Sunday, December 16, 2012

Photo of the Week: December 16, 2012

As a child, one of my favorite things to do was to go to Baltimore Orioles games at Memorial Stadium.  Sometimes I would go with my father, and other times I would go on trips organized by my church.  In October 2002, I went to a Braves playoff game against the San Francisco Giants.  As I waited for my friends in our designated meeting spot, I was fortunate enough to experience this incredibly painted sky.  The Braves lost that deciding game and, thus, the series to the Giants.  But I felt like a winner for getting this lasting image. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Work of the Week: December 9, 2012

Most of the time when we draw we start with a white sheet of paper and draw images on the paper using a pen or pencil.  Now imagine doing just the opposite.  Imagine starting with a black sheet of paper (or board or clay) and creating the image by scraping through the layer of black ink to reveal the white underlying layer.  That medium is known as Scratchboard.  This is one of my favorite Scratchboard images from high school.  Oh, by the way, I got an "A" on this one.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Photo of the Week: November 18, 2012

I never thought I’d miss snow.  Growing up in Maryland, there was no greater feeling than being able to stay home from school because of a snow day.  When snow was expected overnight, I’d wake up in the middle of the night and walk over to my bedroom window to see if any had actually fallen.  If it hadn’t, I’d do my homework that I thought should have done earlier.  But as an adult, winter weather has completely different implications.  Who among us wants to get out and drive in that stuff?  I quickly learned that in Atlanta and other parts of the South, they don’t get out and drive in it because everything shuts down.  Sometimes the shutdown is based on the forecast alone!  After experiencing a few southern snow “storms” I can certainly understand why.  One of those “storms” in 2010 made me realize what I miss about the snow.  I don’t actually miss the snow.  What I miss is the incredible artwork that it creates.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Photo of the Week: November 11, 2012

Back in 2008 I was asked to take photos of a few Obama campaign t-shirts.  I hired two models and off we went.  We took dozens of photos, but this was my favorite.  Although the message of "Hope" was not the dominant theme for the President's 2012 campaign, the statement made by this photo is even more relevant today than it was in 2008.  When I look at the couple, I don't see race.  I have no idea what they look like, where they're from, or what their backgrounds are.  I simply see two people united in solidarity and triumph.  Congratulations Mr. President.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Photo of the Week: November 4, 2012

One of my favorite places to visit when I want to connect with nature is Arabia Mountain in Lithonia, Georgia.  It is incredibly beautiful and serene.  I’ve watched many sunsets from the mountain but, until recently, had not enjoyed a sunrise.  A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to experience a sunrise from my secret getaway.  I looked up the sunrise time and set off into the crisp morning darkness.  The mountain was beautiful as usual, though I had never seen it at that time of day.  As I explored the mountain, I watched the sky slowly brighten as sunrise approached.  Then at 7:47 the first sliver of the sun emerged from the horizon.  For the next two minutes, I watched in awe as the perfectly round orange ball of fire made its morning debut.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Photo of the Week: October 28, 2012

Back in 2008, I was riding around with one of my best friends when we decided to take some nice pictures of his new sports car.  I  struggled to come up with a nice backdrop.  Then I remembered that the top level of the Underground Atlanta parking deck offers a nice view of the Georgia State Capitol and the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.       

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Photo of the Week: October 21, 2012

Anyone who has ever been to Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park has undoubtedly been captured by the Fountain of Rings.  It’s amazing how much joy those fountains bring to kids from all around the world.   

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chapter 3 - Pardon the Interruption

