Saturday, August 05, 2006

Reconnection ...

In 2000, five days after signing my mortgage, I found out that I was losing my job.

Believer that I am that everything happens the way it's supposed to, I wasn't altogether dismayed by the loss of the job. The universe has a repeated way of kicking me out of the nest.

Paul, my boss at Thomson, offered some sage advice as I embarked upon the new job hunt: "Buy the people." The people you work with make or break any job. When I left the Tribune, I wasn't sorry to leave a legendary paper. I was sorry to leave the people. And the same was true at Thomson: It was the people I knew I'd miss, not the work.

So thanks to a few commited colleagues, last night a group of us reconvened at Martini Ranch, our old watering hole, and caught up. It had been nearly six years since many of us had seen each other. After our little company that couldn't closed its doors (through no fault of our own; Thomson decided to get out of the newspaper business), many now-former staffers moved away. And so, yesterday, they returned. Some from Minneapolis, some from Boston, some from Scottsdale, and one, in particular, from northern England.

Warwick wasn't part of the office family. Not daily, anyway. He was a senior vice president and was stationed at headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. But Warwick, like Stuart and Terry, the CEO and another SVP, liked the Chicago crowd. They used to make up reasons to visit. And then we'd go to Martini Ranch to drink.

So last night, when Warwick, one of my favorite people on the planet, and his wife appeared on the patio at the Ranch, it felt oddly like no time had passed. And I was flattered that he liked us enough to get on a plane and fly across the Atlantic to hoist a few.

I hoisted one. With a $1 tip for the bartender, my gin and tonic set me back $10. And I wasn't sure if any of us would end up at dinner, but I knew that wine would be involved, and I had to drive.

Dine we did, at Scoozi!, which I hadn't been to in far too long. We got the biggest bottle of wine I'd ever seen. At least 8 of us were drinking and our glasses were filled more than once. Bread and pizza and pasta and wine. And laughs, just like in the good old days.

When some of my fellow diners excused themselves to the restroom, Warwick traveled down a few chairs so we could continue our earlier chat. Back at the Ranch, when I told him that I've started recording, his eyes got wide. His latest business venture is amazing-tunes.com, a community for upstart musicians, a place where they can collaborate and get exposure. I think it's cute that Warwick would be involved in a music venture. In the make-believe cast that would portray each of us if a movie were ever made of our life in the office, we'd decided that Warwick would be played by Paul McCartney. Last night, at Scoozi!, I told him so. "But," I said, "You're better-looking." And he is. Charming as all get-out and more handsome than that.

This morning, I poked around the site. The copy is cheeky. Under the "questions, questions" navigation, hotlinks will take you to "what?", "who?", "why?" "where?", "what if?", and "eh?" Well, of course I clicked on "eh?" first. And then I read, "Look, you're supposed to be smart and this is supposed to be simple. What are you, a drummer?" I laughed out loud. Very little web content makes me laugh out loud.

The dinner party reconvened for brunch today, minus a few members. No one looked too worse for the wear. But they had Bloody Marys, just in case.

I drove Warwick and his wife to Michigan Avenue so they could shop for a while. We kissed each other on the cheek and promised to keep in touch. It's comforting that though time and distance may separate us, it's so easy to reconnect.

Some bonds don't break.

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