Saturday, September 02, 2006

Making new friends...

I've been wondering about how to share the experience of meeting new people and making new friends. I already mentioned that I started working at Sam's school last week. School started for him then too. We've both met many noteworthy people and are thoroughly enjoying the social interaction and intellectual stimulation being there provides. I shared pictures and information about three teachers we are interacting with regularly there and figured since everything I shared was already online, it was fair game. But I haven't felt comfortable taking pictures of people I'm just getting to know especially, with the intention of posting them online.

I meant to bring the camera to Malia's party because I knew it would be fabulous and that if we did take pictures we'd be glad we had them. But as we were crossing the Richmond Bridge, I realized I'd forgotten to grab it. Cam had thought about it but intentionally decided to leave it, thinking it would be weird, as he joked before, Nice to meet you. May we take your picture?

So we have no pictures of Malia's party. None of her looking glamorous in her sexy dress and chunky hip necklace. None of their beautiful home and delightful spread. No pictures of the three darling two-year-old girls. None of their parents. None of Justin and Mitch who we enjoyed talking with so much.

No pictures of Sam and the almost seven-year-old boy playing with the garden hose the host so graciously turned on for them. None of the almost seven-year-old boy soaking said host minutes later and nearly chasing him into the living room spraying away. None of the dry boys tackling and wrestling with the 14-year-old boy who arrived later.

None of me smiling and asking for more after my second gin and tonic. None of me drunk and ready to go home before 10:00 after my third or fourth drink. No pictures of the very nice wine Adam brought out of his wine cellar to share a last round with us. It is really too bad I was at that place of hurry up and drink it so we can go home and go to bed. Apparently, it was worth savoring.

Again, we greatly appreciate their kind idea to host a party so we could meet some people in the Bay Area. It really was a lovely evening.

Now Malia has invited me to join a book club she is forming. Cam wasn't invited. I feel honored to be included and gladly accepted the invitation. I am looking forward to sharing different books with new women. I don't know what we will read first.

When we lived in St. Louis, a man I worked with for a few weeks, Paul McFarlane introduced me to his wife Nora who included in her group of women who were reading and discussing Women Who Run with the Wolves. I'd talked Paul into allowing me to work for him because I was between jobs and excited about his idea that you could work in advertising and have an incredibly interesting and meaningful life. Never mind that he didn't currently have any clients who used media. He said I could be the media director and if I managed to find work, he would pay me. Why not?

I brought my computer from home into his office and worked diligently for weeks. I loved being there but never drummed up a client. The morning of September 11th, I woke up not knowing what was happening in NYC but knowing the day was a turning point for me. I had decided I couldn't keep paying for daycare to go to a job where I was being rewarded but wasn't being paid money. Sam and I were slow getting around that morning. Finally, I took him with me to the office to gather up my things. When we got there, no one was around. I don't know if they were at a new business pitch or responding to the news we found on the TV there.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing; a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center? Surely this is some kind of freak accident. How horrible. Then, as I watched stunned, the second plane hit. Sam was with me but I felt terrified and alone.

Here I was, a single mom with a four-year-old living in St. Louis. We had made friends here but had no family, no one we could really count on. I had no job, no money and no clue what to do next. I'd recently quit the job that brought us there in the first place because it had been too demanding. We'd been to California and back in search of greener pastures. Not having found them, now what? I didn't know and now we were being attacked.

It was unreal. I thoroughly expected planes to fly over St. Louis dropping bombs at any minute. I had this sense that I should flee but didn't know where to go. I nearly packed up the car and took off again, seeking solace and protection but where to find it? I didn't know. In the end, we stayed put.

As the sense of imminent danger abated, I worked as a temp for $9 an hour for a few weeks. All the while, paying for daycare. It was horrible, miserable work and I had to wear pantyhose and pay for parking. This wasn't working either.

Then as I was feeling almost as low as I could go, I was offered the job that although it was a bit funny, it was the most impressive job of my marketing career. I was asked to be the Director of Marketing, supervising a national consumer ad campaign, an annual budget of over $10 million and flying regularly from Des Moines to Chicago to supervise the work of two advertising agencies. That the job was in Iowa (not where I wanted to be) and for an organization I knew instinctively was too conservative for me is a story for another blog on another day. I started out talking about friends and books and book clubs.

In the end, Paul McFarlane did pay me. Introducing me to Nora, the women in her group and that book were payment enough. Women Who Run with the Wolves became my best friend for awhile. I hope Malia's group are interested in reading it because I'd like to read it again but I really have no idea what kind of books they will want to read. Regardless, I look forward to the experience of sharing whatever we read with them and making new friends.

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