The First Time I Ever Saw Her Face

So back last July, I started my new job and returned to aerospace.  It was a great time, and I was truly excited to be a part of it.  I was so excited that I started keeping a work journal.  Every day, I would jot down a few sentences on what I’d done / thought that day.  I generally did this at the end of the day as a way to set myself up for the next day, as it was a great chance to leave myself a note or similar.  OmniFocus does really make me happy, but a few thoughts in Day One were good, too.  [Yes, I had a recurring OmniFocus task to remind me to write the notes.]

Anyhow, here’s the note for Thursday, July 17th — my fourth day at work:

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That first line documented the first time I’d ever seen her face.  She came into the meeting late, which I found a little surprising.  Junior people aren’t supposed to be that busy, and she couldn’t be much more than 30.  I didn’t really pay any attention to her, because the meeting was indeed talking about things that interested me — mainly the integration of improved avionics air assembly fans that could be used at a lower voltage while still providing the throughput that we needed.

But then the meeting turned to other things, and then I grew disinterested.  It was then that I looked in front of me and really took her in.

“Wow, she’s really pretty.”

“Wow, she has a lot of freckles.”

Wow, she doesn’t wear any makeup at all — not even eye makeup or mascara.  Yes, those eyelashes are red.”

Then, because she was busy, she left the meeting with a wave that trailed from her arm near her waist, a meek offering of exit that I’ve come to know well in the year since.

I saw that face this past Wednesday when we were driving around looking for wedding venues.  Because it was mid-day, she was driving and I was the passenger; she was focused on the road, and I looked over and saw her as I had 363 days earlier.  It was the same face, the same studied look, the same no-frills appearance.  She was even more beautiful to me, mainly because of all that we’ve shared over the last year and how well we’ve come to know each other — better than I’d have ever expected to in just a year.

I could tell you a bunch of things about her, but I’ll go with these:

  • She doesn’t wear makeup because of one day in her last job down at NASA Johnson Space Center.  You can’t wear makeup inside of a space suit, because you’d have all of that mess gumming things up.  She decided that she felt like she looked great without it, so she stopped wearing it.  Thank you, spacesuit regulations, from letting her go from “adorable strawberry blonde” to “adorable natural strawberry blonde” before I came to know her.  (As she says, she switched from foundation to sunscreen.)
  • We look upon our failings as things to work with and not things to constantly trip over.
  • She loves her family so very well and enjoys spending time with mine.
  • She’s fun.  (You’ll have to meet her to prove me out on that one.)

I didn’t know her name when she left.  It was a couple of weeks before I’d know thanks to a couple of group emails that I could cross-reference with LinkedIn.  I befriended her, although that was probably a bit under false pretenses, as she thought that I was new to town.  (Ahem.  I moved here in 1997, went to college here, and worked in aerospace for eight years before leaving for a few years.)

One Friday in mid-August, she asked me to come and play board games with her friends.  Although I don’t really play them other than to be sociable, that’s exactly what I wanted to be doing.  It proved to be a long, fun weekend that preceded her leaving town for a long, agonizing phone-call-filled week.  She came back, and then we threw it all on the line.  Then it went from there.

For nearly 11 months, she’s been my near-constant companion.  As much as the work trip I’ll take next week — new job, more about that later — will be very good for my training, it’ll take me away from her for nearly five days, and that already feels like an eternity.  We just fit together, and while I do lament the time that I previously had to read books with impunity, the wonder of this new and amazing love eclipses any frustrations I may have over losing my old life.

In two months, we will be wed.  She will be Danielle Morris, and I will be forever hers.  In so many ways, I already am; I welcome this new stage of life.

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