Her Side of the Story
It was my first day at work at Intel. I was at orientation and noticed a similar aged male was sitting next to me pulled out a Minnesota driver’s license. I got excited to think another Midwest new graduate student would be starting work out in California as well. There was a lot going on that I was trying to keep up with the notes and paperwork. All of the sudden someone that would become a great friend of us both turned around and started conversation. Yes, for those of you who know him it was Ting Sit. He wanted to get us all together this week to hang out and was a recent graduate as well. I am not entirely sure exactly how Chris and I started dating, but it was basically 1 month later and Ting was really who got us all to hang out in the first place. So thank you to him and our fellowship of the Ting hikes. Finally, on an awkward but funny note due to me dressing up in business attire vs. causal jeans and a t-shirt for the first day of work, Ting and Chris thought I was an MBA student. Given the average MBA grad is 7 years older than an undergraduate student; you can imagine my reaction to that question. Definitely would have never thought we would start dating after that one.
His Side of the Story
Where to begin? I suppose we could go back to that stormy night in 1985 when I was born, but I’ll save the life story for my memoirs. Instead I’ll fast forward to July 16, 2007. When I walked out of my Super 8 hotel room on El Camino Drive in Palo Alto that morning wearing a red polo shirt and khakis, I was ready to dive into my first real job. I had already scoped out Intel and figured out where I needed to go to make sure I wasn’t late on my first day. I drove down the heavily trafficked 101 and parked my 1994 Chrysler New Yorker, affectionately known as the Great White Shark, in the Intel parking garage and strolled on into the lobby. After checking in with the receptionist, I went and took my place in one of the four chairs where a couple other newbies were already sitting. I briefly glanced at a girl who I assumed was an MBA due to her very professional looking style, but mostly just looked around the lobby waiting for orientation to begin.
After a few minutes, an HR representative walked in and led us to a conference room where we spent the next couple hours filling out new hire paper work and trying to stay awake during the usual presentation about how you shouldn’t harass coworkers and other company policies. I was sitting next to the girl who I assumed was an MBA and behind a skinny Asian dude. If I had known what kind of crazy people I would be getting involved with that day, I might have stayed in my hotel room, but alas, my ability to predict the future was no better that day than it is now. As it happened, the skinny Asian dude, who I came to know as Ting Sit, turned around and broke the ice between myself and the girl beside me. The three of us made some small talk and plans to hang out that weekend. I don’t actually remember what the first activity we ended up doing outside of work was, but I think we probably ended up going out to Campbell or Palo Alto with our roommates. It must have been at least sort of fun since we kept hanging out afterward.
About a month of hanging out as a group passed before I decided to see if Crystal wanted to do something with just the two of us. Being the romantic that I am, I thought it would be neat to go down to Carmel-by-the-Sea after work, but we got in the car and realized Carmel was close to two hours away. Seeing how it would be dark before we got there and we’d have to turn right back around once we arrived, we scrapped that idea and went back to her apartment. Fortunately, her roommate, Adam, and his girlfriend (now wife), Diane, were there and wanted to grab dinner, so we ended up going to La Paloma Mexican restaurant in Santa Clara to get a world famous Cadillac margarita on our first date.
Things went swimmingly as we continued to explore the Bay Area together, going for hikes with the Fellowship of the Ting (FOT), meeting up with our many awesome coworkers (Saket, Shereen, Albert, and lots of other fun people) for frequent happy hours, hitting up Campbell and Palo Alto with our roommates (Cups, Adam, and Kyle) and all sorts of other awesome activities. During this time, Crystal learned early on to tolerate my devotion to Michigan football as she witnessed firsthand the affect games could have on my mood. During a hike to Stinson Beach with the FOT, I learned via a phone call that we had lost to a certain FCS school (cough Appalachian State cough) and proceeded to set the land speed record on the Stinson Beach trail. The one thing Crystal did miss out on in those first couple months was the chance to ride in the Great White Shark. I had traded that in for my Mazda the week before we started dating. She still holds that against me and I don’t blame her. It was a pretty sweet ride.
However, I think one event that really stands out in my mind as a sign of things to come in our relationship during that initial period of dating was the Austin Marathon. We were at the Rose and Crown Pub with some of our friends and the subject of marathons came up. Crystal had previously run the Minneapolis marathon whereas the longest I had run before that was probably 3 or 4 miles. She didn’t think I had the dedication it took to run a marathon, and of course, that was all the motivation I needed to sign up for one. We ended up choosing the Austin Marathon because we had heard great things about the city and it was a Rock’n’Roll marathon, meaning they had a “band” every mile along the route. Crystal managed to claim a 3 minute victory, but I still suspect she may have gotten a ride or some other sort of unfair advantage (I’m not saying she used PEDs, but I’m also not saying she didn’t use PEDs). Regardless, we both finished with decent times and that was the beginning of our many little competitions. Five years later and I still occasionally destroy her in Scrabble to reassert my manliness.
