I recently, after 21 years, loaded up the Jeep and put Seattle in my rearview mirror for good, to begin a new chapter of my life in L.A.. This is a little nerve-wracking, but every second of it has been worth it so far. As I’ve told friends, there are a million things that could go wrong, a thousand that will, and I’m on board for every one of them. Of course, I’m more looking forward to the things that will go right, but hey…if you can’t face the reality that in any big change, things are going to go wrong? You’re in for a rough ride and a lot of disappointments!
The interesting thing that has come to light over the last 10 or so days of frantic packing and endless going-away parties is the depth and value of my connections – in L.A. and Seattle. In L.A., my number of friends is small, but the value is great. There are folks I can turn to for info on neighborhoods, best places to shop, folks who can help with job advice and networking, and people who would just plain join me for a beer after a crappy day. In Seattle, I’ve been amazed at the sheer number of people who came out of the woodwork!
Friends from work, friends from old jobs, friends from campaigns – in some cases, I saw people I hadn’t seen in years. It was nice to feel as though I left a mark on the city, even though my time there wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be. And it let me leave town feeling good about my decision. I wasn’t running from a sense of loneliness or running away from anything, or leaving in some sort of snit. I left feeling loved, and like I had a place to return to if things went wrong.
The value of that is inestimable. How can you possibly put words to the feeling of knowing that people who you’ve held in high regard have felt the same about you? It was, at times, a bit overwhelming, but allowed me to leave Seattle with a nice sense of missing people, instead of a bitter “good riddance” feeling, which I’d been dreading, to be honest.
Another thing that leapt out at me is the amount of new friends I have. I lived in Seattle for 21 years (early July, 1990 to March 8, 2011), and made more friends in the last year than I did in the previous 20 combined. Part of that is coming out of my own shell, and a lot of it (including the shedding of my shell) is due to meeting and embracing the Connector. Let me explain a bit.
I met my L.A. friends, in toto, on Twitter. I’ve met them all IRL (in real life for the uninitiated), but Twitter is where I’ve gotten to know them. I’ve gained new and dear friends in Denver, Canada (Yes, I know that’s not a city, bear with me), New York…all over. Some I’ve met IRL, some not. I’ve come to know professional athletes as actual people, and even meet them IRL, and consider them friends. And, for all its flaws, I owe these friends 100% to the existence of Twitter. Twitter allows you to reach people who would under no other circumstances come to be in your world. Perhaps they’ve no reason to acknowledge or meet you, they’re in a different city where you won’t go, or maybe they’re just someone you normally wouldn’t talk to (and vice versa). Twitter lets you reach into the world in a completely unique way, zeroing in on your passion, tracking those people who are unexpectedly like-minded, and getting to know them (and they, you).
(An aside: All social media is like this, but each in their own unique way, and with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.)
Connector is like a living Twitter. She knows, from all appearances, everyone. And she embraces them unambiguously, un-self consciously, and without reservation. Meaning all these people from different walks of life who would otherwise never encounter one another are brought into her sphere, as though her personality has its own gravity, and from there meet one another within that sphere of unambiguous acceptance. It’s a truly rare and beautiful thing. And just as I owe the breadth of my new online friends to Twitter, I owe the depth of my new IRL friends to the Connector.
These connections, and the ability to make them – they are what allow me to take the chance I am taking. My success or failure in this new chapter of my life will hinge entirely on my ability to expand, learn from, and enrich existing connections, and most importantly, to create new ones. And I am entirely optimistic about my chances of success.