He was born on a small island in the south Pacific, in the shadow of a radar, near fish infused with “beep beep”. I was born in the desert, not far from a cactus and a multitude of “snow birds” infused with, well, age.
He loved riding his dirt bike, I loved playing the piano.
He had several pet snakes, I had several pet hamsters [named after space objects, like “Cassini” and “Calista”].
We both loved God, but he was a Baptist, and I was a Catholic.
He went to college in Florida, I went to college in Arizona. But we both aspired to be Aerospace Engineers. [And now we are!]
He needed a summer job, and I needed an escape.
Space Camp brought us together.
Unlikely? Yes. Nerdy to the max? Extremely. Fate? No doubt.
We realized that summer that we were the perfect match, but neither of us knew what to do about it. I mean, Florida and Arizona aren’t exactly close. And were a few months of summer work together enough to start a full-fledged relationship thousands of miles apart? We weren’t sure. In fact at the end of the summer just before I was to head back to Arizona we had a chat. You know, one of “those” chats. “Maybe we should just be long distance friends.” “I don’t know how a relationship would last with such a distance.” “We can just see what happens.”
And at that moment, we had absolutely no idea our two, very distant worlds would ever be the same.
We both invested in webcams and set up accounts on Skype. Sometimes we would turn on the cameras and just do normal, everyday things, mostly homework since we were both in college at the time. Many times we would go long spans without saying a word, but just seeing the other person and pretending our relationship was local really helped.
And the advantages of all this?
A perfectly balanced life with the ability to focus on college. I’m almost positive that if we had been physically together throughout our college career, it would have been extremely difficult to stay focused. I don’t know how many of you out there have an Aerospace Engineering degree, but let me tell ya, it ain’t easy, at least not for me.
A requirement of communication. This is not to say that we were forced beyond our natural abilities to communicate with each. Rather, the necessity of it created experts out of us. We were able to tell just by a tone of voice, with no accompanied facial expressions, when something was not quite right. And to this day we exercise our highly refined communication skills. We never let the other person "stew" about something or go to bed upset. It is much better if we just lay it all out there and work together on a solution. Talking also gave us an opportunity to learn so much about each other. I'm pretty sure we would rock the newlywed game!
We learned to appreciate the little time we did have together during mini trips to Arizona, Florida, or Alabama. Every moment counted, and we tried to fill the moments with as many memories as they would hold. Even if the memories weren't especially remarkable, they were so precious...they had to hold us until the next time we could see each other! Even now we are sensitive to times when we are able to hang out whether its just a lazy night with the animals or visiting relatives at the hospital.
Now that we have molded our relationship from college kids to engaged, I can't imagine it any other way. Of course there were times when I would have given anything to just have Chris "in the real life" to talk to, console, or vent to, but in general his willingness to provide those services from thousands of miles away was a testament to his undeniable love.
Sometimes love is more powerful when it is hard, when it takes work, when it seems almost impossible. That's when you really know you have found your soul mate.