Friday, June 08, 2007

My Secret

The first time I saw her, I was awestruck. As I watched her enter the room, it was as if everyone else in it had ceased to exist. The person to my left had been in the middle of a story, but her words suddenly seemed nothing more than a faint buzzing an immeasurable distance away. I lost sight of her when she sat at her table - which turned out to be a blessing as I would never have been able to pay attention were she in my line of sight.

Soon enough we did a quick exercise that required us to change tables. For whatever reason, the person next to me asked me to switch pieces of candy with her, and being a gentleman, I did. I turned out that those candies were then used to determine our new seating arrangements and, as luck would have it, the person that took my candy wound up sitting at the table with the woman who had intrigued me so. Frankly, I’ve never quite forgiven her for that.

Later, those of us that were new to the organization were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves. I scarcely remember what I said, so worried was I about making an impression on her. I sat down again and spend the remainder of the day thinking of ways to introduce myself.

When we broke for lunch, I asked someone the name of the woman that had so captivated me, and when I was told, I couldn’t believe that this was the same person whose voice had so enraptured me on the phone the first time we’d spoken, and who I made sure to call when a problem arose every time thereafter.

I tried to meet her during lunch, but I got sidetracked by an overly chatty co-worker. I went back to the office afterwards, only to learn that she had taken advantage of the early departure granted by our boss and went home to prepare for our holiday party that was scheduled to take place that evening. Rather than sit in my hotel room, I drove to the beach and looked upon the ocean until sunset, counting the moments until I could see this woman again.

After an eternity, the day passed and I was at the Aquarium awaiting her entrance. I made small talk with my co-workers, but my eyes kept drifting back to the door. When she did enter, she once again became the only person in the room to me. So much so, in fact, that I initially failed to notice the gentleman accompanying her. When I did see him, I masked my disappointment by excusing myself from my current conversation and getting a drink from the bar.

I tried to remain occupied, but still I couldn’t keep myself from glancing over at her. Finally, I worked up the courage to speak with her, and she immediately began to apologize for an issue that had occurred during our first telephone conversation. Frankly, I’d forgotten all about it as it hadn’t been a big deal in the first place, but I continued to talk to her about it because I didn’t want our conversation to end. It was as if being away from her would be akin to being allowed into heaven for a minute only to be cast back down to earth.

Still, out of respect for the man by her side, I tore myself away. Throughout the night I kept finding my way over to her and soon everyone knew that I was enraptured. They even began to tease her about it. For my part, I made friends with the man that had escorted her to the event . I was surprised to find that I wasn’t jealous because, somehow, the fact that she was happy was the only thing that mattered. I didn’t care who made her happy – whether it be me or someone else – only that she was happy enough to laugh so that I could see her beautiful smile as it lit up the room. A few days later, I learned that the man with her was nothing more than a friend that had agreed to take her to the party. I wish I’d known that from the beginning.

As the night drew to a close, I spend every possible moment by her side. When the time came to leave, I watched her walk out the door with a mixture of regret and longing. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. So much so, in fact, that another woman offered to come back to my room that night and I turned her down because all I wanted to do was replay that evening in my head and figure out a way to get to know this woman.

Upon my return to NYC and my office, I wrote an email to AMG telling her how much I enjoyed meeting her. She failed to respond.

Two days later – much to my surprise – she wrote back. Her son had been sick and she’d been out of work for a few days. We began to correspond and then to talk on the phone and then, well, I fell in love with her. As I suspected, she is the most amazing woman in the world. Funny and smart and humble. Strong yet vulnerable. Beautiful in every sense of the word. She’s a wonderful mother and daughter and a good friend. My best friend, in fact. And the more I get to know her, the more I love her. And the longer I know her, the more difficult and endless each moment apart from her becomes.

You know her as SSC. I know her as my other half.