Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Green Mountains and the White House in sync


Here at Fern Forest Treehouse, we’ve rarely met a more unlikely couple than Antoinette and Chris. They met online in the early days of AOL chat rooms. It was a random chat room and the connection was innocent. She was eleven—although she told him she was fifteen—and he was indeed fifteen. She was in middle school in New York City and he was in high school in Vermont. She was an ace student and he struggled with ADHD. She had aspirations of a top college followed by law school. He just hoped to get into a college. He’s tall and slim with cropped strawberry blond hair. She’s petite with dark curly hair and comes from a Spanish-speaking home.
Five years of online chatting and exchange of photos and videos deepened their relationship, but they still hadn’t met face to face. Then when Antoinette was sixteen, her parents—whom she describes as “very liberal”—allowed her to take the train to Vermont to meet Chris. They were already in sync through their screen relationship, but seeing her in the flesh sealed the deal. When Chris asked her to be his girlfriend, she responded, “I already am.”
Antoinette is a woman who knows what she wants. She spent four years at Middlebury College in Vermont while Chris hung out in New Hampshire, where he had graduated from Franklin Pierce University. He learned building skills and came back to Vermont to work with an environmental services company teaching at-risk high school kids proficiencies to help them build self-esteem and land jobs.
They didn’t see much of each other in those years. After college Antoinette enrolled in law school. She was taking classes at Northeastern when a mentor suggested that with her Spanish speaking skills she should apply for an internship at the White House. Not only did the White House HR like her, but they offered her a full-time job with the press corps.
“What about law school?” she said.
“Transfer to Georgetown,” they replied.
Antoinette juggled night classes at Georgetown Law with ten-hour work days that required her to follow President Obama all over the world. The press goes where he goes, she said, whether to summit meetings in the Middle East or golfing on Martha’s Vineyard. Since the assassination of President Kennedy, when there were few reporters in Dallas, the press corps has been at the heels of every U.S. President in case of a noteworthy news break. And in the last four years, Antoinette has been there, too.
When Chris visited her in Washington, she arranged for an insider’s tour of the White House, including the rarely seen briefing room and, of course, the Oval Office. If Antoinette intended to impress him, she succeeded.

Chris said he thought about places they could live together that would make them both happy. He didn’t want to move to D.C., and he’s not a New York City kind of guy. Neither of them had a connection to upstate New York or Boston. Chris eliminated every option except one—Vermont.
Antoinette is resetting her headlamp toward the Green Mountain State. She’ll finish law school in 2015 and plans to take the Vermont bar exam. After that she may apply to clerk for Vermont District Judge William Sessions. Then she’ll set up her own law practice in the Burlington area, where Chris owns a home.
I’ve heard that magnetism is determined by the orbit and spin of electrons and the way in which electrons interact with each other. After spending several hours with Chris and Antoinette, it’s clear that they connect on a molecular level. They spin around each other, never out of their common orbit. H and I are glad that their orbit spun them to Fern Forest for one snowy winter night.



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