A long courtship

Local couple tie the knot after nearly two decades together

Teresa Ensslin and Kevin Durkin on the front porch of their Chico home.

Teresa Ensslin and Kevin Durkin on the front porch of their Chico home.

Photo by Tom Gascoyne

Teresa Ensslin and Kevin Durkin met 18 years ago at a local outdoor concert and began dating soon thereafter. At one point, they lived together for about six months but maintained their separate residences. Last year, on St. Patrick’s Day, Ensslin proposed to Durkin. They moved in together in September and tied the knot on Oct. 5 while attending the Hoes Down Harvest Festival in Yolo County.

Durkin is well known in town as Kozmic Kev, an astrologer and host of KZFR Radio’s Bohemian Express. He is also a produce buyer for the Chico Natural Foods Cooperative. Ensslin is a longtime English instructor at Butte College.

The couple now live in Durkin’s house in the Barber neighborhood in southwest Chico. They each have grown children from previous marriages. During a recent interview at their home, Durkin, 55, and Ensslin, 51, sat in their crowded living room—they are still in the midst of combining their possessions into a single home—and gave the impression of a couple not only in love, but also of two people who really like and respect each other.

“I’d seen Teresa when she was with her ex-husband while I was caretaking at a friend’s place up in Cohasset,” Durkin recalled. “She is four years younger than me, but I thought she was older just because she had a way-older husband at the time. I thought, ‘Wow, she’s a nice-lookin’ lady.’”

They looked at each other and laughed. Ensslin shook her head and rolled her eyes.

“The other thing I remember is her middle son—who might have been 5 at the time—was on her lap, and I was thinking, ‘Man, that is one big kid to be all babied up like that.’ Those were my initial thoughts: Nice looking lady, kind of an old guy there that she’s with, and, boy, she really babies that middle boy.”

Marriage is nothing new to them. Ensslin’s first one lasted 13 years, while Durkin’s been married twice, once for five years and a second time for three.

Durkin was actually on the receiving end of a marriage proposal. Ensslin explained that it wasn’t quite as simple as “popping the question.”

“I guess I kind of did. But he was the one to say, ‘Maybe you could move in with me?’ and I said, ‘What have you done with my boyfriend?’ He had always been adamant before that that he wanted to live alone, that he wanted to have his own lifestyle. So at first I thought, ‘Oh yeah, he doesn’t really mean it.’ I didn’t really believe him at first, but then it got more and more of ‘Yeah, I think we can do this.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, if we’re going to live together, I think we could benefit a lot from being married with tax breaks and health insurance and this and that, so yeah, I popped the question.”

Durkin’s reaction?

“Well, it was very nice, I felt very flattered,” he said. “I thought, ‘Well yeah, I’m not going to get a better woman.’”

Durkin said early on he asked Ensslin whether she thought love was a feeling or a choice. She answered “choice.”

“And I said, ‘I can probably work with you then,’” Durkin recalled. “I’d had other relationships where they just wanted to throw in the towel when things got the slightest bit rough. Teri and I like the same music and spending time outdoors. Now we play music and sing together, too. It’s been a precious part of our relationship.”

Ensslin said making a relationship work is a matter of give and take.

“Over time you learn what’s really important to you, and what you can let go and when you should shut up and hold your tongue,” she said. “It takes time. If you can just make it through the first couple of years, then you start negotiating over all that stuff in the middle. Changing your habits when you are in your middle ages is hard, but we are managing it.”

Durkin noted that they had met when they were still in their mid- to late-30s, and by then people are fairly set in their ways.

“Yeah,” he said. “It’s hard to train me as an old dog.”