As Ms. Hepburn famously stated, Paris is always a good idea” and who can disagree with that? While I was stoked to spend more time in Paris – taking a retro sidecar tour through the winding street up to Sacre Coeur, picnicking on the Canal St Martin, touring chic (and intimidating) boutiques with a local stylist, not to mention gorging on wine, cheese, baguettes and devouring choux à la crème from Popelini (the best discovery of this trip and the talk of the town... so wait a few months and it will come to a town near you) – the real magic of the week was the people I met and the diversity and depth of conversation. Debbie trusted that the right people would show up, those who would bring energy and enthusiasm to her next, and best, decade... and given they are friends of Debbie’s, they were guaranteed to be fabulous. I was not disappointed.
For over thirty plus years – since I was old enough to know I needed them – I’ve been looking for ‘my people’. You know the ones. The people who get you, who are on the same wavelength. Some might even say the people who share the same brand of quirky, crazy, or oddness that you do. The ones who understand why you do what you do, or if they don’t understand, they either ask or they just accept, and either way is fine. There is a quote from Anne of Green Gable, my childhood idol, that pretty much captures the continuous search for my people:
*Bosom = Anne-speak for "best." (Also: what an awesome description of what a best friend is.)
For some of us, trying to find our tribe felt like the odd duck swimming with swans, which all seemed to enjoy a sense of belonging I struggled to find. I uncovered a few gems in high school that have stuck with me through the years (or been stuck with me... it’s open for debate). Strengthened by time, I can appreciate the ways that we are tremendously different. Many years ago, I *may* have compared each of us to a food at one point. Lottie was carrots, symbolizing wholesome and pure; McBase was macaroni and cheese, signifying comfort and warmth; and I was.... wait for it... pâté. My exact words were: I’m like pâté - you either love it or you hate it. I own this position now more than ever as I try to be gracefully unapologetic from who I am.
My friends from my undergrad years come from the restaurant I worked and they stretched my understanding of the world in ways I can hardly describe without sounding like I was a stuck up kid who when to private school... oh wait... I really hit my stride when I went to back to university for my masters. I found a group of brilliant, fierce, passionate women that introduced me to new ideas, challenged my assumptions, and magnified my curiosity.
And then I started working. When you are a student you meet a lot of your friends seemingly without doing anything. There was an unspoken assumption that everyone on the same floor would hang out together every weekend and organic chemistry labs were friendship incubators as you struggled with your titrations and cursed the confusing explanations from your Russian T.A. (No, just me?). Once school is done, friendships don't fall into your lap as often.
If you want to make new friends as a “grown up”, you have to be much more purposeful about it... join a team or club just so you can meet new likeminded people... or just wait for heart-broken former colleagues to move in down the street by chance (a-hem Jolene!) or awkwardly approach people in your professional development courses and tell them that you think you should be friends in “real life.” (You’re welcome, Amanda!). In the modern world, many of us tire quickly of shallow digital connections and are drawn to warm hugs and eye-to-eye conversations, seeking connections deeper than what can be conveyed in Facebook updates and instagram hashtags but are stumped about where to find these blessed kinsmen.
We are all looking for our tribe. A place to belong. With them in our corner anything seems possible. We want to be heard and known, to actually make a difference. Community matters. I know many people that are struggling to find new members of their tribe, jonesing for new stimulating and supportive connections in their adult lives, one that is scarce on recess and crayons as well as dorm rooms and lecture halls.
With a little serendipity and a quick I’m in! email, I was dining with a handful of new members of my tribe in Paris. Perhaps it’s the law of attraction in action – or if you prefer a run-of-the-mill inspirational quotes flooding your social media feed – “your vibe attracts your tribe.” (Barf... but kind of true). In fact many of Queen Debbie’s ladies-(and-dude)-in-waiting were going through big life changes while adventuring in Paris. Transitions from one chapter of our lives to the next, and not really sure what that future looks like... Just like me. Each of our internal compasses was bickering with the conventional map and we were navigating new paths. But thankfully for this one week, our "future" was as simple as stuffing our faces with croissants and wine while sharing an electric socket of curiosity and conversation to recharge our batteries for the journey ahead.
Within my new Paris crew, I know I have some wonderful friends who will support each other in our personal and professional growth, bounce creative ideas around, offer up the occasional well-intentioned ass-kicking, network professionally and (I’m hoping one day) break into spontaneous dance parties.
And that my friends, is the delight of bringing people together... in Paris of course ;)
Nice to meet you...
I'm Andi (hence the blog name). I'm a travel aficionado, passionate eater, tireless explorer of internet rabbit-holes, and amateur thinker. Join me as I give it all up (ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration) and go around the world on a mid-career "soul sabbatical" & year-of-learning to figure out what to be NEXT when I grow up. Won’t you grab a cup of chai and stay a while?
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