Of course Bob is not his real name. Or rather it IS his real name but it shouldn’t be. He needs a distinctive yet slightly nerdy name. A brainiac’s name. Like Franklin or Wilhelm… Archibald or… Aeneas. (Yes, I have a character Aeneas in Star-Crossed, but he’s a composite. Truth be told, there is a good dose of Bob in Aeneas MacPherson, Patricia’s first husband…)
I’ve been spending the past week with Bob in Hilo, Hawaii, where he has been working at Subaru Telescope, a Japanese facility based on the Big Island, along with a dozen other world class telescopes atop Mauna Kea. My 63 year old husband is finishing up an advanced degree in optical science through the University of Arizona. His thesis involves Adaptic Optics, deformable mirrors, and other tricks employed to detect exo-planets in the “habitable zone” of other solar systems. This is amazing and I would love to tell you more but I am at a loss for words. My brain seems to be under-pixilated when it comes to comprehending advanced physics and mathematics, but if you ever get a chance to talk to Bob, get him to tell you about it. He explains it beautifully. Every time he patiently explains it to me, I get it! (The insight slowly dissolves however, like a dream upon awakening.)
While Bob has been unlocking the Secrets of the Universe, I’ve been writing a novel, as well as an essay for an American History course I’m taking, plugging along toward a degree in History, on the slow boat it seems. It’s pretty interesting, the two of us students again. Bob is very supportive of me, and I of him. We’re a team. Are we lucky, or what!
Bob is one of those brainy guys who received his degree in Physics from IIT and was in a doctoral program in astrophysics at the University of Colorado when I met him. We met in 1986 while skydiving, which is another story, a book really, in itself. I was a registered nurse, working at the time in emergency care, pulling extra shifts in critical care and on psychiatric unit, raising three children, and writing. We were both divorced, both parents. We began our drop zone romance and dated for five years before marrying.
Bob’s life changed dramatically when his father was killed in a car accident, in the midst of his studies, while we were dating. As the eldest child, he was swept into the family business of making railroad car trucks, a business based in Chicago. Twenty-odd years later, the family business has been sold and Bob is back to his first love – science. This time around he chose optical science, a field closely related to astrophysics. Bob’s life would make a very good novel in itself, and if I ever write it, I won’t be able to publish it until all of us have been dead for at least fifty years! Maybe I can work some of the themes and characters into my historical fiction where they won’t be recognized…