Friend #48: Melissa

From Feed with Carly I took the bus past Humboldt Park to Old Town near Lincoln Park.  Seriously, I love public transportation in Chicago.  I met up with college friend Melissa for coffee.  Melissa and I had a lot of mutual friends in college.  One spring break, a group of us went on a work trip down to Jackson, Mississippi to work with a community development organization (a trip I mentioned in my post about Nathan).  On the drive from Michigan to Mississippi, Melissa and I were in a car with a group of girls.  We got into some pretty intense and emotional conversations where we shared a lot.  At one point, the caravan stopped at a rest stop and all of us got out of our car wiping tears out of our eyes.  A few hours later at another stop, there were more remnants of tears.  The leader looked at me and said, “What are you doing to them, Ann?!”  I do have a tendency to take things to a deeper place, which is why I appreciate Melissa.  Her tendency is to be much more light-hearted, fun-loving, and easy-going.  So the tears were definitely interspersed with guffaws and belly laughs courtesy of Melissa.

The two things I know about Melissa’s life as of late, courtesy of Facebook, is that she’s recently started a new job, and that she’s taken up triathlons.  Now, I’ve seen many a cartoon or joke about what the phenomenon of Facebook has done to conversation.  “Oh, I saw that you did a triathlon.”  “Yup.”  “And you started a new job?”  “Yeah, last week.”  Conversation over.  And I have myself had conversations like that.  But what I love about this trip is that I get to hear the stories behind the publicly posted highlights, the anecdotal snippets of life that add a richness to the basic information–a juxtaposition of the knowing of knowledge and facts against the knowing of familiarity.  So Melissa, being Melissa, told me a hilarious story about a fiasco during a recent training session for her upcoming triathlon, which I never would have heard unless we were sitting face to face.  Oh wait, no, she did actually post about it on Facebook, because she’s like that.  But rather than chuckling at my computer back in Los Angeles, we were laughing out loud together.  It makes a difference.

As for the new job, Melissa actually works from home, which presents its own set of challenges.  I don’t know if I could handle the isolation (says the girl who is visiting hundreds of friends), but I would love the independence.  Or working in my pajamas.  In which case, the term “work” in work from home might be used more loosely.  Melissa is newly navigating all of this, as she does online promotion for a conglomerate of hotels.  It’s a field that she fell into pretty much accidentally, but it’s something that she’s grown into making a career out of…with her degree in Russian (and psychology, but seriously, people–Russian!  So cool).  She uses social media a lot in her current position, to promote different hotels.  Apparently, the realm of social media marketing is where outlets like Facebook and Twitter are growing the most, and positions like Melissa’s are popping up everywhere.  The perks with this kind of position in the hotel industry are also pretty stellar.  She generously offered any assistance should I need a hotel along the way for my trip.

Before I took off, we headed next door so Melissa could get some goggles for her next race.  There are quite a lot of factors to consider when selecting a pair of goggles.  I had no idea!  I had to leave before she’d decided on a pair, so I guess I’ll have to wait for her to post pictures of the race to find out the verdict.  In the meantime, Melissa and her twin brother will be celebrating their birthdays tomorrow.  Happy Birthday, Melissa!

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