Now I’m a pretty easy going guy, but there’s one thing that really gets under my skin.  That thing is when people don’t respect my time.  It really pisses me off.  I guess it goes back to being a lawyer.  We get paid for our time and when people don’t respect it, it feels like I’m rolling down the highway tossing cash out of the window.  In this case the feeling is elevated because I’m extremely anxious, and because I don’t have my phone, which means I can’t text, surf the web or check my email.  In other words, I’m going nuts sitting here waiting.  But I know that I need to swallow that attitude and start off on the right foot.  After about ten minutes, and two visits from an overly-helpful waiter, the door slid open.  It was Vanessa Boudreaux-finally.  Everything about the woman was well put together; the hair, the jewelry, the clothing, the shoes, the walk-everything.  This was a woman at the top of her game, and I was completely intrigued.   I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to have someone like her in my life on a daily basis.
As she glided into the room, I stood and moved toward the door to greet her.   My excitement was immediately dampened, however, when she extended her hand and gave me the universal symbol for “wait a minute.”  The message was clear, so I sat again to wait for her to wrap up her call on the Bluetooth device attached to her ear.  As I sat there, I couldn’t help but feel put off.  I probably had no right to feel that way, but I would never have done that to her.  Between the waiting and the phone call, I just had the feeling that this meeting wasn’t as important to her as it was to me.  My thoughts were interrupted when she finished the call and gestured for me to stand to greet her.  I extended my hand to shake hers, but she grabbed me and pulled me toward her for a warm hug.  Then she apologized for being late and for the phone call, and all of the negativity I had felt moments earlier evaporated into thin air.  In order to avoid another interruption, however, I told her that I wouldn’t take any calls during lunch if she wouldn’t.  She winked and said she’d try.  Of course, I really didn’t have to worry about it since my phone was probably lying in pieces on some busy Atlanta street, or, even worse, being offered for sale on Peachtree Street by some enterprising citizen.

As our conversation began, I realized that I had so many questions I wanted to ask her.  Where was she from?  What did she do for a living?  Where’d she go to college?  Does she like sports?  Is she a good dancer?  What is her favorite food?  What does she do for fun? Oh, and who was that guy she was with the night I first saw her?  I didn’t want the conversation to seem like an interview, but I hoped to have the answers to some of my questions by the end of our lunch.   And what a lunch it was!  We ate and talked and teased and talked some more.  It was one of those conversations where everything she said prompted another round of conversation.

          Vanessa was certainly a “no-list” girl.  A “no-list” girl is one who is really easy to talk to.  The term goes back to when I was in high school.  I used to make a list of topics for our conversation before I would call.  Sometimes I’d call someone and run through my list in five minutes.  With nothing left to talk about, I’d awkwardly rush off the phone.  On the other hand, sometimes I would call a girl and I could stay on the phone forever without looking at the list a single time.  Needless to say, I did not make, or need, a list with Ms. Boudreaux. 

I learned so much about her during our lengthy conversation.  The 37-year-old daughter of two prominent physicians was born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth.  She’s never stepped foot in a public school, and had her choice of cars on the day she turned 16.  She graduated from Spelman College, and received an MBA from Wharton.  After Wharton she joined a prominent Wall Street investment banking firm, before moving back to Atlanta to start her own.  She’s traveled extensively, and lived abroad for extended periods.  Vanessa was also kind and compassionate.  She volunteers for several children’s organizations.  Physically, she appeared to be about 5’9” or 5’10”, and was blessed with a natural beauty that made men of all ages do a double take.  Yet, she was extremely humble.   And the icing on the cake is that she’s a huge sports fan, and has season tickets to the Hawks, Falcons and Braves. 

Although the conversation was still flowing freely, both of us knew we had to get back to work.  We’d settled our check long ago, but just couldn’t leave.  As we attempted to wrap up the conversation for the fourth time, she took a deep breath and nervously asked to change the subject. “So, Jeffrey, let me tell you why I really invited you here.  I’ve got a proposition for you, and, frankly, I’m not sure how you’re going to feel about it.”  She sat up straight in her chair, and prepared to lay out her proposition.  “See, I’ve been . . .” She stopped in mid-sentence as the door suddenly slid open.  It was the maĆ®tre d followed closely by Anita, who appeared to be very agitated.  Anita screamed at me, “Mr. Law, why haven’t you been answering your phone?  Judge Thompson’s office has been calling all afternoon.  There’s an emergency hearing set to take place in 30 minutes in the Walton case.  I’ve got the file, let’s go.” I dashed over to Vanessa and gave her a quick peck on the cheek.  “Hold that thought,” I whispered before dashing off with Anita.    

I can’t think of a more terribly abrupt way for our lunch to have ended.  And the one time that I didn’t have my phone, there would have to be an emergency.  As much as my mind should have been on the upcoming court hearing, I kept thinking about the lunch with Vanessa.  It was going to drive me absolutely crazy wondering what her proposition was all about.  But there was no time to worry about that.  I had a judge to face, a client to take care of, and an angry assistant to deal with.   

