In June of 1998 I was working at a 3-month position doing some programming for a publishing company. I wasn't very busy at the job and had a lot of spare time to kill, so I joined some discussion groups on the internet. One day I was reading one of these groups and saw a message from a woman named Karin who was from Washington, DC . She was planning to take a vacation in San Francisco in July and was looking for recommendations on musical events that she could go to while visiting here. I responded to her email, and we started up an email conversation.
We soon discovered that we had a lot in common, and before we knew it we were exchanging 3 or 4 email messages per day. This went on for almost a month. Both of us were pretty excited about meeting a cool new person, but we both also realized that only a small part of a person's personality comes through over email. Although we were both generally optimistic about the other, we also had some doubts. Karin sent me an email saying that she was afraid that we might meet and not hit it off. I sent her an email back saying that I was sure that we would get along just fine.
A few days before Karin was to arrive I was emailing my friend Doug. He asked me what I was planning on doing that weekend, and I told him that this woman that I met on the internet was going to be visiting.
My trusty 1991 Toyota Tercel totally died about 3 days before I was to pick up Karin, so the day before I picked her up I ended up having to buy a new car.
It was a Friday night when Karin arrived in SF. I drove to the airport in my new car and met her at the gate. Karin and I had exchanged photos a few weeks earlier, so we recognized each other when she got off the plane. We said hello and hugged. Then we got her luggage and drove back to my place. We had a nice leisurely chat in the car.
There was a musical event that we wanted to go to that night, and it was taking place about an hour away. We went to a convenience store to get some snacks for the car ride. We picked out our snacks and stood in line at the check out counter. Karin turns to me, hugs me and then kisses me on the lips. I decided that she liked me.
We got in the car for the hour-long drive. We enjoyed talking to each other, and we were listening to some CDs that I had in the car, too. One of the CDs was "Diversions" by Orbital. When the song "Impact USA" came on, Karin really dug it, so we played it a few times. That quickly became "our song."
The next day, Saturday, we went to Haight Street because Karin wanted to buy a tie-dye shirt. We went into a lot of stores and ended up having an early dinner at Cha Cha Cha, a Carribean restaurant. We ordered a pitcher of sangria and got tipsy. (We're both lightweights when it comes to alcohol.)
On Sunday we decided to spend the day in Golden Gate Park. By this time we were really starting to like each other. That day was a big bonding experience for us. We talked a lot and laughed a lot. After being in the park for a few hours I mentioned to Karin that I was getting hungry. She said that she had an apple in her backpack. I told her that I wasn't in the mood for fruit. I said "I want something like a granola bar, something sweet and nutty. Like you sweet and nutty." She laughed at that one, and that became one of many in jokes that we came up with that week. Then we went over to Sunset Sauna and got massages. (Life is so rough.)
Since my programming contract was nearing its end, and since I had an out-of-town visitor, I only went to work that week on Tuesday and Thursday. I spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday doing touristy things with Karin and doing some job interviews.
Monday morning, as we were eating breakfast, I noticed just how incredibly natural it was to have Karin sharing my life with me. I said to her, "Gee, it's almost like we're married." She happily replied, "I'm glad you noticed." Later on on Monday was when I told Karin that I thought I was falling in love with her.
Monday afternoon I had an interview at Critical Path. While I was being interviewed Karin went shopping for Kerropi items at the Sanrio store downtown. Monday evening we went over to St Johns, where I was meeting up with John and Andy, who needed to look at the space to figure out how they were going to set up their sound system for the party that was coming up on Friday.
Tuesday I went to work. Doug sent me some email that said "So how did it go with what's her name from the internet?" I wrote back and said "She's still here. Need I say more?"
While I was at work on Tuesday, Karin hung out with my friend Susie. Karin told Susie about the yummy places where we had dined (Cha Cha Cha, Ti Couz). Susie said to Karin, "Wow, if he's taking you to those great restaurants, he must really like you!" When Karin told me what Susie said, I told her, "I do like you. But I would have taken you to those same restaurants even if I didn't like it. Regardless of whether I like you or not, I want to have good food."
That night Karin and I took her friend Eliza out to dinner at Postrio's, the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. While we were waiting for Eliza, Karin and I had some drinks at the bar and discovered that we both like girl drinks.
Wednesday was a busy day. In the morning we drove an hour south to Santa Clara to take a tour of the Winchester Mystery House. As we were walking trough the garden there, Karin told me about how her mother and grandmother were really into gardening. After that was lunch at Yahoo. I had had an interview with two people at Yahoo the previous week, and they made me an offer the next day. But I wasn't sure if had a good feel for Yahoo, so I asked them to take me out to lunch with some of the other Yahoo engineers. So Karin and I showed up at Yahoo. They had no idea that I would be bringing someone else. I said to them "This is my girlfriend. She has a Masters of Library Science and may be looking for a job in the Bay Area. Is there someone in HR she can talk with?"
