How we met: ‘I heard heels coming down the sidewalk. I turned – and it was love at first sight

when Peter was asked to host an overnight Brazilian radio show in the Californian city of Santa Cruz, he jumped at the opportunity. It was the summer of 1984, and he loved volunteering at his local community radio station alongside his seasonal job as a park ranger. “I’d recently found a new Brazilian record, so I was thrilled to be asked to do the show so I could feature it,” he says.
While Peter was DJing, Chelsea who was driving to Santa Cruz from Mountain View, California, tuned in. “I’d just been dumped by my boyfriend and was moving to Santa Cruz with all my stuff in the back of my parents’ car,” she says. Still raw from the breakup, she felt moved by the song. “I started looking for a payphone at a gas station so I could contact the radio station and find out what it was. I remember digging through the car seats to find a dime to make the call,” she says.
Peter answered her call while he was playing another record and told her the name of the song: Palhaço by Egberto Gismonti. He didn’t think she would be able to find it in a shop, so offered her the chance to borrow his copy and record it. They arranged to meet up outside an ice-cream store in Santa Cruz. “I heard the tik-tok of heels coming down the sidewalk,” he says. “I turned and thought: ‘Oh my God, this beautiful woman is walking towards me.’ It was love at first sight for me.”
After Peter gave Chelsea the record, they grabbed some ice-cream and got chatting. “I remember that we talked and laughed constantly,” she says. They met up again a few days later so that she could return the record. “This time we went for a picnic. I was totally in awe of her,” he says. “I showed up with a loaf of bread and a stick of salami, while she brought this beautiful spread of fruit. I just found her so interesting and smart.”
The pair quickly formed a deep friendship. “We kept asking each other if we’d met before because it felt so familiar,” says Chelsea. Over the next few weeks their feelings grew and they shared a kiss in August. “It was in the little cabin he lived in. I think a realtor would call it ‘rustic’ but it was a little rough,” she says. “At the time, it seemed cool and natural, out in the middle of the woods.” They became a couple, enjoying regular dates to the cinema and gigs. In 1986, they got married in Chelsea’s parents’ garden in Mountain View before finding a place together in Los Gatos, California. “At first, I didn’t want to get married because I didn’t see any marriages that I wanted to replicate. But he convinced me that we could create a marriage that was whatever we wanted, and I think we’ve done that,” says Chelsea.
Chelsea worked in graphic design and encouraged Peter to pursue his passion in music. They moved to Oakland in 1992, and by the end of the decade Peter had found a job directing live music events at venues across the area. “I don’t think I would have done it without her support, guidance and a bit of ass-kicking,” he laughs. Chelsea, meanwhile, retrained as a welding instructor.
In August 2012, Chelsea suffered severe illness as a result of a bowel infection. “I never fully recovered and I still suffer with chronic fatigue now,” she says. “Everything I’ve always known about Peter, and his seemingly boundless generosity, was proven true. He has been unendingly supportive and uncomplaining. It made me realise I chose right.”
Peter loves that his partner is always positive and creative. “She looks to better herself and make life better for other people,” he says. “Plus she’s beautiful and funny.”
Chelsea appreciates Peter’s kindness. “I think ‘nice’ is such an underrated word but he really is so nice to everyone and I really like that about him. No matter what people do or say, he’s still nice. He’s very intelligent and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.

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