24 12 2011

With thanks to Timothy for the idea and many more thanks for his continual kindness toward me.

Never is an intolerable word. To a scientist it is blasphemy. To me it was a challenge.

Genetics was not then the flourishing field it is now. When I walked away from school with my PhD I decided to venture into the highly experimental field of animal genetics. My motivation was a combination of genuine academic curiosity and rebellion. At the time there was no glamour or respectability associated with the study of genetics. Especially in regards to animals rather than people.

I’d been a good kid all growing up. Respectable, bookish, without attraction or charm but with more brains than my teachers knew what to do with. Even in my post-graduate work my professors largely left me alone to do my own work. Mousy looks and painful shyness ruled me out for extra attention. Of course, I didn’t mind. At a young age I’d accepted my lack of glamour and over the years I began to embrace it. My life was molded around study and academia; my isolation was purposeful.

My colleagues will tell you that I was anti-social, devoted to my Project. They aren’t wrong. But that isn’t the whole story.
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21 12 2011

We met on an elevator at work, of all places. I actually made a real effort NOT to notice him because I couldn’t bear having to tell my mother that I met a guy on an elevator. Mom has very specific ideas about dating and none of those ideas involve elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks or even the bus. As best I can figure she only approves of men that her daughters meet at cocktail parties or in line at the DMV. She’s nothing if not whimsical.

Point being, it was my third day of work. My arms were full of paperwork and a small bunch of flowers for my cubicle. I felt him try and make eye contact but I purposefully didn’t notice. I squared up my shoulders and resolve and promised myself I would not engage in conversation.

Of course, I underestimated James.

To this day he claims he didn’t do it on purpose. As the elevator started moving he pushed my elbow and my armful of papers and flowers fell to the ground. We both stooped to pick them up and I found myself staring right into the most perfect eyes ever made.

“I am so sorry!” He efficiently gathered my stuff and stood, still holding the pile. “Please accept my apology.”

More than a little flummoxed I smiled but said nothing.

“I’m James.” He holding the my papers carefully but made a move to hand them back. The elevator’s sudden stop knocked the flowers off the top of the pile. He handed me my papers then snatched up the posy.

It was my floor. I smiled again and reached out a hand for the flowers. “I’m Sarah.”

I left the elevator quickly, embarrassed somehow by the encounter.

It took me twenty minutes to get my mind back on my work that day. According to James it took HIM two hours.

For the next three months we rode the elevator together every morning. After two weeks I had figured out that he left much later than I. As a low-level programmer my shifts at the start-up software company were vastly different from James law-career-induced hours.

But we saw each other every morning. Exchanging a smile and maybe a few words. Once he brought a coffee that he claimed was “extra”. I took it and couldn’t bear to tell him that I never drank the stuff. The gesture was too kind for honesty. Read the rest of this entry »