Friday, March 31, 2006

Ode to the Randoms

I just got home from Eveline's 26th Birthday party. I had to leave relatively early, because I'm heading out to DC tomorrow morning for the 10 mile Cherry Blossom race on Sunday. I've never run 10 miles before, so it'll be a challenge, but I have friends cheering me on, and the route should be beautiful, so I'm looking forward to it.

I'm posting this now because Eveline's birthday reminds me of a year ago--the rest of our year would be completely altered by the people we met that night.

I started writing this post about six months ago but never finished it. But now, on the anniversary of Eveline and my birth and start of the genesis of the Randoms, I thought I'd finally get it out. Plus, it's been way too long since my last entry.

As I mentioned, Eveline and I say that it all started at her 25th Birthday party at Uncle Ming's last April 1. By this time, she and I were hanging out all the time, as both of us had recently gotten out of long-term relationships. We were going out, hanging out with different groups, excited to meet new people. Her guest list for her party was huge, people from every corner of her life were invited. Her party filled the bar.

At one point later in the night I ran into Eveline and she said, "You should talk to this guy Lee, he works with robot rats--so cool!" Later that night I ended up dancing with Sarah and some random people who I introduced myself to and found out that one of them was the aforementioned Lee. Another was Miguel.

This was the night Eveline and I were born, as we say now.

Dsc00922If you look back at the pictures from Eveline's party, it Dsc00918looks like they're her close friends, when in truth she barely knew them. I ended up hanging out with them for the rest of the night. They were fun and interesting. They had been invited to the party because Miguel was the brother of Jorge, who had dated one of Eveline's best friends.

The next day I found Lee on friendster and sent him a message. He added me to an evite for Miguel's Games Night. Then I ended up on some mass email list he had called "Shit happening this week." I forwarded it to Eveline. "What the heck is this all about?" she didn't know. It was a compilation of different parties and events of people I didn't know--and it was sent to at least 50 people who I also didn't know. I think we found out later that Lee sent out two emails to two groups of 50 people. And if his connection to other people on the list were as tenuous as he and my connection, then there were a lot of random people on the list. And Lee didn't even make it a practice to actually go to many of the events he emailed other people about, something that Eveline and I found incredibly strange.

I kept getting the invites to Games, but I was always busy on Sunday nights and never ended up making it. Eveline went a few times, and the second time was invited to go with them to Founder's Day at Vassar where they went to school. So she went. Had a blast. James became her new best friend. For a time we were calling them Jeveline because they hung out so much.

Then came a free beer event at Happy Ending. I went to see Kung Fu Hustle first Dsc01029_1with Eveline and James--that was the first time I met James. At Happy Ending I met up with some of my friends, and some of the group soon to be known as the Randoms. I met Matieu and Annabelle for the first time.

Then my roommates and I decided to throw our first bash since I moved in on our rooftop. I joked to Eveline that the party would end up on Lee's email. I was shocked that it actually did, but although I complained, I ended up hanging out with the Randoms for most of the night.

We went to Session 73 afterwards, and Joe saved me from some leering scary guy. They all insisted on putting me in a cab to go around the block so that he wouldn't see where I lived, which I thought was crazy since I only lived half a block away. But that did it: I felt cared for by these people I barely knew.

That sealed my fate. I was now part of the Randoms myself.

There were some Frenchies (including Matieu and Annabelle) who are members of the Randoms, who were here for about 9 months doing internships. For weeks leading up to when they were to leave NY, we would go out almost every single night together. It got so bad that sitting once at dinner on a Sunday night, we had trouble remembering what we had done the previous night, Friday night, Thursday night, etc. It was frightening. And yet fabulous.

We can't quite remember who first used the term Randoms or who named the group. I think it came out of Eveline and I recounting a random adventure to coworkers at lunch, and one of our friends asking, "So, who are these guys?" and us not wanting to go through the complications of explaining it and saying, "Oh, they're just random." Some of the Randoms took/take offense to the name we gave to the group. But it's not meant in a disparaging way. It just refers to the way we met them, the way they're all connected, the way we all hang out, the kinds of adventures we have.

We've all since figured out how we all know each other, and although some are the usual (we work together, we went to school together, we met at a party), many of the connections are, well, random. When asked, "How do you guys know each other?" we always groan and don't always answer. But let's use me and Matieu as an example: "Uh, well, I work with Eveline, and her friend dated this guy Jorge for a long time, and Jorge's brother is Miguel, and Miguel went to school with James, and James works with Charlie, and Charlie's old roommate was Annabelle, and Annabelle went to business school in Paris with Matieu!"

When I think about who my close friends are now, the connections are generally pretty clear. We went to HS or college together. We work together. We live together. Occasionally there's a random connection--perhaps someone is a friend of a friend. And I love and appreciate all of my friends. But I love how random the Randoms are. I smile when I think of them. They are full of energy, joy, adventures. They are friendly and welcoming. They are also all unique individuals full of idiosyncrasies and personality. We are an urban tribe.

Someone told me once that the group was masterminded by Lee, that he had a vision for this large group of people with no real connections to each other, yet hang out all the time. If this was his plan, I would have to say that it has succeeded. We've also since determined that Miguel is also a central member, that he works hard to pull in these random people he deems worthy to hang out with.
So who are the Randoms? We're fun, adventurous, and up for anything. We write funny (sometimes), entertaining (usually), and distracting (always) emails all day long. We send emails and text messages with fun stuff to do constantly. And much 57713662_d54585690eof it is free/cheap. We have and go to lots of parties. We're not shy about expressing our affection to each other, both physically (gotta love the hugs!) and verbally. We make (most) people at ease with our openness and acceptance. We probably annoy some people by invading parties and events of strangers and making them our own. We have a lot of Peripherals around to keep the mix fresh. We're a diverse bunch in terms of ethnicity, nationality, gender, and age. We hang out often and know each other well--and yet don't know much about each other at all. Even after the first six months of hanging out, I realized that I had no idea what some of them did for a living, whether they were in relationships or not, where people grew up, where they went to school, if they have siblings, etc. It's mostly about knowing personalities, having fun, caring for one another, getting to know each other slowly.

At the end of the summer I was thinking about the Randoms and how much I like everyone and enjoy hanging out with them and being part of them, and feeling this glow, this wonderful feeling of goodwill towards all. A few days later at one of my BBQs, Miguel said, in front of several other people (including his mother, I think), something about how I was such a nice person and how they all liked me so much and were glad to know me. (Of course, I think this was motivated by the fact that we were having a BBQ on my terrace, and he wanted to ensure that there would be future BBQs on my terrace) I said something, like "I love all you guys, too! You're so awesome" and Jorge or someone said, "That didn't sound very convincing." But I meant it, and that's part of the reason why I decided to write this post. Maybe it's corny, but it's true. Thus, my "Ode to the Randoms"!
So to all you Randoms and Peripherals out there, you rock! I'm so glad you're in my life. Here's to many more random adventures! Happy Anniversary, Lee, Miguel, and Joe. And Happy Birthday, Eveline. I can't wait to hear about the further adventures of the night.