The following night I have a mild anxiety attack. Tonight is the lecture-reception event in a fellow alumni’s home. The one where an instructor from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is presenting Three Different Ways That New York Might Be Under Water in a Hundred Years.
There is a one part of me that thinks, this is a great way to meet new people. Then there is the other part of me that is getting “shyer” as I get older. Maybe shy is not the correct word. I used to be tough, invincible, and I backed down from nothing. I was unshockable, unshakable. I used to be an Advisor to my sorority’s chapter at the University of Minnesota. If I could handle what 80 girls who average age was 20, tossed my way, I should be to handle a lecture in New York. But I am nervous at the prospect of meeting strangers.
I arrive at the Alumni’s stunning brownstone just as the light rain turns into fierce pellets of water that sting my skin. I stow my umbrella into a stand and enter the foyer where wine and snacks are set up. Interesting, is what our endowment goes towards? Currently I still owe money on my graduate school loan – but someday, maybe I will be flush with cash, rather than getting by and able to contribute to the great coffers of my alma mater.
From the foyer, I am ushered into the living room, where I manage to make small talk with some alums who are 20 years older than me. They are all Arts and Science majors, so the fact that I majored in architecture fascinates them. They seem even more fascinated when I tell them I am a deplorable architect and really didn’t enjoy my major. “Wow,” says one woman. “I didn’t think any of you were allowed to desecrate the program. I dated a guy for two years who lived in the architecture building and he was a little holier than thou about it.” “That’s because we’re a feeder school for Harvard and Columbia and they like to think of themselves as Frank Gehry in the making. Their egos were more than I could handle, that’s for sure,” I reply. “Yes, I agree – I dumped that guy,” the woman says.
After the sojourn in the living room we are whisked away to the finished basement – this brownstone is AMAZING. Here is where the lecture occurs. It is very interesting with charts and graphs. My two take aways are one, Washington Heights (where I live) is the highest point on the island and will be the last part to be under water in 100 years. Two, 96th Street on the East Side is the closest to sea level and will be under water first. Mental note to self, don’t move there.
As the night unwinds, I learn that the Alumni who invited us to her home, works in one of the big publishing houses. Click, click, click. Life Coach’s words come back to me. Be bold. Toot your horn. Toss laurels to the wind. I take the last couple sips of my wine and walk over to the Alumni.
“Thank you so much for opening your home to us tonight,” I say. “My pleasure. I think the other alum clubs in NY are better at supporting one another, and I'd like to see us develop a better program," she explains. “I’d like to cash in on your offer to support one another. I have a collection of short stories that I’d like to discuss with you. I don’t expect anything from you or your publishing house – just 30 minutes to glean some bits and bubs of wisdom,” I say boldly. “Sure, here’s my card, call my office for an appointment,” she replies.
Wow. I made one ask and got acceptance, could my luck be changing? Can I get a woot woot?!