Set your heart aflutter with our series “Love Stories,” which features unique couples whose tales will inspire you to celebrate and #ShareYourLoveStory this Valentine’s Day. This love story shows how first impressions can lead to a lasting relationship.

Noriko Sato and Pedro Lee met in Brooklyn a decade ago. She says she noticed him when he walked into the bar she was in with friends because it was nighttime and he was wearing sunglasses. Pedro disputes her definition of “night” and says it was more like dusk, so sunglasses were, in fact, perfectly acceptable.

They tease each other about the story, clearly enjoying the easy banter as they look back over their seven years together. Noriko and Pedro come from very different backgrounds (she is from Japan, he is African American and grew up in Edgefield, South Carolina), yet they share a similar quirkiness and sense of humor.

Now they have made their home in East New York, Brooklyn, though they are always happy to take off and explore new places. “We like to go out to eat and travel,” Pedro says. And, of course, those activities often lead to interesting new combinations and experiences.

Look and learn

Pedro says he realized he was in love with Noriko when they were out with a group of friends. He was sitting off to the side. “I noticed how she reacted with others and how others were connecting to her energy,” he explains. That early impression has firmed up over their years together. “I discovered consistency in character — there are no surprises with her,” Pedro says. “We are very upfront with each other to avoid any blindside hits within the relationship.”

For her part, Noriko remembers a little drawing Pedro made for her right after they first met. “It just was a shocking gesture out of nowhere,” she says of the surprise. “He still gives thoughtful gifts.”

The pair say COVID-19 restrictions have not had much of an impact on them, as they live together and could make the most of quarantine time, building on the foundation of their relationship. “We make ourselves strong, no matter the event,” she says.

And what about Pedro and the nighttime sunglasses that sparked this whole romance? “Pedro hasn’t worn sunglasses in years!” Noriko says with a smile.

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Joanne is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She's been a storyteller all her life, and she loves sharing glimpses into people's lives. Her writing has been published on and in Mission magazine.

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