As I've noted before, the 1st of May is not exactly Kam's and my anniversary, but it's the anniversary of a certain Beltane on the beach in 1992 that I associate with her.
And I've been meaning for a long time now to do a series of "how I met [person X]" entries. And I've apparently never posted the story of how I met Kam.
So even though I'm barely awake, I'm gonna write that up.
I spent a year after graduation working in a computer lab at Swarthmore; then attended Clarion West; then in the summer of 1991 I moved back to California, the only place I'd ever been where I could stand the weather year-'round. I became housemates with my high-school friend Arthur E, and occasionally saw other high-school-and-earlier friends, notably Sarah L, and I saw F&E in San Francisco now and then, but by early '92 I was feeling generally like I hadn't really developed a social life since I got home.
Over the first couple of months of '92, Sarah kept telling me I should meet her friend Kristen, whom she'd met at Pomona (Kristen went to Harvey Mudd), and who had grown up in Palo Alto but had gone to a different high school. I was interested in meeting her, but it never seemed to happen.
The night of Saturday, March 21, 1992, I tagged along with Arthur to a housewarming party for a high school friend of ours, Chris W. I was, as usual, uncomfortable at the party; I didn't know anybody but Arthur and Mykle and Chris. Chris's housemates were the only people I didn't know who spoke to me, except for an attractive woman named Kristi, who said hello and asked my connection with the group when I walked in; with my usual sparkling repartee, I replied, "Chris," pointing to Chris, and left it at that.
I spent most of the party in the living room listening to Mykle and a wonderful mandolin player playing music. At one point Kristi wandered in and sat down near me; but just as I figured out that I could actually engage her in conversation (gasp!), she got up and walked away. In the car on the way home, I was kind of morose, thinking that I'd blown my one chance at social interaction at the party; but I figured I'd never see Kristi again so it didn't really matter. Still, I wondered who she was.
The following Friday night, the night before my birthday, Sarah suggested that we go get some dinner, and then go to a movie with her friend Kristen. I said sure. We got to Kristen's place and (surprise, surprise) there was someone who looked awfully familiar. . . . But I wasn't entirely sure. I asked her, "Weren't you at Chris W's party last weekend?" She said, "No, but you look familiar too. . . ." and we sat down to, unsuccessfully, play "where do I know you from?"
It was only an hour later (on the way to see Fried Green Tomatoes) that we figured out that she'd been to Barnaby's party—Barnaby being one of Chris's new housemates. She didn't know Chris at all and didn't know his last name. . . . She knew Barnaby from a high school stage tech context where she'd been known as Kristi.
(And it turned out that she was working at a place that designed exhibits for science museums—a place where Ranjit B had previously worked. Small small world.)
Anyway, she and I hit it off immediately; I'd been hanging out mostly with people like my then-coworkers, who didn't really share any of my interests, so I was delighted to meet (as I noted in email to a friend at the time—that email is also the source of much of the above) "someone to whom I can say 'Elfquest' and not get a blank look in return."
(For those who are saying "But wait, what does any of this have to do with Kam?" the answer is that some years later, Kristen changed her name to Kam.)
In subsequent years, when I've told this story, Kam has said that part of the confusion was because I had cut off my hair during the week between our first and second meetings, making it hard for her to recognize me. I've always wondered if that was really true, 'cause the timing didn't seem quite right. I think I've now finally pretty firmly established that I didn't get that haircut (going from past-shoulder-length to short, plus shaving off my beard) until sometime in the week after the movie outing, 'cause the haircut was when Bhadrika was visiting, and the aforementioned email indicates that I picked up Bhadrika at the airport the next day, the 28th. But it's possible that I mixed up the dates.
At any rate, I think this episode was what led me to my theory that with the really important people, you get a second chance. I mean, sure, there may well be people who I never got a second chance with who would have been important to me if I'd taken the first chance. But the second-chance theory is comforting, and Kam isn't the only instance of that happening in my life.
But those are other stories for other times.
Anyway, I guess the main point of this entry is really that I'm happy and grateful to still have Kam in my life after all these years. Thanks to Sarah for introducing us—and to Arthur for taking me to that party.