Here’s the second part of my pre-birthday look back at how the past 20 years have gotten me to where I am now. You can find part 1 here; part 3 will be up soon.
Eight years ago it was 2004, and a lot of big stuff was about to happen that year.
I surprised even myself by volunteering to join the small core of PuzzleDay leads. Guess who else was on that core group? Hint: I’m married to him now.
Come April, Office 2004 for Macintosh would finally be released to manufacturing. I’d been pouring a lot of effort into work that spring, and it was reflected in my performance reviews. Just for fun, I put a big gold star on my office door like a Hollywood starlet.
That summer I’d face for the first time the tough decision to put one of our two ferrets to sleep. I’d never lost a pet before, and it was very, very hard on me. On both me and my then-husband, I think, but instead of bringing us together, it was the first step of the eventual end of the marriage.
In the fall, a few of my friends and I would form a team to play in my first driving Game, Shinteki:Untamed. The four-person team we assembled is still together, with the addition of a few others to come later.
In December, I would make another tough decision: I asked my soon-to-be-ex-husband for a trial separation.
Seven years ago it was 2005, and perhaps one of the most pivotal periods in my life to date.
For my birthday, one of my PuzzleDay co-leads invited me to join him and some of our friends to play remotely in that year’s weekend-long MIT Mystery Hunt. Sometime late Friday night, I walked out of our conference room for a few minutes and returned to find he’d arranged for a birthday cake for me. I got an inkling that there might be some mutual attraction.
I moved into my very first all-my-own apartment. My ex and I filed for divorce. It would be officially a done deal just eight months later.
I started dating the aforementioned PuzzleDay co-lead.
That summer I would run one leg of a marathon relay, along with my sisters and mom. My new boyfriend and I ran Bay to Breakers too. That ended up being the last time I did any significant running, either competitively or just for myself.
In August I would play in my first full-length Game, with my teammates from Shinteki and two other guys. One of them later moved to Germany, and the other is the fifth member of our current Game team.
In October, I’d sign the papers and hand over a great big change, in exchange for the keys and deed to a cute little condo in Kirkland.
Five years ago in 2007, I kicked off the year by moving out of that cute little condo and into my boyfriend’s house. I had some reluctance doing so because I sure loved that condo, but it seemed like the right move for us at the time. I would eventually sell it in November for a very nice profit, just as the housing bubble was starting to collapse.
While sorting through papers, I found my friend Julia’s email address, and wrote to her hoping to rekindle our friendship. One of the first things I learned was that she’d been diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer the previous December in spite of never smoking a cigarette in her life.
In April my boyfriend and I would go on a Carribean cruise. It had seemed like the perfect opportunity for him to propose marriage, and I found myself a little disappointed when he didn’t. Little did I know that in May, he’d scheme with the organizers of another Game to make the first event a marriage proposal instead of a puzzle. I remembered to say yes.
November would find us running Microsoft Puzzlehunt 11.0. This wasn’t just for interns, but for anyone who could put together a 12-person team that contained at least six Microsoft employees. I wrote a choose your own adventure type installation puzzle that sent people roaming through a huge underground parking garage. It was awesome.
Four years ago it was 2008. In March, my moments-away-husband and I would stand up in front of dozens of our friends and family members and vow that this time around, we’d do it right. (So far: success.)
My friend Julia wouldn’t be able to make it to our wedding, as her cancer was getting the upper hand. I’d find out at the end of May that she’d died a few days earlier. How can it be possibel to miss someone so much when you haven’t seen then in twenty years? Even now I still get a little teary-eyed remembering her.
In October we’d get a little plus sign on a little pink stick. (So would my sister, although hers happened a couple months earlier that year.) Life was about to change again.