, saying that he meant it in a purely friendly way. But it all changed at a New Year’s party at Merchia’s house. Dhomse, who attended, went upstairs to talk to Merchia’s younger sister. There, Merchia’s sister let out the secret — Merchia had had a secret crush on Dhomse, on and off for the past three years. Dhomse, who had, just a month ago, started to have feelings for Merchia, was in total shock. She then went forward and confessed her feelings to Merchia, who admitted he felt the same way about her, and on New Year’s Eve, the couple started dating.
Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.47.45 PMAt Lincoln Elementary School, where handball dominated recess, senior Julia Cho recognized senior Josh Kim for his skill in the game, scurrying to the back of the line whenever she had to play against him. They weren’t friends then —they just acknowledged each other’s presence. But after discovering that they attended the same Sunday school, middle school and Korean school in sixth grade, they started to get closer.

“Everyone at [Sunday school] thought I liked her,” Kim said, remembering his classmates’ teasing nature. “But I was also bad at hiding it.”

Despite going to different high schools, Cho and Kim, who attends Bellarmine College Prep, easily continued their friendship since they lived next to each other and still saw each other during Sunday and Korean school.

“It was a constant back and forth,” Cho said.“It wasn’t like we completely lost touch.”


After spending holiday break with her in tenth grade, Kim planned to ask her out. They have a tradition of eating sushi together at Harumi, a restaurant across Valco, and then watching a movie at the nearby AMC. After each movie they watched together, Kim steeled himself to ask the question resting on his mind, but each time, he chickened out. Eventually, he mustered up the courage.

“It was hard because she’s my first girlfriend. I guess the first time’s always the hardest,” Kim said. “But for that movie, I told myself I was going to do it no matter what.”