Quest for connection
At first, I was the only one at the long table. I opened up my laptop, started surfing around and doing my very best to avoid the work I had intended to get done. Then, one person at a time, the long table started to fill up.
They were all strangers, as each time someone showed up, it was a round of introductions all around. They were strangers, but it was far from a random gathering, rather some planned encounter, a confluence of lonely souls longing for connection. There was nothing lurid about it, rather innocent and awkward, rolled up in a healthy dose of "why is this so difficult?"
"How long have you been here?" asked one young lady to another.
"Only a couple of months."
"Oh," she replied. "You're brand new."
And on it went: strangers trying to find a commonality, something to grab hold of, to take this hopeful collision to a better place, a bastion of fellowship, fun and possibly - if everything worked out perfectly - friendship.
I sat there wondering how they conspired to meet. Was it on Kijiji or some other website that caters to this kind of thing. Let me go check.
(insert pause here)
Well, I think I might have found it. Through Kijiji I discovered a group that caters to those in the 20 to 30 age range who are bored and want to get out and involved in the community. They run a website (that I couldn't get to work) at www.meetup.com/fort-mcmurray-do-something and make it very clear that it is not a dating site. Check out the awesome description here.
I have no idea if the group of strangers commiserating at Starbucks tonight is associated with this website, but it sure sounds like a match. If I was single and alone in Fort McMurray trying to build a life, that is the type of group that would catch my attention. It was an equal mix of males and females, and a melange of cultures, accents, skin tones and backgrounds. It was delightful to watch, for the short time that I was there. This is one of the aspects of Fort McMurray that excites me: young people coming here intent on making a go of it, trusting that it's all going to work out, and that they will not only survive in this northern place; they will thrive.
I'm hopeful for the young people sitting at the long table tonight. They have come up out of their basement suites and lonely apartments and are leaving it all out on the field, or in this case, the coffee shop. They are all winners in my book.