I met Carl when I was working with Gottfried et al. and working way too much. There was a Yahoo group for singles that we both happened to find, and we both went to one of their dinner events. The evening started with me chatting for about 15 minutes with a man who would concede nothing in service of conversation. Everything was a “no” or “I don’t see it that way”. Negation is hot, but when you’re first meeting someone, it’s nice to swim towards a patch of water early on where you both can find a “yes”.
Then Carl sat down and introduced himself to the group. We began to talk and for the life of me I could not map him. Each sentence opened up a new dimensionality of mind and being. I wasn’t talking to a person but a sprawling vastness. There was a measured assuredness to his mind that revealed a depth of reason I had never encountered.
I spent the next few days thrashing about trying to pin his intellect down. I spoke at length about him with my roommate Melanie who was a fierce intellect who worked at MIT Press Bookstore. Her feminism at that time took no prisoners, so she encouraged me to drill him on patriarchy. I remember that phone call. I was lying in my bed, trying to set him up to reveal he was really a wolf hiding in nerd clothing, but there he was calmly listening and asking why I was asking such questions in the first place. I didn’t know. I had not yet discovered how deeply afraid of violence I’d become, and how desperately I tracked vectors of aggression.
We had an awkward beer later that week at a bar that was too loud, yet still made plans to go on a hike up in Maine. I met Carl at his house and he made me the most thoughtful oatmeal I’d ever had while I laid on rug in the sun. He was quiet. He was mindful. I was brash but knew I was strong and interesting, at the very least in my sprawling passions. We took a Zipcar up to Mount Agamenticus, and near its summit we sat down under a tree in the snow and looked out in silence at the valley and the rest I felt in my heart set a new baseline for how safe and alive a person could feel.
Carl grew up with the internet.