In working on an extended team of professionals here in Anchorage, I befriended a cool chick named Sue. Meeting new friends in a professional environment is a lot like dating...you have to get to know each other, crack a couple of jokes over coffee and in between meetings, and eprhaps compliment each other's shoes...all to see if you click. Feeling pretty confident, I asked Sue out on a date, "Wanna get a drink sometime?"
Her response floored me, "Well, my husband and I are throwing a kegger on Saturday night. The crowd will be mostly climbers, but you are welcome to come hang."
A few hours later, she passes along the evite with notes about her abode, "We have a koi pond and a rooftop garden...can't miss it."
Around 8 PM last Saturday, I pull up to a humble abode with a koi pond that stretches from the backyard to the front yard, taking up most of the landscaping. Seriously, it could have been in front of the Grand Hyatt in Oahu; it was breathtaking. I opened the front door to the sound of 30-40 climbers chatting away, with Mooses Tooth pale ale and amber chilling on the back deck. For the next five hours, I worked the room, enjoyed the conversation that did not center around my current project, and accepted an invitation to go indoor rock climbing next week.
For the first time in five weeks here in Anchorage, I felt at ease. Yes, I have enjoyed an occassional night out with some friends, but to be so welcomed by- in a sense- complete strangers was exactly what I needed with my current stress level. My hostess handed me a red solo cup, a sharpie, and pointed me toward the beer and food. I wrote, "Hi. My name is Christina." Oh, sooooooloooooooo, how I have missed you.