As the sun set on the first half of their lives, Steve and Laura Brogdon each knew they wanted something different. From different countries, they set out to turn that want into a reality. Looking to fill a void in their lives, they turned to the matchmaking website Amor.com. They set up profiles, posted photos and began taking those first tentative steps forward in the search for what was missing.
Without realizing it was happening, the search ended for both of them April 22, 2015, when Steve met Laura.
“I was a missionary in Mexico for 13 years, from 1990 to 2003,” Steve said. “Those were my formative years as a young adult — my first house, my first three kids were born there. Mexican culture just became a part of me.”
Steve was looking for someone who could understand him, someone who would be able to relate to his unique, bicultural background. Meanwhile, Laura was raising her children and earning a living in her childhood home, Tampico, Mexico.
“Laura was raised in private schools — a franchise called the American School. All the teachers there were American and Canadian,” Steve said. “So we’re both bicultural. We’re both divorced and we were looking for somebody that could see the world through the same eyes.”
At the time, Laura was an English teacher and the head of the English department at a private Christian school in Tampico. She was also looking for someone who could understand her, someone who could relate to her.
“I had directed a Christian school in my time in Mexico, and so our backgrounds were just so similar,” Steve said. “We both have kind of a Mexican-American, bicultural world view, and we had a similar religious background. We could understand each other so well.”
The two had established profiles on the matchmaking site a little less than a month prior to meeting. In no time, emails began flowing back and forth between the two. Eventually, emails were not cutting it anymore, and the two began video chatting with each other over Skype. Soon enough, though, even Skype wasn’t enough.
“I decided to bite the bullet, and I bought a ticket to go down to Tampico to see her,” Steve said. “We were both scared to death.”
Tampico is a port city in the southeastern part of Tamaulipas, Mexico, about six miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. It is the fifth-largest city in Tamaulipas, with a metro area population exceeding 850,000.
The U.S. State Department advises Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Tamaulipas due to violent crime, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion and sexual assault. The number of reported kidnappings in Tamaulipas is among the highest in Mexico, and law enforcement capability is limited to nonexistent in many parts of the state.
“Tampico is one of the places the travel advisories say Americans definitely should not go,” Steve said. “I had no idea if there was going to be a drug cartel down there looking to steal my organs, and she had no idea if some American psycho was coming down there to murder her.”
Despite his fear, Steve got on the plane.
Despite her fear, Laura was waiting when he stepped off.
“My close friends knew, and my children knew — not my sisters or anyone else in the family because they were going to freak out,” Laura said. “My kids knew about Steve once we started Skyping. They were happy to see me taking that step.”
That first week in Tampico, the two realized just how much they had in common.
“We spent those first four days together. We went to the Museo de la Cultura Huasteca — the Huasteca Cultural Museum,” Steve said. “We spent a day just going to a museum, and I thought, ‘What woman is going to think I’m anything other than dry as dust and boring?’”
Smiling, Laura leaned into Steve and answered that question, “Well, that’s me!”
“I was very used to going to museums,” Laura laughed. “I enjoy doing that, and I was very used to taking my kids to the museums. We love history and culture. I was surprised that he was surprised about that because I thought, ‘Well, that’s me!’”
That trip became the first of many. Sometimes Steve returned to Tampico, sometimes Laura came to Ada and sometimes they met in between. Laura has family in Austin, Texas, and the two spent time there. Eventually, a day came when neither wanted to leave the other again.
“My family, my sisters and my church community freaked out,” Laura said. “When I told my boss, the pastor’s wife, when I told her everything — that I was going to move to the United States — she was surprised. She could never have imagined that I would have gone to a (dating) website and everything, but I did.”
The two set plans in motion, and on June 1, 2016, Laura moved to Ada to stay.
“I felt like that was what we needed to do to find out if this was really going to work,” Steve said. “After a few months, I started looking around for an engagement ring.”
Steve and Laura became Mr. and Mrs. Brogdon Nov. 22, 2016. They say their love and appreciation for one another has done nothing but grow since they said “I do.”
“When I met him, what I realized is that every time I was talking with him or that we were spending time together, I felt relaxed. I felt safe,” Laura said. “Ever since I met him, I think that is the first thing I was aware of. He is so open-hearted with people, and I told him I understand why you once were a pastor and I love that about you. He’s got everything a pastor has in order to look out for his people and care — he’s so caring, so patient and courageous. I absolutely wanted to feel like I was not by myself. I feel that security with him.”
