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Sweethearts 'meant to be'
Life together began with chance reunion
Cindy and Mark Hagen of Forsyth County attended their high school prom together in 1986. - photo by Contributed photo

As Valentine's Day rolls around each year, it's not uncommon for many couples to reflect on how their lives came together.

For Mark and Cindy Hagen of Forsyth County that journey spans three decades, two coasts and one big chance.

The Hagens are former high school sweethearts who reunited in 2004, nearly 20 years after they first dated.

The couple married in 2005 and make their home in Forsyth, where they are now raising their daughters, 2-year-old Hannah and 3-year-old Arianna.

But the wedding bells and little feet were far removed from southern California circa 1987, when the couple went their separate ways after attempting to date into college.

"She wasn't ready to get married," Mark said of the breakup.

But something changed for Cindy over those ensuing 17 years. On a whim, the then San Diego resident decided to look up her old boyfriend in June 2004.

She called Hewlett-Packard, the company he worked for when they were dating, and was transferred to their Atlanta office. She nearly hung up when she got his voice mail.

"I thought, 'What am I doing?'" Cindy said. "When he first called back, I didn't pick up. But then I called him back and it was hours and hours on the phone."

What she didn't know was that Mark had been divorced for about three years and had tried calling her during that time. He gave up, though, after realizing he had the wrong number.

He said he was surprised and excited when he got her message.

"I called her back shortly thereafter," he said. "I didn't waste much time."

During the conversation, they learned they were both going to be in San Francisco two weeks later. They made plans to spend a day together and from then on talked daily, sometimes until 3 a.m.

They spent more time together that Thanksgiving, when Mark came to visit her.

That New Year's Eve, she came to Georgia. He said they left a party early that night and went back to his place.

"I threw on some Elton John and proposed to her," he said, noting the proposal came after the couple had spent just 10 days together since ending their first relationship in college.

The Hagens said both of their families were nervous about the wedding plans.

"My sister was like, 'Are you sure this is the right one?'" he said.

Cindy said she had her own concerns, particularly about leaving her family and friends in California.

"I wasn't sure," she said. "Moving to Georgia was giving everything up, but gaining so much."

Despite the jitters, they married six months after he proposed.

Cindy said their relationship has been full of "miracles" along the way.

For example, she found Mark by checking with the company that he had started working for when he was 16. And he was still there.

She was 35 and still single when they reunited.

Unsure if she could have children, Cindy became pregnant with their first child two weeks after they married. The couple's second daughter came along 14 months after the first.

She also said she thinks it's a blessing that her parents and mother-in-law have moved from California to her north Forsyth neighborhood.

"I guess the main thing is if something is meant to be it doesn't matter how far apart you are," she said.