One of the other funny things about those first few months is we thought we had to hide our relationship from our coworkers and did so for quite a long time. It seems kind of silly in retrospect, but it was nonetheless impressive how long it was before people started to figure out what was going on. A couple people might have suspected there was something there, but I think most folks were genuinely surprised when we finally fessed up. I guess they just assumed I was one of those guys who dated a supermodel he had met only on the internet.
Speaking of hiding the relationship, it seems that parents tend to be the last ones to find out about these things. It’s not until they are eventually informed by a sibling that their son or daughter has alluded to a mysterious beau during phone conversations. This piques the parents’ curiosity at which point they start the Inquisition to find out more about this enigmatic significant other. I’m not sure how long it was before either of us mentioned our relationship to our parents, but it was probably a while.
Everyone did eventually find out one way or another and months eventually turned into 3 years together in California. Over that time, we had many new roommates as Crystal lived in four different places until she finally landed with Court and Kelley in a house in Mountain View. Cups and I only moved once to a house on Starr King Circle in Palo Alto, but we ended up going through 9 different roommates in two years. As a result, there was never a shortage of people to hang out with. Those houses served as the hosting ground for lots of cookouts, parties, and Thanksgiving dinners, always making sure to force our guests to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with us.
We also had the pleasure of hosting our numerous out of town guests as they come out to see the Bay Area. Hosting has always been one of our favorite things to do. It brings back many memories like bringing people out to Fisherman’s Wharf to watch the sea lions or take in Alcatraz, taking our parents out to see Muir Woods or Stanford and 49er football games, or Mike hobbling across the finish line of the Napa Valley Marathon as he was he given a sheet of aluminum foil to protect himself from the cold Smarch rain.
After 3 years, we decided it was time for Crystal to get some graduate edumacation so we packed up our stuff and moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina so Crystal could pursue her MBA at UNC. We also added two little critters to our household, and now Crystal treats Minny and Soda like her own little children. I’m sure many of you have noticed the proud mama posting pictures of her babies on Facebook. North Carolina was also an interesting time for me as it was my last taste of the bachelor life. Crystal interned for Oscar Mayer in Madison, Wisconsin during the first summer and studied abroad in Hong Kong and traveled to Europe with her mom and sisters the following year. As a result, I reverted to the traditional bachelor diet of frozen pizzas, hot pockets, and mac and cheese. I still like to give her grief about how I was slaving away in the oppressive North Carolina heat while she was off gallivanting around the world, but for as much grief I like to give her, it certainly gave us a renewed appreciation for our time together. It wasn’t all bad though as Mr. Kevin Thornton and I spent many nights at Bailey’s dominating trivia and ingratiating ourselves with the wait staff.
After two years, Crystal graduated and took a full-time job with Oscar Mayer, but I stayed out in North Carolina for a few more months. We had planned for me to move up at the end of the year, so I could get a few more months of work experience before applying to grad school myself and begin my life as a scholar in the mold of Buster Bluth. Although the topic of marriage had been broached numerous times by Crystal (no pressure, of course), I hadn’t really start planning out a proposal until that point. Planning a proposal is not easy. It’s expected that it will be memorable and unique as well as a surprise. At the point we were at in our relationship, Crystal was searching for any sign that a proposal might be forthcoming, but I really wanted to emphasize the surprise element. Giving her the ring during a planned trip or for Christmas would have been way too predictable, so I looked at Thanksgiving week as the best time to make this happen.
We had planned to spend Thanksgiving together and she was going to pick me up from the airport. Little did she know that on the day I was supposed to fly into Milwaukee, I was really driving the eleven hundred miles from North Carolina to Madison with two cats in tow. I was a little concerned that she would take off for the airport immediately after work which would have thrown a bit of a wrench into my plans, so I played the flight delay card to make sure she would head back to the apartment before picking me up. I actually arrived at the apartment around 2 pm to make sure I would beat her home, but as it turned out she stayed at work late. I was hanging around the apartment with the cats going over the proposal in my head while the hours passed. I texted her to see if she was still working and saying my flight was being delayed again.
Finally around 6 pm, I see her car pull into the driveway. I had tied the ring around Soda’s neck thinking she would be the cat most likely to go out and greet someone coming into the apartment. As Crystal opened the door, Soda bolted under the bed while Minny actually jumped on the bed. Crystal walked in and jumped when she saw a cat on the bed. Of course, I had hoped for the cat with the ring to approach her, but with Murphy’s Law in full effect, that of course wasn’t going to happen so I had to improvise. I walked into the room and greeted Crystal then calmly got on my knees and proceeded to yank Soda out from under the bed at which point she saw the ring tied around Soda’s neck and I proposed. She accepted and now she’s stuck with me for the long haul. And now you know the rest of the story.
Note about Crystal’s story: She claims I have bad memory, but I would like to point out that her side of the story contains at least one factual error. I did not have a Minnesota driver’s license at that point. I actually had a Michigan driver’s license. In addition, as mentioned in the story above, I was wearing a polo shirt and khakis, not jeans and a t-shirt. This should call into the question the credibility of her side of the story and give me the decisive advantage in fact finding in any future arguments.