Longhorns in Love: Professors find love between the pages

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CMAS director John Gonzales and English professor Patricia Garcia found love at a book release party and bonded over their love for literature. They consider each other intellectual equals and the balance in their relationship helps them grow personally and professionally.
Photo Credit: Briana Vargas | Daily Texan Staff

English professor Patricia Garcia wasn’t expecting to be introduced to the love of her life at a book release party. As the night progressed, she began to realize this was the kind of person she had been looking for all of her life. 

“We have a lot of similar growing up experiences,” Garcia said. “But the fates just didn’t happen to pull us together until that particular moment.”

Garcia and her husband John Gonzales, associate professor and CMAS director John Gonzales, met at a book release party in 2004. They immediately began to bond over their deep love for their South Texas roots and their love of literature, specifically, for the work of the great bard — Shakespeare. They were hooked. Subsequently, they married in 2006, but it took a lot of effort to make it work. Garcia taught at a university in San Antonio, making a daily commute while pregnant with their daughter at the time. 

“I look back and think ‘Wow, that was dumb,’ even though I had a good job” Garcia said. “But, he had this sort of idea of the type of life that he wanted to have here in Austin and how I could be part of that.” 

Experiencing the beauty of the arts and literature with one another were the little moments that kept them going.

“We have a mutual love for the aesthetic,” Gonzales said. “The beautiful, as it were. That’s one of the reasons why we’re literature professors. Whether it’s food or style or what have you, I think that is something we really do share. I love that about her.” 

Garcia said she values having someone to process artistic and literary material with. 

“We love going to plays, lectures,” Garcia said. “To go see and talk about how they put things together and take our training as literary scholars to look at what sort of narratives [there are] is awesome.”

Garcia and Gonzales consider themselves to be intellectual equals and said they appreciate the way they are able to bounce project ideas off one another. When they first met, Gonzales was working on his first big book project and Garcia was finishing up her dissertation.

“That book feels very much like the book of our relationship,” Garcia said. “I can look at the last parts of my dissertation and I can say, ‘Oh, we talked about this on this walk.’ It became a way to pull our research and our working lives together.”

Currently, they are editing a European journal on Latino literature together.

“It’s part of our intellectual project,” Gonzales said. “It’s one way for European audiences to consider an analogous situation to what they’re currently experiencing with the current influx of immigrants to Europe. It’s a parallel experience that I think they’re hoping to gain some kind of understanding. We can help that dialogue.”

To keep up with each other’s busy schedules, Garcia and Gonzales use synchronized calendars to keep track of each other’s commitments. They do their best to set aside time to spend with one another. 

“After we’re done for the day, we turn our laptops off,” Garcia said. “Even if it’s just sitting there watching the TV together, we try to turn those things off.”

Between learning to balance their academic lives, raising two children and maintaining their relationship, both professors feel they have learned valuable lessons about life.

“All intimate relationships need to have a kind of patience with each other and with the kids,” Gonzales said. “If you aren’t already naturally patient, you need to become patient. There’s going to be friction at times, but you have to make it work because you want to make it work.”