I have never been in a situation before where I am surrounded by people who all share a different profession than my own. I know that teachers are odd people, and when you break us down into our sub-groups (ECE v. elementary v. middle v. high, electives v. core, math/science v. arts v. P.E., etc.) we only get weirder. But teachers are my people; I know what to expect from them and what's expected of me. So when Jason invited me to come along as his "plus one" to a couple of events this weekend, it was with some trepidation as well as a great deal of curiosity that I accepted.
The first event was a "casual garden dinner party" hosted for the summer associates by one of the partners at Jason's firm. We, of course, had to discuss at length just what one wears to a "casual garden dinner party" especially when one is living out of a suitcase. Outfit #1 (floor-length indigo knit jersey dress) was dismissed as being too formal, but Outfit #2 (jeans, heels, purple dress shirt) was approved. (Incidentally, as someone who was late to catch on to even basic rules and proprieties of fashion, having a friend who a) knows the rules and b) will answer me honestly when I ask for his opinion is enormously helpful.) As some of the people at the party were in three-piece suits made casual by the absence of a tie, we may have erred on the side of underdressing but we were not the least formally dressed, so I count it as a win.
The hostess had name tags available for all of the guests. I am a big fan of name tags at such social gatherings (and church. Church should have name tags as a mandatory part of all activities, in my opinion. They do so much to alleviate some of the initial social guards people uphold), but these took it a step higher by being color coded - red border for associates/partners at the firm, blue border for summer associates, no border for the "plus ones." I would have joked about the color-segregation had the waitstaff not been all African-American and the other attendees so predominately white.
Between the pressures of the dress decisions and the nature of the event itself, I was nervous. However, I found that a) few people there knew each other, so introductions and small talk were the norm for the evening and b) lawyers are often socially awkward people. Jason's quite the anomaly, in fact. The food was good, the conversation generally flowed, and when it didn't the people I was speaking to were such interesting characters that their personalities made up for the stilted lack of social graces. As a bonus, Jason and I spent a lot of time reaping information from a couple who had honeymooned in Morocco. Score!
Still, I was surrounded by lawyers and, as would happen at any work event, the talk frequently turned to things I knew nothing about. I followed what I could in the conversations, but could contribute little. Granted, that was due in part to the fireflies. There were only a few in the garden, but I was still delighted and fascinated by the wee green lights that would suddenly drift through the air. No one else paid any attention, calloused as these east-coast dwellers are to the glowing natural magic that I, the mountain/desert girl, am so easily entertained by.
With the more stressful event behind us, tonight we went to a dinner party hosted by a couple from Jason's ward. I felt far more comfortable going into this gathering - although the men were all lawyers (one a corporate lawyer, one wrapping up a clerkship for a Supreme Court justice), they were also all Mormon. These rules I know. There were times when the wives and I had little to contribute as the men talked shop, but generally the conversation moved through a variety of topics and I, once again, enjoyed myself.
Both events did bring to mind something Jason has suggested repeatedly - I may not be living in a place that is socially healthy for me. I really like being around young, smart, driven professionals. Even though I often feel like my particular career choice is less respected in these circles, I enjoy that kind of company and the socializing that happens there. And although the schedule and work hours I keep are certainly factors in my less-than-satisfactory social life, I do not live or work in places where I can interact with the type of people I'm attracted to, let alone people my own age. I don't know if I am willing to walk away from my job, my in-town family, and my home (my soggy, soggy home) to pursue a life in an area with more of the type of people I like to be around, but it is something I need to consider in the weeks to come.