I first met Chloe when I interviewed her at Spotify. I hate to admit my first reaction: I had for nearly two years proudly worn my “only girl on the team” badge of honor and I wasn’t sure how I felt about this physically stunning, hair-twirling brilliance swooping in to mess that up. Of course, two seconds into the interview I immediately fell for her quirky charm and quickly decided that she was so smart and cool and hoped she’d be my friend once she was hired. She would later tell me that it was the “best interview ever”, which still makes me laugh. She was such a nerd.
Before her first day, I had discovered that Chloe had an impressive presence in the web design community. She was on a first-name basis with a lot of people whose books I’ve read and whose internet properties I quietly admired from afar. She had a bunch of side projects that the community had commended her for. I was intimidated to be her “buddy” when she started at Spotify. I nervously prepared notes for myself on how to get her started on her first day, and stuttered through giving her a tour of the office, hoping she didn’t think I was a weirdo.
I don’t want to paint stereotypes, but there’s something special about the handful of women I’ve gotten to know in the web development world. I've immediately felt close to all of them in our similarities: shameless introversion, a charming self-awareness of being socially awkward, a love of the intersection of creativity and logic, a comfort in sharing insecurities, a mutual admiration for each other. Chloe fit right into this; we were immediate friends. I remember at one of our first team lunches she casually mentioned that she had a friend who she couldn’t wait for me to meet, as she thought we’d all get along so well. I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh my god. Chloe thinks I’m cool.”
I had mentioned to Chloe once that I was meaning to get around to using the Sublime Text code editor, but wasn’t sure how to make it work with our development environment (read: I’m lazy.) She immediately scheduled a calendar event on Valentines Day and called it “Sublime Text First Date”. I thought it was hilarious. She hadn’t been at the company for even two months and yet she was already training me.
Chloe had so many interesting traits, passions, and hobbies. She tasted words. She loved reading science fiction. She knitted tiny super heroes. She made maple bourbon lollipops (to our team’s delight she shared these with us, apologizing that some of them looked like the ebola virus). It seemed there was no end to the interesting things that she was immersing herself in and creating. It was awe-inspiring.
It’s an interesting relationship that we have with our coworkers sometimes. I couldn’t tell you what college Chloe went to off the top of my head. I don’t know what day her birthday is. I don’t know what high school was like for her. But I know she liked tiny jewelry. I know she hated cilantro. I know she wore her glasses when she was having a bad day. I know her favorite spot to sit in the office when she wanted to get away from her desk. I know her wardrobe, her dressiest dress that she wore for Fancy Friday. I know she ate soup from a coffee mug. I know the shape of her hands, and the way that she would kind of flail them whenever she got excitable, which was often.
Even still, I feel like I only knew a small piece of such a big personality. I read other posts written in her memory and I find myself weirdly jealous. Jealous that I don’t have a good picture of just her and me. Jealous that I didn’t get to witness her go through more than one hair style. Jealous that I didn’t get to even have one whole year with her, when I blindly assumed I’d keep her as a friend for years to come.
I know that I cannot accept any blame for Chloe choosing to end her life. I know that anyone who was ever close to her cannot accept that (I hope they know this too). But I also cannot stop thinking about the times where I could have been better. We hung out after work twice in the last month, and both evenings ended with an awkward goodbye. The ol’ do-we-hug-do-we-not-hug-we’re-introverts-an-awkward-wave-is-cool. I wish I had hugged the crap out of her. I wish I had invited her out more instead of simply going along with it when she invited me. I wish I had actually introduced her to my close friends instead of just talking about it. I know that I cannot credit myself with the ability to have made a difference in the final outcome of her life, but I sure would feel comforted knowing I had better communicated how much she meant to me.
I’ve spent the last week doing weird little things in her honor - wearing my glasses, eating crappy mac and cheese (my favorite comfort food which she so loyally defended for me once), wearing my Pixelivery Ohio shirt that she had complimented. I’ll continue to do so as so many things remind me of her (I still need to get a milkshake, our favorite reason to sneak away from the office). Over time I hope to turn my sadness and regret into positive changes. I hope to actually get more things done the way she did instead of just talking about it. I hope to reach out more to friends who seem lonely. I hope to show affection to my friends a little more openly.
For Chloe, I hope to be better.