I struggle, really, really struggle, with making long-term friends. Friendship is hard work, and I’m not about that one-sided effort stuff. I also know when I’ve reached my whine-tolerance level for a particular person. Needless to say, there’s a certain type of person that I don’t like, and there are a lot of people who can’t stand me.
That’s part of why this week was amazing. Apart from living in a hotel (easily one of my top 5 favorite activities), I made new friends. No, they likely won’t be lifelong friends. Most I may never see again; however, I was able to connect with people, which is something I’ve struggled with for the last 7 years (thank you, high school).
The first sign was when I walked into a store at the mall and found artwork I could totally see hanging in my house. I examined it for a few minutes before one of the sales associates walked over and we started chatting. We ended up talking for almost 30 minutes about art, language, culture, and how the latter two tie together. The conversation was amazing, and I wish it had continued longer, but I was on a time-crunch. Instead, we ended on, “It was very nice to meet you, and I hope to see you next time.”
The second sign was on the Piedmont Triad “International” Airport tarmac, during a 60-minute delay, when I struck up a fantastic conversation with the imaginative gentleman in the seat next to me. We joked about taking the CRJ-900 on the freeway, as it would get us to Charlotte faster than waiting for air traffic control to clear us for takeoff. That led to imagining a larger aircraft, like an Airbus 321, on the freeway, and the unintended consequences if said Airbus came up on an unsuspecting SmartCar (“SmartCar gets sucked into the engine, plane starts spinning in circles like rowing a canoe on one side”–we’re talking cartoon humor, folks). My seat-mate looked surprised and delighted by the random creative conversation, and we continued joking through the entire flight to Charlotte.
Connections like this may never turn into full-blown friendships, but to have two that felt so solid, so real, in the span of three days, was an incredible feeling. They made the trip to Winston-Salem, which was already a success, feel like a step forward personally as well as professionally. I could not have asked for a better week.
Of course, there were still moments of complete suck. After landing in Dallas last night, I made a fool of myself, plus I was flooded by a stream of travel memories that just hurt more than anything else. In the privacy of my hotel room, I let myself break down for awhile. I let myself miss my ex-fiancé/lost friend and the adventures we used to have. I let myself hate sleeping alone (something I have never gotten used to and is on my top 5 “Things I Hate”). I let myself feel out of my depth (who in the hell designed DFW?), and I let myself feel lost. Then, instead of calling my lost friend (#104 on the list of Ideas That Only Occur After Midnight), I turned on talk radio and fell asleep.
This morning, I met more people. I didn’t make any solid connections, but I learned a lot. I learned new things about my boss and my Dallas-based colleagues. I learned how the other departments are set up, and I learned the stresses the merger is placing on them. I learned a new software environment I can research that may allow me to build a better future for my department.
And repeatedly, I was able to say (honestly), “And your name was? It was very nice to meet you. I look forward to working with you.”