Their eyes sparkle when they speak of each other, even in the bland light of a newspaper conference room. It’s a visible twinkle.
“I admire her courage and her humility,” Steve said. “Not just the guts it took to do this, but she’s done so many things — she started her own business from nothing in Mexico. I now know she was scared to death when she did it, but she did it anyway. Just like now, moving to another country and marrying me. She’s really level-headed. She’s mature and responsible.
“She’s also a hell of a lot of fun — she’s just so much fun! She’s teaching me how to dance. Who would’ve thought you could find a Christian school teacher who could dance — I mean really dance!”
Steve said sometimes the two will spend hours dancing on the hardwood floors in their bedroom, just the two of them.
“We’ll turn on music and we’ll just dance,” he said, adding that it’s one of their favorite things to do together.
“Dancing and cooking, because we love to cook together,” Laura adds.
“We do like to cook together,” Steve agreed. “We may wind up going into business together. We’ve thought about doing a food truck. She’s got some good stuff, some good plans.”
Though they have a lot in common, they don’t agree on everything.
“She’s more conservative than I am on some social issues,” Steve said. “But this is the thing. We can debate these things and we don’t get mad at each other. She doesn’t give in for any reason. She voices her opinion, and she sticks with it. We don’t necessarily change each other, but I think we do soften each other’s edges on some of those things.
“We understand each other, too, because of understanding the cultures each of us come from — the blending of cultures. A lot of the social issues that are going on today, we don’t always see eye to eye on the way those things should be handled.”
“That is something I also like,” she said. “In that way, I can be myself and we can talk about things we don’t agree on but we are also able to understand each other, and that is so important. That’s one of the things I’ve liked since the very beginning.
“I told him, ‘Since I saw in your profile that you went to the Baptist college — when I saw ‘Baptist college’ I said, ‘OK, that is a person that is going to understand my way of thinking!’”
Laura said she loves living in Ada. She likes the small-town feel, and so does Steve.
“I have my roots here. It’s home. It’s full of memories for me,” Steve said. “It’s where I grew up, and it’s been my whole life right up until I left to go to college. There are people here that I went to grade school with that I still run into.”
On any given night, the Brogdons might be found enjoying a little of that upscale small-town appeal at their favorite spot, Vintage 22.
“We like to go to Vintage 22. If we have a night alone without the kids, we always wind up at Vintage 22,” Steve said. “We got engaged there. Most of the bands that go and play, we know them, and we always run into people we know there.”
Their time together has taught them things about themselves they never realized before. For Laura, she learned she can cook. Being forced to take a year off work while waiting for immigration matters to run their course, Laura said she was able to experience what it was like to be a housewife for the first time in her life. Steve learned something a little deeper.
“I do still have the capacity to love. I didn’t think I had that,” Steve said. “I didn’t think I was going to be able to really open myself up and love again. I didn’t even want to. I’ve been through two divorces, and I didn’t want to fall in love. I thought I could live without this.
“I didn’t need the risk. I thought I could do all the things I needed to do without being in love. I was looking for a relationship, but when I started I wasn’t going to give it my all. I just wanted to find somebody that maybe I could just be with, but I didn’t really think I could ever just open up to somebody again and really fall in love. But I did.”
Laura said there’s a lesson in that.
“When you’re really looking forward to something that is in the very deepest part of your heart, and you believe that it can be, you can find it,” she said. “You just have to believe.”
Laura said she never thought she would be able to live out her “golden years” the way she saw them portrayed in movies, but now she does.
“I think it’s just a matter of being courageous and believing in yourself,” she said. “Because if you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t be able to believe in anyone else. That is part of what we should be able to love about each other — the differences. I always say, ‘Babe, you’re so dramatic sometimes,’ but I love him just the way he is. I see myself a lot in him.”
Steve said he used to believe the old adage of life beginning at 50 to be nonsense.
“I used to think if you don’t reach your goals by the time you’re 40, then it doesn’t even really matter. Because even if you reach them, it’s not going to be as satisfying because you’re old and decrepit. You won’t have the energy (to enjoy them).”
Steve said he doesn’t believe that anymore.
“At 52, I’m honestly happier than I have ever been, and I feel like I can appreciate her so much more than I ever would have been able to before,” he said. “I think when you’re younger, you're more self-centered and you don’t even really realize what you’re after. You overlook all the best things when you’re that age because you’re looking for something else.
“Every stage of life has its high points, but man, this is honest to God the best stage of my life so far.”