Drink 39: Zeitgeist

The Date: July 31

The Friend: Jaime Lang

The Place: Hanover Street Chophouse, Manchester, NH

The Drink: Zeitgeist, red wine


JaimeThe Story: Jaime was one of the earliest volunteers with the Manchester Young Professionals Network. She joined the social committee and became someone I could count on to show up at meetings and events. She had great energy and quickly became one of our go-to committee members.

We worked together a lot those first couple of years, as MYPN was getting going and developed a pretty close friendship. Jaime was around a lot. On Friday nights, when we’d go out downtown, she’d pack a bag and just assume that it was going to be fun, we were going to let loose, and she was going to crash in the loft. Before long, she had a toothbrush with her name on it in my guest bathroom.

These were the Andy years, there was usually something interesting going on and Jaime was always up for an adventure. One year, Andy was working at a radio station and the three of us ended up marching in the First Night parade in Boston with the radio van, handing out buttons and stickers and other promotional geegaws. The parade was followed by a tour of the ice sculptures in Boston Common and dinner at Scollay Square, a restaurant Howard turned me onto at lunch a few months before.

I think Andy got the original tickets to the Boston Wine Expo, an event Jaime and I attended together for five years.

A few years into our friendship, there was a moment where I really needed her to help me in a jam. The details aren’t important now but the jam was a huge deal to me at the time. She didn’t come through for me and I was crushed. And pissed. It caused a pretty big rift in our friendship. From then on, we weren’t nearly as close and we stopped hanging out with any regularity.

This is one of my biggest challenges and one that I’ve been working on for a long time. I know, and I have been told, that I have a tendency to expect too much of the people around me. That leads to me getting hurt and them letting me down – not a great combination for a friendship, or relationship of any kind.

I would do almost anything for my friends. It’s just who I am. Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes it means I can be a little too much. My challenge has been identifying where you are and what you can reasonably give, and then meeting you there.

I’m like an alcoholic. An alcoholic can’t have just a little booze. I’m a love-aholic. If I think or know you love me even a little, then I love you back ALL THE WAY, and sometimes that’s too much. Besides, it’s not you that lets me down; it’s me that sets up that dynamic. It’s happened more times than I care to admit and my history is littered with people who I used to be great friends with.

In the years since, I’ve seen Jaime regularly at MYPN events, at Chamber of Commerce events, at social events. We’ve found a really nice dynamic. We’re always sincerely happy to see one another and we catch up like old friends, sometimes at events and sometimes over drinks. The really interesting thing about Jaime, though, is that she’s always been around, just on the edges of my life. She never really went away, and I’ve always been glad about that.

Recently, we were at a Chamber event and I was following her around meeting people. I’m not out networking as much as I used to be and she’s the Chair of the Chamber’s Ambassador Committee (among other things) and she knows everyone. I had to laugh when I said to her, “remember when YOU used to follow ME around at events?”

As The 40 Drinks project was coming to a close, I was thinking about who I wanted to be in those last couple of spots. When I started, it seemed difficult to think that I’d find 40 people to have drinks with. Towards the end, I started getting a little more thoughtful about who those last few people would be. Jaime popped into my mind and I just started nodding. Yup. Of course.

I texted her and she was, of course, out at a networking event but ready to meet me right after. And then a wonderful thing happened. We were having our drink, and talking about our friendship and that long-ago bump that bruised our friendship came up.

When I explained to her what happened, and what it meant to me, she was aghast. She had no idea – no idea of how important it was to me (at the time), no idea how much it hurt my feelings. And she looked me square in the eye and apologized. Then she told me about some stuff I had done that was hurtful to her, which I acknowledged, and apologized for. And we raised our glasses, full of really nice red wine, clinked them together and turned the page in our friendship.

ZeitgeistThe Drink: For five years, Jaime and I went to the Boston Wine Expo together. Some years other people were part of the event, too, but it really became our thing. The last year we went, we weren’t even hanging out on a regular basis. Jaime lucked into VIP tickets, called me and said “I knew I had to ask you to go with me. It just wouldn’t be right to take anyone else.”

So, we knew we had to drink wine for our drink but, typically, we don’t actually like the same wines – especially reds. The Chop House has a great wine list, though, and the GM, who is a friend of hers, helped us pick something that was a) delicious and b) something we both loved.

Interestingly, as the 39th drink of 40, the idea of “zeitgeist” is particularly apropos as well.

According to Wikipedia: “The German word Zeitgeist is often attributed to the philosopher Georg Hegel, but he never actually used the word. In his works such as Lectures on the Philosophy of History, he uses the phrase der Geist seiner Zeit (the spirit of his time)—for example, ‘no man can surpass his own time, for the spirit of his time is also his own spirit.’”

By the end of this project, I think “der Geist ihrer Zeit” (changed for the feminine, thanks to Google Translate), is an apt description since the spirit of my time was also a spirit (pun intended).

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