A Secret Crush Goes Public in a Work Meeting

In March 2020, Emily Yang Liu spent hours each day in virtual meetings with her team at Google, which was working on building Covid-19 exposure notifications technology. To keep herself engaged, she pinned her work crush, Jacob Michael Klinker, to her screen.

They hadn’t actually met in person — they started working on the contact tracing project together shortly after pandemic lockdowns were enforced in 2020. After seeing him in a meeting, she thought to herself, “Oh, he’s really cute,” she said.

Technically, though, they had met before in a virtual work meeting in 2018 that “she does not remember at all,” he said. Mr. Klinker, a software engineer at Google, needed legal sign-off for a project, so, Ms. Liu, a senior counsel, was called into a meeting with Mr. Klinker, who goes by Jake, and others. (Years later, he even pulled up the calendar invite to prove to her that they had met before the Covid project.)

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One day in April 2020, the product manager on the team, Ronald Ho, pinged her during the meeting and said, “Why do you have Jake pinned to your screen?” It turns out that Ms. Liu, 36, had a large mirror behind her, and people in the meetings could see the reflection of her laptop — and Mr. Klinker, 29, on her screen as a large square with everyone else in miniature.

“I tried to play it off,” Ms. Liu said. “I was like, ‘Why are you looking at me?’ and pretended like it was just an accident.” She stopped pinning his face, effective immediately.

Mr. Klinker never noticed, however. “Apparently I’m oblivious,” he said.

Ultimately, Mr. Ho played matchmaker. “I think he started getting the sense, ‘Oh, Emily definitely has a crush on Jake,’” she said. Mr. Ho had found out that Mr. Klinker would be visiting Boulder, Colo., to look for houses. At the time, Ms. Liu was living in Denver, about a 40-minute drive away. So Mr. Ho told her that he would be in town.

“My heart skipped a beat,” she said. She messaged Mr. Klinker about grabbing a coffee and “tried to be really smooth and nonchalant.”

They met at Boxcar Coffee Roasters in Boulder in October 2020 with his brother, who was also visiting. In January 2021, he moved to Boulder.

They spent time together “casually,” and in July 2021, they went on a camping trip together in Breckenridge, Colo. Her coat got eaten by a marmot, a large squirrel common to the area, which she was “sad about,” she said, but “I wasn’t that sad about it because I was on a camping trip with my crush.”

“I had told my whole book club about him,” she said. “Everyone was super engaged in this work crush story.” They told her she should confess her feelings for him on the trip. But when she returned and told her fellow members that she could not bring herself to say anything, “they were so disappointed.”

Shortly after the camping trip, Mr. Klinker moved to a different team at Google, and the two started spending more time together outside of work.

One night that September, she was “fed up” with being in a state of limbo — on some days, she thought he liked her too, but on other days she wasn’t as positive. So she decided to ask him, “What’s going on?” as they were sitting on his living room floor having dinner. (He didn’t have furniture at his house yet.) Mr. Klinker, who is “quiet and reserved” according to Ms. Liu, finally confessed that he also liked her, and they started dating.

She moved into his place in March 2022, and in June 2022, they bought a cabin in Estes Park. Three months later, in September 2022, Mr. Klinker proposed at Chasm Lake, Colo., after a five-mile hike.

Ms. Liu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in government from Dartmouth and a law degree from Columbia Law School. Mr. Klinker graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Iowa.

They got married March 18 at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is a 10-minute drive from their cabin in Estes Park. Mr. Klinker’s twin brother, Lucas Klinker, who was at the coffee shop with the couple when they first met, officiated in front of 17 guests in 25-degree weather. Mr. Klinker was ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion. They all hiked a quarter mile together to the lake, but since it was so cold, the ceremony lasted about three minutes.

Afterward, the group went to the couple’s house and had hot chocolate and pies from the Colorado Cherry Company, and dinner at a nearby restaurant, Bird & Jim.

Although it was “excruciating” having a crush for a year and a half, Ms. Liu said, “it was all worth it.”

source: nytimes.com