I thought Junior High was far behind me.
One summer day in 2011 it came back in full force.
From what seemed like out of the blue, I was graciously invited to spend the day on the Mississippi River with some co-workers. These were not just any co-workers, they were the 'cool' co-workers; leaders in their field, super-smart, amazing coders, athletic, and they were all friends.
Me? I'm just a "user experience" guy. A smiley loner of sorts at work. A 'hack' developer at best (I was OK years ago, but my focus on design these many years made my detailed coding skills rust).
But I like these guys and I'm always told I should step out more. One even personally encouraged me since he knew our destination and knew it would be a great day.
The morning arrived. I took a big breath, left work, and drove to meet them. It was a beautiful morning!! Perfect weather, and a day on a boat and jet-ski was very exciting to anticipate.
The fact that I felt like I was 'skipping school' was not lost on me. The last time I felt like that was as a senior in high school when it was just...too...nice out to go back after lunch. We drove to Wayzata beach and just hung out (and happily stayed in detention the next rainy day).
We got to the river (one of the guys lives on the river), and loaded up. We packed lunches and boated out.
What a treat! The current kept the water fairly clear, and it was warm and deep. The sand dunes (from dredging?) on the shore reminded me of a rolling desert.
We stopped on one, climbed it, skipped down it, and played frisbee and football. I chose frisbee because I'm pretty good at it...and most of these guys were quarterback types so I knew I was out of my league throwing football. Turns out I was out of my league at frisbee, too. I just didn't throw like I normally do...and they threw awesomely. Junior High inferiority struck again and affected my throws, conversations, and I even felt like I stood awkwardly.
...and then we got out the water skis.
MAN these guys were good! It was quite fun watching them, but while I can water ski, it's been years since I slalomed, so I ended up frolicking on the jet-ski. I love those things and had a blast. They had a blast too skiing. I would follow the boat like a dolphin following a ship. We switched around and I rode while looking at bald eagles flying over whoever was skiing.
It was a nearly perfect day, capped off by an evening campfire.
At the end we said our goodbyes, and I drove home.
I was grateful for the day: the invite, the amazing weather, the hospitality, the water toys, the conversation, the frisbee, the break from a very difficult spell at work, and most of all: the possibility that the 'cool' kids (even if temporarily) thought enough of me to want me around...
...or maybe they just needed someone to drive the jet-ski around while they were skiing so it was nearby when they wanted to ride it :-)
Regardless, thank you.
It's a day I'll not soon forget.