Jim Moran didn’t catch the drift. Not at first anyway.
Here’s what happened: It was last November when Moran received a video in a text message from Deborah Warren, his companion of eight years. It was a fantastic message, really, full of dancing and music and Moran responded with a smiley face emoji. In other words, he missed the point.
The message was the following Beyoncé video:
That’s right. The 12-term Congressman from the 8th Congressional District and former Alexandria Mayor didn’t get it. So, a couple days later Warren sent him the lyrics, which say over and over, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.”
“It slowly occurred to me that there was a hidden message here,” Moran told The Zebra. “She’s much smarter than I am.”
It was on New Year’s Eve that Moran dropped on one knee at the National Gallery of Art and popped the question to Warren.
“We were really meant to connect at some point in our lives, and we’re lucky it was later,” Warren said. “Love in later years can happen to you, and life is short and it’s important to be with people you love.”
Warren, the deputy director of the Arlington County Department of Human Services, is no stranger to Alexandria. She spent decades as a social worker and director within the Alexandria Community Services Board and city’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Moran and Warren first met in 1986, when he was the mayor at a city council meeting. Moran was mayor from 1985 to 1990.
“He had red hair and a mustache back then,” she said. “He was very charismatic and charming, and at the time that I met him all these ladies were swarming around him and I was shy and never thought of anything happening between us whatsoever.”
Warren approached the then-mayor after the meeting and discovered that they grew up within four miles of each other and both attended Marian High School in Framingham, Mass. Moran ended up asking her out, but she declined his invitation.
“I’ve very shy,” she said. “He was locally famous, but we would run into each other at all sorts of events and I remember every single interaction with him clearly, but we never had more than a conversation at all though the years. I know it sounds strange, but I never thought he knew my name.”
Not so for Moran.
“We had a public hearing and she testified on behalf of the elderly and afterward we met, and she had this accent identical to my own, heavier even,” he said. “I watched her as she continued to get awards and do more and more for people in need and always admired her. When I found myself to be single the first person I thought of was her. It was instinctive.”
Warren was presented with an award from SCAN of Northern Virginia in 2010. The event was held in Tysons Corner, and at an appropriate moment, Moran and Warren spoke.
“He said he came all the way here from Capitol Hill to see me win this award,” Warren said. “I said, ‘Oh, come on! You’re Jim Moran-ing me,’ but then someone took our picture and it appeared in the paper and we looked like an old married couple.”
It was a few months later that Warren received a call from Moran to go out to dinner. Moran was on time at Indigo Landing – 8 p.m. on the dot, which is significant if you know Jim Moran.
“Little did I know that it was a big deal for him to be on time,” Warren said. “And two-and-a-half hours later I excused myself and texted a girlfriend of mine, ‘I think this is a date!’ I’m not sure I would’ve done it if I knew it was going to be a date.”
Soon the couple were talking for hours on end on the phone, and it still took seven months for their relationship to become official.
“If you ever see us together, we’re in sync,” Warren said. “We’re always laughing. It’s that we’re aligned with common values and it’s about public service and taking care of the most vulnerable, and that’s who we are.”