Thursday, May 26, 2011

Prepare for landing!

With just under 30 hours to go until the big moment, it's about time to wrap up this story time. Of course, there are so many stories that we could additionally share with you. While we are about to land this particular "courting" plane, the "married" plane will take off after a short layover in the beautiful redwoods at Nestldown.

But before we head for the final descent, I wanted to share one more anecdote with you.

In a relationship, once a guy or a gal gets to that moment of thinking "I love you," the question becomes "when do I say it?" I'll never forget the first time that Kim told me that she loved me. She was in India at the time and I was in San Francisco. I was in my apartment when the phone rang. Unfortunately I didn't hear it ring so it went to voicemail. When I did discover that I had a message, I heard the following:

"Hey babe, just thought I'd try to catch you before *crr* *sss* out later *acc.* Hope you have *crrr* later. Maybe we can *ssssss*. Love you, bye!"

Sometimes Skype doesn't work so well, but there was no mistaking those last three words. Love you, bye. I couldn't help but smile at the fact that we had become so familiar with each other that I had just received the typical family "end of message."

Kim caught her mistake and as soon as she called me back, she was quick to say "Don't worry about that voicemail, you can just delete it." But the cat was out of the bag. Love was definitely in the air. Not too long after that, on her next visit back to the states, I told her that I loved her. She was so surprised that it took her a day to return the sentiment. But that's a story for another time.

And just a year after those very first official "I love yous," within days of Kim returning from India, I got down on my knee and asked Kim if she'd accept my love for the rest of her life. Tomorrow, we will all celebrate that love together. Can't wait to see you all there!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

*Ding* Ladies and Gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the seat belt sign

No journey would be complete without a little bit of turbulence. And while Ben and I have been fortunate to have pretty smooth sailing, all things considered, there was one night/morning while I was in India that we had a bit of miscommunication.

It was his morning and my evening when we had agreed to chat later that night when I got home (see, Ande, I think we DID plan phone dates occasionally…but Ben sees it differently, as this story will explain). He clearly didn't remember that agreement because while I waited up waaay past my bedtime (and that’s late!) to get a text from him saying he was ready to chat, I didn't receive one until I could barely keep my eyes open anymore saying "hanging out with the guys -- talk to you tomorrow!" (the time difference was about 12 hours).

Since I was already in that loopy stage of tired, I typed up a snippy response and went to sleep. The next morning, I woke up and hoped that I hadn’t actually sent the response, as I realized it was pretty childish. But, when I ran to the phone and checked my sent messages, sure enough, this was sitting there in my outbox:

"Oh. Well I just stayed up late thinking that we were going to talk tonight. But I guess not. Whatevs."

Whatevs. Nice, Kim. Very mature. That's what I left Ben to ponder for the rest of his night with his friends. Text messaging isn't always the best for communicating emotion, but Ben certainly got the picture and later told me that he was quite nervous about what I was going to say when we did get the chance to talk the next morning. I, of course, was completely embarrassed. Fortunately, he diffused the situation pretty well (as he does) when we got on the phone by saying, amidst his apology for the miscommunication, "Whatevs? Really? That was pretty funny." To this day, whenever we start to get a little snippy, one of us will simply chime in "Whatevs," and that seems to break the tension quite nicely.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Speaking of turbulence, Kim is working on a post to tell you about one of our turbulent moments while in India, but alas, we have hit a bit of turbulence now just five days before the wedding as Kim has come down with a cold! So our apologies for pressing pause on this blog as we make sure Kim gets better for the big day Friday. Can't wait to see you all...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Drink and a snack?

Ok, some titles of these posts can't quite fit the model that we've established thus far. This is one such post!

But anyway, when we first started hanging out in January, 2008, I knew Kim was planning to work in India for a year, come that fall. I honestly had no idea what our relationship would be like at that time and as such, we agreed in February that we would just enjoy each other's company and keep hanging out as long as it felt like the right thing to do. In many ways, this "day by day" approach really helped us make sure that we never got too far ahead of ourselves with respect to expectations in the relationship.

