Human beings are creatures of habit and ritual. We always have been. For some of us it's church or the gym, morning rituals to get your mind ready for the day, a lucky sequence of events before a sporting event, or a place where we go, some thing that we do during the week. There are names for every ritual we have, whether shared or solely ours. A strong ritual in Charleston is Sunday brunch, the kickoff to "Sunday Funday" and our great hoorah to end our week with some fun and relaxation. These are our private worlds, our personal kingdoms, our place away from the week. So it was pretty incredible when Jamison and Sam Cary invited me to join them for brunch, to break bread and find some fun on this day before the work week.
Jamison and I have run into each other at a couple of events, he works in telecom sales and he loves what he does. It's not an unusual thing to meet people who love what they do. The problem solving and relationship building are things he enjoys. Sam is a mechanical engineer who loves dogs and music. Originally from Massachusetts, they came to Charleston a little over four years ago to start there own chapter, away from the constant pull of family. They made this place their own. It is often said that no one in Charleston is actually from here, and that is not entirely untrue, but it is a city of expats from around the country who fell in love with the beaches and the marshes, the food and the weather, then stayed.
None of us really like networking, not in the traditional business sense. It seems false. Sam and Jamison are relationship builders, you can tell after sitting with them for a few moments. They both have warm smiles, the kind of couple that makes a table at a local spot feel like the dinner table in their home. Maybe it has something to do with me being there, but I cannot help but get the impression that these two could make people feel welcome anywhere. That is a rare thing, and incredible to witness.
When I arrived for brunch we fell straight into conversation, telling stories and asking questions, like I was seeing old friends rather than making new ones. That's the currency between old friends, between all people actually, stories. Sam and I have a common background in Germany. She studied in Dresden, I was stationed in Frankfurt, and we both love Berlin. We trod the same roads just at different times. Towards the end of the meal, she tells a story about almost being mugged in Rome, well on the outskirts. She says there's not much to the story, I tell her never to undersell. Sam is trying to pick the guitar back up after a bit of an absence. Jamison tells me about his love of real maple syrup, from his growing up in the north, and how the stuff on our plates is disappointing. It's a treasure and a curse, this knowledge of how good something can be. The treasure of the memory, the curse of its absence in your current reality.
We talk a lot about experiences, about how we can miss so much in a given day by taking things for granted. Jamison and Sam read the post about George (Connection 20) and his great video game wisdom. That leads us to reflect on what wisdom we might have missed by not getting to know someone better. If we are all gifted with some little piece, some gem of wisdom we see and carry, voicing it in our own way, then every person we don't connect with is potentially another lesson lost. It's enough to drive you insane really. You will never connect with every person, learn everything, so you should appreciate the ones you can connect with and take the opportunities presented to you.
To a casual observer in the restaurant this morning we looked like any of a dozen tables. Just a few people sitting down, swapping stories over french toast and fried chicken biscuits. Remember in the stories, when magical things always appeared mundane to others unless they were supposed to see or paid special attention? Well, it's the same with that table. To a casual observer, just another brunch. To me, at that table, it was a bit of Sunday morning magic I have associated for years with Charleston.
Jamison, Sam and I, sitting at a table that felt a lot more personal, more like on you'd find in a home, freely swapping laughter and stories. Monday may be coming, but we took the time Sunday to know each other, to connect and see what we could learn. They opened their ritual to me, their Sunday, and that made all the difference.
Favorite Dinosaur: Velociraptor
Why: Fast, smart and intelligent