Ten years ago today I saw this beautiful face for the first time. I’ll never forget that moment. I was swaying on a tree swing, people nearby chatting, he was brought over to be introduced. “Elyse! This is my friend Brad.” “Hi Brad.” I said as my body swung forward and my long hair flew back. “Hi…” He responded breathlessly with wide wondrous eyes. I turned my face up into the night sky and smiled to myself. This will be something.

My flatmate and I were awkwardly attending a 21st birthday party ninety minutes away from where we lived and knew only the birthday boy. I’d met Birthday Boy a few weeks earlier at another 21st party and though we quickly became friends I couldn’t convince him that we didn’t have a future together. Little did I know that he introduced me as, “The girl I like so please stay away from her.” One moment too late.

A bit later I spotted Brad’s green checked shirt over near the bathtub full of ice and beer and went over on the pretence of getting a drink. He nearly fell over himself to open it for me. We talked the rest of the night. His wing-man trapped my poor flatmate in conversation so I’d be alone and available. We talked about everything. I’d just come out of a toxic relationship but it didn’t seem to matter what I said, he smiled at me just like in this photo for the rest of the night. Ten years later that is how he still smiles at me.

He was studying photonic engineering and as a student of Greek I immediately knew what that meant and was intrigued. I was so tired of meeting engineers at parties on Sydney’s north shore but an engineer of ‘light’ – that was interesting. There was something different about him to the usual bourgeois drones: a mischievous spark, an irreverent smile, and yet he was an almost old-fashioned gentleman. Still is.

Brad has always maintained that the moment he saw me he knew I was the one. I guess it was love at first sight. But it took me a while to admit it. I found it hard to believe in him for a long time, but he never lost faith in me. That is another story. Later that night Birthday Boy’s mum saw me typing my number into Brad’s phone. A great adventure began.

I’m forever indebted to Birthday Boy for introducing me to my life’s greatest love. We are still friends, so if you are reading this – thank you and happy birthday.