Of course, then September came. And we were facing the fact that we really were quite attached to each other. So the idea of splitting up sounded completely awful and certainly not the right thing to do! We decided we would try the EXTREME long-distance thing and we would continue to take the relationship one day at a time, trying in earnest to be completely honest with each other as to how we were being impacted by that amount of distance. Admittedly, I was skeptical that we could continue to grow closer and closer despite the long distance! But the day finally came when she had to leave. It was September 29, 2008. And I was choking up at the airport as I waved goodbye. Interesting tidbit for those of you who follow the stock market, the Dow dropped 778 points that day. Coincidence? I think not. Kim Whittaker was leaving the country and we all felt the impact.

Luckily, for us, several things played in our favor once Kim was abroad. My phone seemed to be the ONLY one Kim could send to or receive texts from in the States, which made it much more easy to connect via phone or Skype. In fact, in the entire time Kim spent in India, we never once set up an official "phone date." Also, Skype had improved tenfold from even just a year before, making it possible even to SEE each other while we chatted as long as there was electricity in Kim's apartment. And I had plenty of frequent flier miles from my old job such that we were able to see each other every three months.

Still, there was some turbulence that we had to get through, but that story is for another time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cruising at an Altitude of 30,000 Feet

Early on in our friendship, before any official dates, Ben had asked if I’d like to join him in Paris for a weekend before he had to work at a trade show. All the usual concerns came to mind, but when I asked my supervisor about taking a day off for such a trip she told me that if I didn’t go, she’d fail me. She didn’t have to tell me twice.

Since we had both done the touristy thing in Paris before, we spent most of the weekend enjoying the sidewalk cafes and long conversations. I did manage to get Ben up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, though, which was one activity he had missed on previous visits. Another highlight was when Ben basically told me, as he does, that I was his girlfriend. Okay, it was more like “hey, so, I’m not planning to see anyone else. It’s cool if you do, but you’re the only one I want to see. And I’m going to call you my girlfriend, but you don’t have to call me your boyfriend.” “See,” for those who may be wondering, is the same as date-apparently.

Now, I had just assumed this about us-that we were only dating each other. My bad. Ben has certainly taught me a lot – especially about being more direct in my communication!

Friday, May 6, 2011

You may now turn on your electronic devices

Before getting to the story of our first date, I would like to make a special shout out to the iPhone for its role in Kim and I becoming an item.

As Kim mentioned, one of the key conversations with respect to her decision to come to San Francisco came via text message. Here's a little secret -- before I met Kim, I never really texted. Sure, I knew of its existence, but I could never see the point of typing out 22424633942334235 just to send a simple message to someone. However, I got the fun new toy, the iPhone, just
weeks before meeting Kim in January of 2008. And since texting was her preferred mode of communication, and certainly was way less committal than phone dates, it was the perfect medium for our budding relationship. I can remember the excitement I'd have when I heard that little "ding" on my phone, knowing that she had another quip for me during the day.

Anyway, it was time for our first date! We were well into February now and I was planning another trip to Boston for work (I would plan more and more trips to Boston over the coming months, obviously!). I told Kim that she should plan this particular date -- that we could do anything she liked. So she orchestrated (pun intended) the most wonderful evening for us. She knew that I liked fine dining so she found a restaurant called Sibling Rivalry in which two chefs (brothers) prepare meals with a special ingredient of the night and people can come and try each version to determine which they like the best.

Then, she surprised me with tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We spent an hour and a half listening to beautiful classical music (I'm sure she was bored to tears but I enjoyed it a ton).

And then, we went to this place, called Top of the Hub, on the 42nd floor of the Prudential Building. The views were amazing (as was the cover charge for what was supposed to be just a dessert date). Due to the minimum charge, we ended up having a couple of glasses of port as well as dessert. The port and one of the desserts were not so memorable, but the the other dessert was so delicious that we've decided to pay tribute to it at the wedding, so we will tell you that part of the story then!

This night was so fun that the Top of the Hub was one of our favorite spots from then on (though we were known to simply sit at the bar instead of a table to enjoy our dessert sans cover charge).

Our first official date was coming to a close, when as promised (or warned), I gave her a kiss. Or maybe it was two or three...

