The training is light and relaxed. I avoid wearing my name tag, but not the awkward round of introductions everyone has to make around the class. We finish early for the day, and I wonder if there’ll be a test at the end as part of my certification.
I vaguely remember that Dave Seah, my online mentor and personal coach, lives in New Hampshire. We met four years ago when I joined 9rules, and immediately developed a connection. His writing, ideas, and achievements have always inspired me, and he’s been the only person to make a guest post on my blog.
I call him, and as fate would have it, he lives 10 minutes from my hotel. For years, I’ve wondered if he had a New Hampshire accent, and I finally find out he speaks just like me.
Dave picks me up and whisks me away to Factory 99, an open artist studio converted from an old factory, to meet Sid. Sid is a photographer trying to turn his passion into his living. I see his photos, and pick his brain about off-camera flashes, exposure, post-processing, backdrops, and lighting for much longer than I should have. I can’t even explain how many questions he’s answered. I feel like I’ve been through a workshop, and leave with an urgency to try everything I’ve learned. It’s easy to see why Dave is such good friends with him, and the synergy continues.
From there we take a stroll to downtown and onto Main Street. It’s only sunset, and many stores are closed, a sign of the economic downturn. It’s a small city we’re in1, and there’s almost nothing of note, save for the triangle manhole covers.
We make a quick stop at his house, nestled among evergreens and a cosy part of town, to check on a turkey he’s been slow cooking. I finally get a chance to see his studio in real life. I recognize the laptop he purchased for his project. I see his handwriting. His gun vault. His OLPC laptop. His cats. All the little details I’ve glimpsed from his photos are in front of me now.
We look for a place to have dinner, and decide on some Asian food. He takes us to a Korean/Japanese restaurant. I let him order everything for the both of us. Just from hearing him describe the unagi, I can tell he’s one of the few people who analyze and study and appreciate food the way I do.
Over our steaming bowls of rice and tea, we talk as if we’ve known each other our entire lives. I realize just how similar we are, how we’re at the same stage in life, both self-aware, emotionally intelligent, wondering the same things, figuring out the mysteries of life, and trying to sustain ourselves on what we love doing.
I don’t feel so alone anymore.
- Compared to Ottawa, at least, at only one tenth the population [↩]