The Q Train Kept Their Relationship on Track
Two weeks before Melissa Leigh Hochman of Brooklyn met Dr. Alexander William Peters of Manhattan in January 2017, their train had already come in — on the tracks of the new Second Avenue subway, that is.
“We often joke that the new Q train made our relationship possible, as it cut our commute down from 75 minutes to 32 minutes,” said Ms. Hochman, 32, a vice president for digital strategy at Saatchi & Saatchi in Manhattan, who graduated from Boston University.
Dr. Peters, 34, a chief resident in general surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, agreed, telling Ms. Hochman in a playful tone: “If there were no Q, there would not be a me and you.”
“I work 80 hours a week,” said Dr. Peters, who graduated from Princeton and received a medical degree from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “I just wouldn’t have the time to do all of that commuting while keeping to my work schedule and maintaining a relationship.”
Six months after boarding their first Q train, Ms. Hochman and Dr. Peters embarked on what would become a two-year, long-distance relationship between New York and Boston, Switzerland, India and Pakistan, the places Dr. Peters needed to go to while pursuing a master’s degree in public health and a research fellowship in global surgery at Harvard during a hiatus in his surgical residency.
While they may have had an issue spending too much time on trains, Ms. Hochman and Dr. Peters had no problem boarding planes to destinations like Switzerland, Germany, Spain, France, Canada, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, the Galápagos Islands, “and all over the United States, as we traveled a lot for business and pleasure,” Ms. Hochman said. She moved in with Dr. Peters at his Upper East Side apartment in the spring of 2019, and quarantined with him through Covid, while she worked from home and he in the hospital.
The couple were engaged May 18, 2020 when Dr. Peters, ring in hand, surprised Ms. Hochman by dropping to one knee in the middle of an early-evening walk in their Manhattan neighborhood. They were applauded by neighbors sitting on the stoops of several buildings, some even clanking pots and pans.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” Ms. Hochman said. “The owner of a bakery on that street came out and gave us free baguettes, and the next day we walked down that same street and some of those same people were waiting for us with champagne to celebrate our engagement, and as we sipped the champagne, rose petals began falling from the fire escapes above us.”
Ms. Hochman and Dr. Peters had settled on July 31, 2021 as their wedding date, but needed to change plans quickly. Dr. Peters’s mother, Nancy Freedman Peters, had been battling metastatic breast cancer and received a terminal diagnosis, prompting members of both families to work toward putting together a wedding to be celebrated at an earlier date. Ms. Hochman returned to her old stop along the Q line and recruited a subway violinist there, Jônatas Nunes, to perform on the new wedding date, July 11, in the backyard of Nancy Freedman Peters’s home in Riverside, Conn., which she had shared with the groom’s father, Steven M. Peters.
Thirty-five guests were in attendance, including the bride’s parents, Dr. Linda O’Brien Hochman, and Mark Hochman, both of whom took part in a ceremony officiated by Rabbi Jordie Gerson, as well as the bride’s stepmother, Robin Hochman.
The groom’s mother, who was on home hospice, participated in the wedding and said one of the traditional seven blessings that mark Jewish weddings.
“It was a very emotional moment,” the bride said. “There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere in that back yard.
Tears fell again two days later, when the groom’s mother died.
“My mom was at our wedding, and she even participated in it,” said the groom, his voice beginning to melt. “You really cannot ask for a greater gift than that.”
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