Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How We Met... Part 1

I've been reading all the "how we met" posts I've seen and rolling Paul's and my own story over in my head.  Where to start?  The day we met?  But as I typed up the post in my head, the way I do when I'm doing something else but really should just sit down and type, I found myself repeatedly referring back to "before" until I finally settled on just starting a bit earlier to make the story a bit less choppy.  Because apparently, at least in my head, to make sense of the beginning of our relationship you have to know about the chaotic months that led up to it, that made meeting the man of my dreams not exactly convenient when it actually happened:

To understand where I was on the cool September night in Larkspur, California, when I was moments away from being introduced to my future husband, you have to go back to New Years of that same year (the end of 2005/beginning of 2006).  A relationship had ended rather suddenly (and I was the dumpee and not dumper) and I suddenly no longer had plans for the night.  I had sat down with my laptop on my lap, tearful, working a retail job after discovering that my political science degree didn't quite have the job offers rolling in that I'd imagined and trying to figure out what to do next.  For a while after college I'd worked for a non-profit in Berkeley, which fit with my super liberally indoctrinated views, but I couldn't stomach the fact that my job was basically begging people for money (telemarketing for peace!) and while I was good at my job I was exhausted and rapidly becoming disillusioned with the field I'd chosen to study (introverts don't make good telemarketers).

So I began to cruise around the internet looking at various sites and I finally landed on the CIA's page.  There was an online application.  

I sat there for a moment, staring at the screen through my blurring eyes and then began to type.  I remember being a bit jovial, a bit over the top and slightly sarcastic.  You know the snarky posts that sometimes slip through here when I'm not in the greatest mood?  This was kind of like that.  I was having a bad day.  And then a little before midnight, I'd just applied for a job with the CIA's clandestine services.

While I'd dreamed of being a spy when I was a kid and had played spies with my best friend who now lived in the same apartment complex when we were eight (and nine, and ten, and eleven) it wasn't something I'd seriously considered after completing a degree where I could receive credit in classes for going to anti-war demonstrations and volunteering at Planned Parenthood.

When I sent off that application and settled onto my futon to drift off to sleep that night I didn't expect to hear anything back about it.

Almost a month and a half later I did.  Late in the evening a man called me to set up an interview.  An interview? I'd thought.  For what?  I hadn't applied to a job in quite some time and was now looking at graduate school opportunities.  I didn't say it out loud though, because I was trying not to look like an idiot.  We set up a phone interview for the next day and as I hung up the phone I thought: CIA.  That was the CIA.

Okay, apparently it's really
hard to find pictures of myself
on the computer that are from
before I met Paul.
So I'll settle for pictures in which
I'm at least not holding a baby
since I'm saving my
"Paul and Me Dating"
pics for the next post.
The months that followed were a whirlwind.  I had the phone interview on Valentine's Day.  I pretty much bombed it.  Do you know who the director of the CIA is, the man asked.  No.  In fact, I didn't know much.  I could try to make something up, I said to a few questions, but we'd both know it was BS, so there's not much point, is there?  I'd blown it, I knew.  But at the end of the conversation he said he was sending me through and hoped I wouldn't embarrass him.  I was suddenly determined not to.

I read a dozen books that he recommended and started to actually get excited about the idea of working for the CIA.  As I read and studied and scanned news sites every night I felt my world view beginning to shift.

A packet arrived.  I wrote essays and sent them back.  Then came an actual meeting in a building in San Francisco.  It was a meet and greet info session at a hotel with a room full of people in suits and an interview the next day.

I moved on to the next level.  I was on my way to DC for more interviews.  I got there with instructions not to show anyone my paper work... but the first address of the first interview was wrong.  My car suddenly had guys with guns surrounding it.  I wasn't on the list.  Social security number.  Last  four digits.  First three.  Last four.  Middle two.  Last four.  The gun was right there inches from my window.  Definitely not on the list.  Can I see your paper work?

Behind my huge sunglasses my eyes were almost filling with tears when I said:  "I don't think your authorized to see my paper work" in my snottiest (trying not to cry) voice.  And then?  He started to laugh.  He called someone.  Here you go.  Here's the new address.  Go down this street and turn right.  Your interview is there.

The interview went well.  There was a battery of tests.  I met with a psychologist who told me that if I didn't become I spy I should become a writer because she'd enjoyed my essays.  And then came a packet in the mail.  I'd been hired, or more specifically given a "conditional offer of employment".  I needed to go back for security tests.

I flew back from DC for the polygraph and physical tests.  I had a boyfriend by then, who said something about it being over if I went and I went anyway.  It wasn't a hard choice.  The polygraph was horrible.  Worse than my nightmare labor with Sadie?  Possibly.  I had an EKG and physical.  Did I have a boyfriend they needed to look into?  Not after this, I'd written.  And then back on a plane.  Home to wait.

The boyfriend and I broke up.  And one of my best friends, who now lived a few hours away came to cheer me up.  I was still working the dead end job, although there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  "Let's go out tonight" she'd said.  There was a guy she'd met and she wanted me to meet him.  She and another of my friends and I headed across the bay to Marin to the brewery that he worked at.  And on the way she started to talk about her new not-yet boyfriend's friend/coworker.  "He's just your type" she said over and over again.  And it just so happened that he was working as a doorman that very night.

And that's when I realized that I was being set up.
Okay.... I'll show one picture from the next post!

Sure, I'd said.  Why not?  What are the chances that it will work out?  I wasn't supposed to leave for the job until May and it was the end of September.  Besides, I was nothing if not deep down, a hopeless romantic.  Even if the timing was far from perfect and totally didn't fit with my newly imagined glamorous jet setting five year plan (since I'd been told I'd likely be spending 80% of my career overseas) I just had to know... who was this guy who was "perfect" for me?

Okay so that was a bit longer than I intended on the rambling about the months that led up to how we met... but... from here things will just fly by (I hope).  Because a whirlwind romance was about to begin... and all my carefully laid plans were about to fly out the window.  Part 2 is finally here!  And of course I'm linking the whole thing up with Camp Patton's How We Met Link-up!

1 comment:

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