We were well on our way. The only problem was, of course, that she lived in Boston and I lived in San Francisco and she was very busy in grad school and I was very busy with a startup. How would we ever find the time to see each other enough to really connect?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Ascent (Continued)

When Ben asked simply, "So are you coming to San Francisco next week,
or what?", my head overflowed with plenty of reasons why I could not
fly to San Francisco less than one week from that very moment: I can’t
afford it; Being a social worker, what would people say about my
flitting across the country for a party, when most of us can barely
pay off our school loans?!? (Not to mention the environmental impact!
The waste of resources!); I can’t miss a day of my internship, and so
on. After I voiced a number of these concerns to Ben, and he
reassured me the flight would cost only $5 (using his miles to book
the ticket), he finally gave me reason to pause by asking: "How can
you pass up a free trip to see your parents?” OHHHHHH. I’d never been
able to surprise BOTH parents with a visit. Hmmm. Still, I managed to
deftly avoid giving an answer that night. But he had me thinking about

A few days later, Ben was back in San Francisco and I got a text from
him asking if I was coming on Friday or not (we had been texting a
little every day since our all-night conversation in Boston). By this
point, I had mostly come to terms with my previous objections. So the
conversation went like this:

Kim: “Are you going to wear a kilt?”
Ben: “Sure, if I can find one.”
Kim: “Nuh uh. That wasn’t the deal.”
Ben: “Okay, fine. If you come, I will wear a kilt.”
Kim: “Okay, I’m coming”

Sure enough, I flew to San Francisco that Friday and he had borrowed
the kilt from his Scottish co-worker. Apparently, none of the others
on the leadership team held up their end of the bargain. I felt a
little (but only a little) guilty that he was still going to wear one,
and told him as much, but he refused to back out of the bet saying, “I
am a man of my word.” Point for Ben.

Naturally, the kilt was a huge hit at the holiday party.
(Picture coming shortly)

The plan had been that Ben would drive me down to Cupertino to
surprise my parents after the work party. Instead, we ended up
talking at his place again until 6 AM. After I had crashed for a
short nap on his couch, we grabbed an early afternoon “brunch” before
he finally drove me down.

There were definite sparks between us by this point, but I was still
unsure of letting it become more than friendly. Ben, however, made
himself very clear. Before we parted, he declared: “Since we’ve hung
out for 20 something hours straight, I think we can retroactively call
this a date. And we should probably count last weekend as dates, as
well.” Me, being all indecisive and awkward around dating in general
let him know I wasn’t sure I agreed. He reassured me that was fine,
but told me that I should know that the next time we hung out, he was
probably gonna kiss me. Well, okay then. That very clearly set the
stage for our "first official date."

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Ascent

Fast forward to January 2008. I (Kim) was planning to be in India for an internship to finish up my MSW (Masters in Social Work). Due to my struggle with depression in the Fall of 2007 and poor health, I made the tough decision to stay in Boston where my doctors were for my final semester/internship of grad school. But besides the free health care, delaying my work in India had another upside…

Ben had been commuting to Boston from San Francisco many times for work as he was managing a team in his company’s office* over there. Outside of work, however, he didn’t really have a social life since his co-workers all had to get home to families. A mutual friend, the lovely Lisa Norlander, suggested that Ben give me a call the next time he was out there (She was aware that I was in need of a night out! And she figured it’d be nice for Ben to know someone around his age in the area). Sure enough, Ben called a few days later to let me know he’d be on the East Coast (“I don’t know if you remember me, but…”).

We agreed to meet up for a chill evening. I was to plan it. In my mind, this meant pizza and a video at my place, just to get re-acquainted. But before I even got around to suggesting that, Ben amazed me when he called the day before to let me know that he’d gotten us tickets to the hilarious Monty Python show “Spam-a-lot” and made reservations at what turned out to be the fanciest meal I had ever had at that point! I was floored. THIS was a casual, laid back evening?? Woah. (Note from Ben: Anything that requires just a day of planning is pretty casual in my book!)

It was surprising how easy conversation came to us, and we ended up closing down the restaurant (we’d watched the show first). This was NOT a date, mind you. Trust me. If it had been, I would not be here typing this story today-that first evening, Ben let me talk all about everything one should NEVER talk about on a first date: mental health, past love scars, etc. You know, happy stuff.

Luckily for me, neither of us thought of this as a date, AND little did I know until years later that Ben had been trying an experiment with me (ha, ha, that sounds horrible!): before coming, knowing a little about my struggles, he had made a conscious decision that he was going to show someone he barely knew love. Not the romantic kind, but just the kind a hurting person might need.

