Ten years ago today, I was a customer business analyst sitting in my cubicle in Folsom, California. By all accounts, my life at twenty-four was not unlike the main character's in Office Space. I had TPT reports to create, and plan meetings to plan. I hated my job, and the first inklings of wanting to quit and go into teaching were just beginning. But this was no ordinary day.
It was the day I was about to meet the person I was pretty sure I already loved.
Here's how it went down. Several months before, I had been assigned a new account in the hi-tech world. Let's call it Bore-tel. While I was being trained, the girl training me made a list of the salespeople associated with the account. Next to each name she either drew and X or a smiley face.
'An X means they are stupid and/or mean, and you want to avoid them if you can. A smiley face means they are nice and they know what they are talking about.' (She would kill me if she knew I was writing this, by the way.)
When she got to L's name, she drew two smiley faces. 'This guy,' she said. 'L. He's the smartest person in the field. He's also the nicest. And the funniest. You will loooooove him.'
How right she was.
I still have the first email L and I exchanged, a question I had about ethernet controllers. I mean seriously, how much more romantic does it get? But as anyone who knows L can attest to, he is pretty easy to talk to. Our conversations about sales targets and supply in Malaysia quickly morphed into conversations about our lives, our friends, our family. I loved that we both could quote Airplane!. I loved how he talked about his Mom and his sister. It didn't matter that he was in Boston and I was in California. In fact, it made it easier to open up to him. Keep in mind I was a woman in her twenties who, about a year earlier, had had her heart ripped out of her chest by a previous relationship. And besides, we worked together. It could never possibly work out.
NOT TO MENTION WE'D NEVER MET IN PERSON.
I remember one night getting home from work and answering my cell phone. I think L and I were on the phone for five straight hours that night. I remember hanging up and thinking, 'Oh my god. I totally love this guy.' Now what?
L was scheduled to be in California for customer meetings on Halloween, ten years ago today. Knowing that we would finally meet had me on pins and needles for weeks. I barely knew what to say to him when we finally got a chance to be within breathing distance of each other, but I was pretty sure I was going to pass out. And that, I've come to realize, is the way you're supposed to feel when you first realize the person standing in front of you is the person you want to be with. Like, for always.
The last ten years have been perfectly blissful. No, that's not true. The last ten years have been nothing but hard, grueling work. No, that's not true, either. The last ten years have been full of the ups and downs of any relationship. We have traveled the world. We have laughed and cried and laughed again. We have created a family including the two most wonderful children in existence.
A woman in her thirties is honest. If I could go back in time to ten years ago today, I would talk to that nervous twenty-four year old sitting in her cubicle. The girl who thought she would never leave California; the girl who thought she would never trust anyone again. I would tell her that when she turns around and sees the man standing in the hallway, the one she thinks she already loves, that she should count herself lucky. The adventure was only just beginning.