July 28, 2020 - Wow time passes and 11 years later, the introduction of this Tin Box memory is more meaningful than ever. The rest of the story equally important as we look to stay connected and close to our past, present, and future! Hoping when the dust settles, we'll find time to create a new memory for the next 11 years.
After an evening with dear friends, who are also colleagues, I came home and was overwhelmed by the experience. I felt compelled to do what I have been doing my whole life, write.
I am learning more and more about the importance of friends in my life and the need to cherish times together. Not to let too much time lapse between gatherings or communication. The history and memories we share are part of the fabric of our lives. And though we can always make new friends, there's something wonderful about the sharing of history when you can turn to someone and say, "Remember when....?"
Over and over I've said, "I believe in kismet." Fate! People ask how I became a writer and got into tourism and writing. I always say that this is what I was meant to do. Kismet. When it comes to history, I remember so many details...moments in time that others often forget. I am a keeper of history. It's crazy but it ties me to people who have brought meaning to my life— part of my past and present and, without question, the future.
The friends who gathered on this particular evening, each has a place in my history banks. Lucy Steffens was the first to cross my path when I did the "internship from Hell" at Visit Sacramento back in 1990. I can still see the old office space and the desk where I sat in the middle of the room. Who could imagine that 21 years later we would be sharing drinks? I am pretty certain I cried on Lucy's shoulder more than once and envied her intern who seemed to be having better luck than me. While my internship "boss" at Visit Sacramento didn't deliver on any of her promises to write for and be published in the bureau’s magazine, I did learn about one very important thing: The California Office of Tourism (COT).
I interviewed for a job with a very young Joe D'Alessandro and a REALLY young Terry Selk. It was a contract position with the California Tourism Corporation, a consulting firm. It was something to do with international travel and sounded very exotic. Terry wanted to hire me. Joe didn't and he had the final say. (Thanks Joe!) They hired an equally young Tom Horman. That was the best thing that ever happened to me—them hiring Tom— though I didn’t realize it at the time. Some months later the contract budget was reduced and Tom was out of a job.
Meanwhile, I applied for a job as an office assistant for the State of California. Where? Why the California Office of Tourism! Go figure. I remember being interviewed by senior staffers Flo, Diane, and Tiffany in a claustrophobic conference room with no windows. Kismet intervened again because Flo (Director) lived next door to my mom's best friend. While I like to think it was my charm and good looks that landed me the job, I still thank Bernice Slater for getting my foot in the door. Little did I know.
On September 4, 1990, I started my first day with COT at the glamorous and historic Senator Hotel. No one warned me about the lunacy I was entering. But there I was with program managers Sharon, Tom, Fred, Terry, and Joe. Even then their pranks were what kept us going. I remember Sharon. I can see exactly where you were sitting. Dahlynn and I were at the front phones with Pat guarding the passage to Flo's office. Bonnie was back in the corner. God, what insanity!
Over the years, I worked with each of you -- giving and taking experiences that have helped shape my life (and yours) and guide me as a better writer. Especially Sharon who so generously gave of her time and "raised me up" before she got out of Dodge and moved to Tennessee.
It was great to be together the other night. Laughing, remembering, sharing, and hoping that it won't be too many years before we do this again. Or even one on one. I want to say thank you for the gift of your presence in my life. (Okay I will stop now....me and my sentimental ways).
Barbara L. Steinberg
July 28, 2011