Sunday, September 19, 2010

When Mommy Met Daddy

Dear Scarlett,
Today Dad and I are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, and I thought I would mark the occasion by telling you the story of how we met.

At the beginning of 2005, I was working as the marketing manager for a publishing company in Emeryville, California, across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. I lived in Hayes Valley in a small studio, slept on a futon, and watched movies from the neighborhood video store on a hand-me-down VCR.

Your Dad had recently moved to New York from Chicago, to take a job as the publisher of a magazine about book publishing. He had sold his BMW (something he doesn't like to discuss) and his apartment in Lincoln Park, and was living in a corporate studio in Midtown Manhattan with his 2 cats.

Part of my job was to meet with sales reps who wanted my company to advertise in their magazines, and one of the most memorable people I had to meet with was a man we'll call Ray. I liked Ray; he was friendly and not too pushy. In fact, I often felt bad for him, because we only ever advertised in his magazine once a year, and we would continue to do that no matter how many times Ray called or visited me. Ray had a distinctive, nasal New York accent, and always said the exact same thing when he called. "Hellloooo Sarah." One day he called and told me he had a new boss and he wanted to bring him to a meeting in my office. It would be a different kind of meeting than Ray and I usually had; those consisted of Ray sitting across from my cubicle desk and telling me about the new things happening with the magazine, while I nodded politely and surreptitiously watched the clock.

When Ray arrived, the receptionist called me and I went out to meet him. He had with him a tall, good looking man in a suit, and I led them both back to the conference room. My boss, Donna, and I sat on one side of the table, and Ray and your Dad sat on the other. Your Dad did most of the talking, and I suppose I listened to what he said at the time, but I recall thinking not about what he was saying, but about the fact that he had great hair, no wedding ring, and a nice smile. After we talked about the business, we started chatting generally and I found out Dad had lived in Chicago for 10 years. I felt like there was something I recognized about him--not that I actually had met him before, but there was a Midwestern-ness to him that was familiar and comfortable. I liked him. I guess I liked him a lot. I walked out of the meeting to get a business card (I am still horrible about remembering to carry those), and I ran into Krista R at the copy machine. She was a publicist in the office and one of my best friends. "I just met the man I'm going to marry," I blurted to her, and then continued on my way. "Whaaat?" I heard her saying behind me. Though I am prone to hyperbole, I can assure you that I had never made that proclamation before, about anyone.

Dad and I exchanged brief "thanks for the meeting" emails, and life went on. The next month, I went to New York for the New York Times Travel Show. I had an author speaking and would be in town for a few days. I was traveling with our CEO and one of our sales people, and the three of us stopped at a publishing party one evening before dinner. I didn't know many people and was content to stick close to Keith, my friend in sales, until I saw your Dad standing by the stairs. Without giving it much thought, I walked up to him, interrupting a conversation he was having with two women. I asked if he remembered me. We ended up talking for a long time, probably about work, but he gave me his card and this time wrote his cell phone number on it. We said good night and I walked back to Keith, who looked at me, laughed, and said "What was THAT?"

We actually exchanged messages that week and I invited him to stop by the travel show, but he didn't show up. I decided he probably had a girlfriend or just wasn't interested, but I still had a funny feeling about him and wasn't ready to write him off entirely. The following month he returned with Ray and their new Editor-in-Chief to tell us more exciting things about the magazine we still weren't going to spend many ad dollars on. Our President sat in on this meeting and I got a pedicure and put a little more care than usual into my outfit. Dad's magazine was throwing a party that night, but I wasn't going to go. When he asked me why, I told him I had a salsa dance class (this was true). Secretly, I was still a tiny bit miffed that he had blown me off in New York, and I didn't feel like making things easy for him.

We continued emailing infrequently, and one day Dad wrote to ask me what I thought of the news about Ray. I picked up the phone and called him for the first time. I had just moved into my own office, and so I had some privacy. "What news?" I asked. Dad told me that Ray was no longer with the magazine. I was sorry for Ray, but happy for the excuse to talk. I was such a girl--I analyzed Dad's email messages, trying to figure out his intentions, while he probably just continued his life in New York without giving me too much thought.

We found ourselves in New York at a party together again in June. Towards the end, Dad was gathering a group to go to dinner, and he invited me, Krista and Keith. We were a group of 9 and we went to Haru, a sushi restaurant. I sat next to Dad, and he says I kept putting my hand on his knee to illustrate my points, but I think he's exaggerating. Krista overheard two of Dad's coworkers whispering behind a menu. "We might be witnessing history in the making," one of them said to the other, looking at me and Dad.

I was in town for an annual book convention, so I saw Dad every day, and we met up at yet another party that Saturday night. This time, Dad's coworker and friend Hannah came up to me and said, "Rob has a crush on you." This was good news; Dad was being so enigmatic around me that I couldn't tell if he was interested or just a friendly guy.

We went out that night after the party with a big group and everyone seemed intent on getting me and Dad together, to the point where we found ourselves sharing a seat in the bar because--oops--there were no other seats available. We walked out together that night and he kissed me goodbye. Then we kept talking and he kissed me goodbye again. The same thing happened once more, but then a cockroach landed on Dad's suit and kind of ended the moment. I have never again seen a cockroach land on someone, even after years of living in New York City. We parted ways.

The next night we went on our first date, just the two of us. We met at the apartment he had just moved into, the apartment I would live in for 4 years, the apartment where you spent your first months in my belly. He took me to dinner at Bottino, and I liked him. A lot. So I married him. Which is another story for another time.