During that visit, he invited me to attend his company’s Boston office holiday party the following night. He was taken aback that I was willing to sit through an evening with a bunch of strangers making small talk while I was thinking, as a broke graduate student, “Sweet! Free dinner AND a chance to dress up! I am so in!”

What struck me most about our second evening together was how comfortable I felt with Ben right away. Like we were old (well, old and CLOSE) friends. After the dinner (more on that later), we ended up hanging out and talking until 6 AM the following morning. This time, it was HIS turn to share all the stuff you don’t share on a date, but since we still weren’t on a date, it was ok! He talked all the way up until he had to leave for the airport to catch his flight back to San Francisco. We texted until the moment his plane took off. And then I went to sleep.

Before wrapping up this story, there was one more very important detail about the holiday party that needs to be mentioned. During dinner, I had been talking to a co-worker of his, who happened to be from Scotland, about what life was like here in the U.S. and how he and his wife kept their cultural traditions alive for their kids. His wife pointed out that they celebrate “Robert Burns’ (a famous Scottish poet) Day” every year with a party, where they serve their friends traditional Scottish food and teach them Scottish folk dances. Ben’s co-worker even wears his formal kilt. Alas, being from the San Francisco office, they would have to postpone their party that year because the San Francisco office was having its holiday party on “Robert Burns’ Day,” which happened to be the following Friday.

I suggested that he should wear his kilt to the office party, and his wife agreed and then suggested that I come to see it for myself. I laughed this off, reminding her that while I was from the Bay Area, I lived in Boston. Ben had joined the conversation at this point and flippantly said, “Yeah, why DON’T you come?” Again, I laughed it off as a mere joke.

But by then, the joke was gaining momentum. Another of Ben's co-workers joined in the banter and decided that if Ben could get me to come to the party in San Francisco that next Friday, ALL of the company executives would wear kilts. This became the on-going joke throughout the rest of that holiday party. At least, I thought it was a joke until after the party when Ben simply quipped, without any of his colleagues around, "So, are you coming to San Francisco next week, or what?"

To be continued…

*A fun tidbit: one of the three previous times we had hung out before January of 2008 was while I was in Boston checking out Boston College and considering applying. Ben happened to be there that weekend to identify a location for his company’s future Boston office. A group of us had gone to dinner in the North End, Boston’s “Little Italy.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

From taxi to takeoff

In 2004, I was six weeks into my new home in San Francisco when I decided to throw a party. I had never met this Kim Whittaker person but had heard of her a few times from the friend who introduced us. Due to the connection, Kim made the invite list to my first, and so far only, murder mystery party. And given what I knew of her personality as a meek, loving, humble person who likely could not hurt a flea, I naturally decided to cast her in the part of the murderer. The party went off without a hitch, good times were had by all, and I had met the future love of my life.

I wish I could tell you that it was "love at first site" or some cheesy, romantic thing like that, but really it was just a casual meeting in which we didn't speak much. Sure I thought she was cute (as did one of my friends, who shall remain unnamed). It wasn't until years later, however, that we both realized the somewhat prophetic bit of this first encounter with each other. You see, while I cast Kim as the murderer, the person I cast to be the victim happened to be that same friend who introduced us, and, more interestingly, an ex-girlfriend of mine. That's right folks, on the night I met my future bride, I set her up to "kill" my ex-girlfriend. Perhaps I knew more that day that I realized at the time...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pre-flight announcement

Welcome to the story of how Kim and Ben (hereafter referred to in the second person, we promise) got ourselves to the point where we decided to get hitched.

By now, you've received our invitations and we certainly hope you can make it to our wedding. After the ceremony, we will be enjoying cocktails, dinner, and dancing. If you haven't already, please do put that reply card in the mail so we can get an accurate count, and can seat you at a table with people you'll certainly be bored with after a few minutes of small talk! Ha!

Over the next few weeks, we'll be posting stories here in this blog about our relationship that hopefully will give you a bit of insight into the two of us and provide some pre-wedding entertainment. All the obligatory wedding information can be found in the other pages on the tabs above (including a Frequently Asked Questions that we will update as we hear questions from you), but we hope that you'll come back to this site every week or two to learn a bit more about us in the days leading up to our special day.

We're looking forward to sharing more with you and can't wait to see you on Friday, May 27!

Until next time, sit back, relax, and enjoy the site.


Kim and Ben

P.S. Your involvement in this site is welcome -- please comment if you feel the desire!