Kirsten and Zach

How We Met

I’ve been spellbound by astronomical cultures since I was little – dreaming about how they lived and where they went and how they knew so much about the sky. I used to teach and I loved talking to my students about the galaxy. Then I worked for Boeing thinking it’d get me closer to space. Now I work with the world’s leading AI scientists knowing someday, the machine learning they’re creating will be what gets us to the stars.

In the same way, I’ve been captivated by (and talking to) the universe for as long as I can remember, Zach has always been magnetic to me.

We met playing basketball at the gym and our 4 year anniversary is in December, but for 2 years before we ever spoke – Zach and I were eyeing each other. We knew the others schedules, workout partners, and I think we also knew there was something else there. Not sure if it was love at first sight, but it was strong. We’d never talked but it felt like we spoke the same language.

On our first date, we talked for 6 hours. I was drawn to him in ways I’d never felt connected to anyone. Two months into dating I had major neck surgery and the day before it Zach hiked with me and didn’t think I was crazy for wanting to be closer to the stars for what could’ve been the last time. Surgery was followed by a stressful trial. A month after that Zach was set to compete in his first ever fitness competition and he was diagnosed with mono just a few weeks prior (we laugh about the mono now…) It was all really tough and that December Zach and I were on a break when my brother got married. The day before his wedding I received a phone call that a very close family member had been hospitalized with minimal chances of making it. During such an exciting time steeped in love with family members flying in, I had to make one of the toughest decisions of my life, without Zach. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell my family about this news on my brother’s wedding day, but I would immediately following it.

When Zach heard, he knew how close we were and he emailed me right away. This is when I realized I couldn’t live without him… The universe works in mysterious ways.

We got back together but it still wasn’t easy. Zach was trying to get his GED and applying for jobs, and I was an emotional wreck and also applying for jobs. But we fought to stay together. To say Zach and I were tested from the very beginning is a gargantuan understatement. We took breaks and sought counseling as we grew, loved, and tried to figure it all out — and we had a lot of support from our patient friends and family.

Zach helps me see that regardless of the love I thought I wanted… what I needed was the kind of love where my personal growth is cherished and accepted for everything it is. Balancing the chaos of endlessly dreaming with the sometimes darkness of sacrifice and loss… is a beautiful love to me.

We fail and succeed, we work together, and we watch the stars together. What we have is as real as gravity and with Zach I’m safe to say or not say, feel or not feel, do or not do… whatever I need. He understands why or is ok not knowing why I am the way I am in that moment. From the giddy playful to the serious… What I’m wondering, celebrating, facing… he’s present. He knows when to listen, ask questions, walk away, give space, and laugh. My god, we laugh.

How He Asked

I’m free because Zach’s presence means I’m safe to be me in my rawest form. Most days it feels like the universe gave Zach the 6th sense just for me, so when he took me to Mexico for adventures in the jungle and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him — surrounded by 1 of the 7 wonders of the world, in front of an ancient and astronomical Mayan pyramid, on Kukulkan’s front doors — I SAID YES!!!!! Yes to my forever light and stargazer.

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