I met Beth when I was poor and soon to be jobless. I’d been managing network systems for a small credit union being swallowed by Bank of America. Despite the old adage that “I-T spells IN,” I was out the first round of personnel cuts. So I drove my rust-punched Hyundai to a developers’ conference in Milwaukee to sniff out opportunities, finagling my way into a cocktail party full of investors.

Beth, a French 75 in one hand, stood in the center of the room, back straight, bobbed dark hair, black dress, pearls. By then she’d earned her master’s degree in public affairs from Wisconsin and traveled extensively in Europe. Along the way she’d coordinated a vaccination campaign against Marburg virus in Angola and picked up a passable Portuguese. She could recite Blake at the drop of a blue-crab croquette. I don’t know what vintage wine it was that instilled in me the courage to talk to her, but I’ve looked for it ever since.

People on couch
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