"Oh yeah, I think it's cute when girls 'use tools' and act tough and stuff," the guy standing behind me boasts.
He's heard me talking to a former Girls, Inc. employee about my job as a nuclear chemist. How it requires much more manual labor than I expected, how empowering it is to learn how to use tools with confidence, how much I wish I could share that with younger girls.
Ah yes, cocky, how I know you well. I turn around, quickly flipping through the photos on my phone, finding the picture I want.
"Yeah, I know. I had to move these around all day," flashing a snapshot of the ginormous Carbon Dioxide gas cylinders I'd played with earlier. They're half a foot taller than me and outweigh me, clearly, by at least a hundred pounds. "So fun," I say with enthusiastic sarcasm, "And what do you do?"
He is speechless. For a full moment, silence then, "Um.. I'm a-attorney."
"Oh cool." I turn and continue talking to the girls.
The next morning one of the girls messages me on Facebook and we start talking. At some point. "OMG, I have never seen him at a loss for words before. You've got to come hang out with us."
And so I do. Who wold think that randomly being assigned an extra player from the other team because your shambles "Free Agent" kickball team is too sparse to play could lead to so many great things?
No one tells you how hard it is to make friends as an adult. The crucible of being in your hometown or at school or at work simply forces you to come together with cohorts out of shared boredom. None of these people, even ones I've met through friends of friends, strike me as "random". Through one of these venues, I knew a person who knew a person who introduced me to a person who I wound up being friends with, and that's where my friends come from. A network with degrees of separation eventually combined does not an instance of fate make.
But Biz and Brianne, I met them truly randomly. At a sports league mixer where I subtly insulted one of their friends? Yeah, I'd call that random. I met them when I hadn't made any friends yet. Not people I liked, not people I wanted to spend time around. Specifically, not people I could talk to and meet up with nearly every week. Without them, I don't think I would have been quite so happy in Chattanooga. I don't know if I would have stayed so long. What would I have done without our Ladies' Nights where we could get together and gossip? What would life be without going to silly parties and playing Hide and Go Seek? Who else to brunch with on Sunday when you're setting yourself right? What if my introduction to them hadn't emboldened me to go keep exploring and find all my other Chattanooga good people?
Aside from the tremendous fun, they gave me hope one could make adult friends. It takes persistence and luck, continually throwing yourself into situations where you could meet new people, even though most of the time you won't. Sometimes you get lucky though. Sometimes you get the people that you can fall in-step with so easily. Sometimes it's worth all the hassle.
Not to mention, with Brianne came Marsh and from Marsh came Gardner, and every so often I like to tell him, "Gee, and I would have never even met you, my wondrous boyfriend, if I hadn't dissed some guy at a bar."