So they took me and Karin out to lunch with some of the Yahoo engineers. They took us to a restaurant that was in this really swanky health club. While we were ordering our lunch, the waiter told me that the restaurant no longer carried the entree that I had ordered. I joked, "This menu option is no longer supported," and Karin quickly responded with, "404: Item not found."
After lunch I talked some more with the engineering hiring manager while Karin talked with someone in HR about the possibility of becoming a cataloger for Yahoo. After Yahoo we headed back towards SF, stopping for a quick exploration of the Stanford campus on the way. Then we had dinner with my friend Francis (who ended up being the Best Man at our wedding, two years later).
Thursday I went to work. After work I had a second interview at Critical Path. They said that they were interested in making an offer and wanted to talk about salary. I told them that I would need the offer by the next day, since I had told Yahoo that I would give them a yes or no about their offer by the following Monday.
When I got home Karin said "Let's take a drive somewhere." So we got in the car and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito. As we were driving we were listening to a mix CD that I had put together of songs from the 80s, and Karin was very excited about this very unique version of Yaz's "Situation" that was on the CD. We wandered around Sausalito under the moonlight.
Friday morning we went to Alcatraz. On the drive over to the ferry, my cell phone rang and Critical Path gave me an offer. There is really nothing cooler than driving around with a hot woman on a sunny day in San Francisco while blowing off work and having companies outbidding each other for you. (Yes, this *was* the dot com boom.) In a period of two weeks I had gotten a new car, a new girlfriend and a new job. Life was good.
That night was the St. Johns party. I was in charge of music and sound for this party. This entailed booking the sound system and all the DJs. Fortunately I had done all that in the weeks before, so I didn't have to do much at the party other than enjoy myself. The music went over really well. I had booked my friend Rus for his first ever DJ gig playing for more than 100 people, and he did a great job. Hanging out at the party with Karin was great. During the week she had met a few of my friends, but at the St. Johns party she met a whole lot of my friends, and she got along well with everyone.
At some point near the peak of the party I told Karin "If I feel about you in six months the way I feel about you right now, I'm going to ask you to marry me." She liked that.
Since we were up pretty late on Friday night we slept in on Saturday. Saturday afternoon we got massages. Saturday night we went out to an Italian restaurant with Rus and his friend Katie. Rus took this incredibly cute picture of me and Karin.
Sunday we went to the Tactile Dome, which is part of the Exploratorium (a hands-on science museum). The Tactile Dome is basically a habitrail for humans, and it's completely dark. You have to feel your way around to go through it. We arrived at the entrance of the Tactile Dome. There was another couple there, and there were also two 8-year-old boys there. The couple went in first. About five minutes later we were told we could enter.
We went through the door and entered a pitch black room. We felt around on the walls and eventually found a hole in the wall that we could crawl through. I put my head in the hole, felt around, and realized that it was a ramp going upwards. Karin and I both wigged out because of the incredible darkness. We weren't able to make ourselves go up the ramp. So after a few minutes we turned around and went back outside into the light. Then the two 8-year-olds very enthusiastically went in. Apparently they had done this many times before and did it whenever they had the chance. Karin and I felt really lame after that.
A few minutes later we were told that we could try again. So we mustered up our courage and re-entered the dark room. Karin started up the ramp first, and I was right behind her. After going two feet up the ramp I got really claustrophobic again and said that I might not be able to do go through with this. Karin was very understanding and said that we could turn around if I wanted to. Then I said that it would be ok for us to move forward if she could just talk to me so that I could hear where she was by the sound of her voice. So that's what we did. Eventually we got to the top of the ramp, and from there on it wasnt so bad. Eventually we were fearlessly going through the passageways of the Tactile Dome, finding all sorts of interesting surprises along the way. And 10 minutes later we found ourselves back in the lobby. We were able to go through the Tactile Dome one more time. The second time it was old hat. We discovered a bunch of things we had missed the first time through.
Sunday night was our last night together. We took a long walk in the Castro, talking about a wide range of topics. I told Karin about a few things that I had been waiting for the right moment to bring up. At one point we sat down on a bench on Castro Street. A very flambouyant gay man walked by and said to Karin: "Cute boyfriend!"
We then went back to my apartment and had a very tearful conversation about what we meant to each other and about the prospects of having to live 3000 miles apart.
Monday morning we woke up early and I drove Karin to the airport. I then went to work, said yes to Critical Path, said no to Yahoo, and gave my current employer two weeks notice.
Karin called on Monday night. She said, "Would it be ok if I moved out there to live with you?" I said yes, and we decided that she would move out to SF in December.
Some pictures of us