This weekend I'm away from my family, in New York City for a first-year associates' training. All the first year associates firmwide are here in Times Square. There are somewhere between 80 and 100 of us. And, well, I'm feeling pretty darn old.
Last night we arrived just in time for the cocktail hour. The food was yummy and the wine was nice. But, well, I pretty much suck at small talk. I suppose not always. I mean, I'm a talker. But I had trouble finding common ground. I'd met a couple really nice, friendly people early on. Then I felt my phone ring, and I saw it was a message from the school district. So I disappeared into the coat closet to listen to the message (over 300 students and 20 staff members lost their homes in the wild fires last week). I scared the heck out of an associate in the San Francisco office who had stepped into the coat closet to hang up her coat. But we got to talking. And she was super cool, so that was nice. I met some other nice San Francisco folks, a couple interesting people from Silicon Valley. And (finally) it was time for dinner.
I was put in a group of 8 to go to Bobby Flay's (is that how you spell his name?) restaurant Bar Americain, where I indulged in some rib eye, some asparagus, and a diet coke. Everyone seemed really . . . well, young. They chatted on and on about the cooking channel (yes, I realize Top Chef has nothing to do with age). Then the subject turned to Saved by the Bell and I knew I was in trouble. I couldn't even remember screeches name. And my childhood shows-- 90210 and Melrose Place-- were apparently popular while the other 7 people in my group were in middle school.
No one else was married or had kids. Everyone else, except my friend from the San Diego office, had essentially gone straight through from undergrad to law school, and most of them were graduates of big-name schools-- Stanford, Yale, Boalt, and Harvard.
At one point I asked a San Francisco associate who had mentioned a couple times that her brothers live in San Francisco if she lived with either of her brothers. I figured this was an innocent enough question. After all, I lived with my older brother when he was a first year associate. And even after I moved out, my younger brother moved in-- and lived with Bob through Bob's marriage and the birth of Bob's first child. Bob was in his early 30s when Bryan got married and moved out.
Anyway, she scrunched up her face and said, "Ew. No. I mean, I couldn't live with my brother. He's old. He's 32."
I laughed heartily and said I didn't think 32 was old-- I'm 33 and will be 34 next month. And besides, I explained, my brother had one of us living with him well into his thirties. Heck, depending on how you look at it, my sister still lives with him (albeit in a separate apartment in his building, but she hangs out in the main house a lot). And then we promptly changed the subject.
But I couldn't shake feeling old. All day long. I called home throughout the day to see how the kids were doing (Marcie was hanging out with Aunt Megan and Casey had a blast at Kaitlyn's birthday party, but baseball and music class were canceled because of the fires). And I missed them terribly. All day long.
Of course I'm not the oldest person here. And I'm not the only first year associate who has kids. And I'm over-reacting and feeling academically insecure. But still. . .
Tonight's event went better. Well, after getting lost finding our way to the dinner location. We went the wrong way down 40th. Then later discovered the place wasn't on West 40th, but West 39th. We found it eventually, grabbed the sparkling wine, then jumped into place chopping herbs, mushrooms, garlic, and onion for the portion of dinner we were making. Next we moved to wine-tasting. Followed by a delicious meal with another 3 wines. Then a tiramisu dessert with a dessert wine. Conversation flowed more easily tonight. I sat next to a New York associate whose wife is from China and has a 5 year old and a one year old. Also at the table was a small group of associates from the D.C. office. Their office sounds pretty entertaining.
After dinner, we walked around a bit, and then my friend Jennie and I bumped into one of those D.C. associates in the lobby of our swank hotel. They were getting ready to head out (and we're off to bed), but Jennie had a little more than half a giant bottle of Saki left from dinner last night, so she gave it to them. They were shocked. And thrilled. And they invited us to go to the village with them (I had to ask if that meant Greenwich Village-- it does). We declined. I told them we're too old and couldn't handle anymore liquor tonight. We all laughed. Then we headed up to our rooms and they headed out.
I'm feeling much better about the people. Still old, though. And still missing my family.