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The First Anniversary

This weekend marks one year of many more to come spent with the most incredible man I've ever met. I always wanted to have a cute and clever love story to tell, and I'm ecstatic to say that in him I have found a better tale than any romantic comedy writer could come up with.

My previous marriage was over with the exception of some paperwork to be filed and fees to be paid. I had finally reached a point in my life where I felt I was really better off alone, taking myself on dates to the luxury movie theater, going to my favorite restaurants, spending time with myself doing the things I wanted to do.

One of those things was jumping into the world of programming. Things hadn't worked out with the guy I'd been sort-of-seeing, but to his credit, he made me believe that I was indeed smart enough to learn to code. He'd always mention his boss, Ben Deane, and what a great resource he and his frequent engineering talks were for the novice programmer. "When Ben Deane talks, you should definitely listen," he told me.

That year at BlizzCon was the first ever engineering panel, where Blizzard engineers from all different teams gathered to talk about what it is they do. It was a rather informal setting with the interested community gathered around on soft benches and wouldn't be officially recorded like the other panels at the convention. I'd heard that Ben would be one of the speakers and, with the advice ringing in my ears, I decided to give it a look. I remember seeing him walk onstage and thinking "Wow, that's a cute ginger." I was impressed by his knowledge and his demeanor, simultaneously authoritative on the subject about which he was speaking and completely approachable. I'll have to remember this one for sure, I thought to myself.

After BlizzCon had come and gone, it was as if the entire company had suddenly decided to try wingman-ing Ben to me. I was repeatedly told to talk to Ben, to go to his talks whenever he'd give them at work. A couple of months later, I got an email that Ben would be delivering a talk on C++ called Using Types Effectively, and that signups were open. Finally, another chance to learn from someone who clearly knew what they were talking about!

There was a minor hiccup in that my job title didn't have "engineer" in it, so I had to get special permission to attend, which, fortunately, was granted. On the day of the talk I was very nervous strolling through the doors of the auditorium -- I was the only non-engineer there, and the only woman. I hid in the far left corner of the back row where I thought nobody would notice me and prepared to take notes.

When Ben started his talk, I was completely enamored. Though I had scant experience with C++ at the time, he managed to still make the concepts he was explaining accessible to me. Again, I found myself daydreaming about how handsome and intelligent he was. But he'd never give someone like me the time of day, I'm sure.

I had no idea that at the same time I was convincing myself there was no chance of even a mentor-type relationship with Ben, he had noticed a cute girl hiding in the back row and was thinking She's really pretty and interested in code, but she'd probably never want to go out with a nerd like me.

So imagine my surprise when a couple of weeks later, I got a notification on Twitter that the object of my nerd crush had sent me a message.

(As a side note, he still feels bad that he asked me out over Twitter. I keep telling him it was actually the best move he could've made -- if he'd just shown up at my desk to ask me in person, that'd be a bit inappropriate. If he'd sent me an email, it would've had to be via my work address, since that's the only one he knew, which also would've been weird. And God forbid he'd asked someone for my number and then surprise-texted me without us having spoken to each other before. A polite inquiry via a social media platform on which I'm extremely active? Perfectly appropriate and non-threatening.)

I figured that maybe my manager had said something to him about my wanting to move into an engineering role and that he was offering me a business lunch, maybe letting me know about an opportunity on his team I should apply for. It was, apparently, our first date. In retrospect, I'm glad I didn't know, because I almost certainly would have put my foot in my mouth and said something ridiculous. I walked back to my office after that lunch thinking I had totally nailed that interview. Technically, I did -- it was just a different sort of interview than I expected.

He asked me out for an official date the very next day. After screaming with my best friend for an hour or so, she convinced me to stop telling myself I was going to screw everything up and accept. That first date was like something out of a dream; we had dinner at a restaurant that we were both delighted to find out was each other's favorite, walked around the lake and looked at the stars, browsed in a bookshop (again, mutual delight that we were both bibliophiles), saw a movie. We found out that we'd previously worked just a couple of doors down from each other, never crossing paths until recently, and marveled at yet another coincidence in our meeting.

The concept of love at first sight is rather overplayed. For me, it was love at first kiss. I knew by the end of that first night that I loved him, and it turns out he loved me, too, and still loves me to this day.

He's continued to stand by me throughout my illness, cared for me after multiple surgeries, supported my changing careers to pursue what I was really passionate about. What began as sheer happenstance putting us on each other's radar has turned into a happier life than either of us could have imagined.

I'm still useless with C++, though.


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