Photo of the Week: October 14, 2012

New Orleans is truly one of the most unique and culturally significant cities in the United States, and a photographer’s paradise.  My first and only trip to New Orleans was in 2003, when I met a friend there for the Essence Festival.  One morning I got up early and headed out with my camera.  I took this shot of Muriel’s Bistro in Jackson Square.  The interesting thing about this shot is that almost everyone from New Orleans asked me how I managed to get it without any people on the street.  Actually, there were people on the street.  If you look closely, you can see them.  Leave a comment if you see them.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Photo of the Week: October 7, 2012

By now you've probably figured out that the Photo of the Day has evolved into the Photo of the Week.  So, I figured it's about time that I change the name of these posts to reflect just that.  So, as you see, I'm not ready to move away from last week's music theme.  Several years back I was essentially serving as a manager and road manager to a couple of artists.  Of course I took my camera to every gig.  This photo was taken at a Sunday Brunch at Warm Daddy's in Philadelphia.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Photo of the Day: September 30, 2012

For as long as I can remember I have always loved music.  When I was in middle school my uncle gave me his old trumpet and I joined the school band.  I loved learning to play my trumpet.  That trumpet was battered and bruised, and the mustard-colored case was literally falling apart.  Even so, I carried it with pride.  After I learned to read music, I used to go to my room to record songs on my mini boom box with a built-in cassette recorder.  I would then painstakingly score the music so I could play it back on my trumpet.  The truth is that I as a very solid trumpet player, but I didn't really have the "it" factor, so I gave up the trumpet to pursue other interests.  That didn't stop me from listening to, taping, or even buying music.  In fact, when I got my first check in 10th grade from my part-time job, I spent almost all of it on albums (which I still have, by the way).  Even though I didn't continue as a musician, I still manage to stay closely connected to the world of music.  I love the artistry and the passion that musicians display on stage.  Although I am no longer on the stage, there's nothing to prevent me from capturing the artistry of music.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photo of the Day: September 23, 2012

So who says engagement photos have to the boring?  I loved shooting this adventurous couple.  We shot a series of these "floating in mid-air" photos and they got a lot of "oohs and ahhs" at the wedding.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Photo of the Day: September 16, 2012

My folks from DC will be able to appreciate this shot, my interpretation of "The Awakening."  At the time, it was still in its original Hains Point location.  It has since been moved to the National Harbor in Prince George's County.  This photo only depicts three of the five sections of the sculpture.  If you ever visit the National Harbor be sure to visit.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Photo of the Day: September 9, 2012

Well, I'm back.  I'm sorry, I'm sorry.  Going out of town got me off track but I'm back, and I'm here to stay.  Yesterday I was driving around with a client looking for fresh locations and stumbled across a psychedelic blue door which served as a very cool background.  Of course, I had to get creative with it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 29, 2012

There was something about this tree that really struck me.  Maybe it's the vines, or maybe the full canopy of leaves, or the maze of branches.  Some have said that it reminds them of Jack and the Beanstalk.  To me it symbolizes age, strength and maturity.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 28, 2012

Back in the late 90's and early 2000's I did a lot of recruiting for my former law firm.  One of the places I visited regularly was Chicago.  My annual visit to the Windy City usually coincided with Chicago Carifete, where I could soak up some Caribbean culture and food.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Photo(s) of the Day: August 27, 2012

Awww.  Photoshop.  Love it or hate it, you've got to acknowledge the power of this photo editing giant.  This photo, which was created several years ago, consists of the following elements: the face on the side of the building, water and people all from Chicago, the sky from a sunset in Atlanta, the stairs and wall on the left from the Carter Center in Atlanta (look familiar?), the tulips from the Georgia Capitol, and the mountains in the foreground from North Carolina.  The inspiration for this photo came around midnight.  I got out of bed and stayed up all night to finish it.  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 26, 2012

When you've got the photography bug, you can find a good photo anywhere.  This photo was taken at an outdoor concert at Chastain Park in Atlanta, GA.  I was sitting with a group of people when this bottle caught my eye.  The folks around me didn't even know that I was shooting.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 25, 2012

Stairs often make for interesting photos.  These stairs are at the Carter Center, one of my favorite places in Atlanta.  This photo rouses my curiosity about what could be at the top of the stairs.  I also can't help but wonder whether the dark clouds are giving way to blue skies, or whether the clouds about to overtake the sky?  I suppose it depends on your outlook in life.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 24, 2012

It's getting close to midnight and I haven't posted for the day.  I just reached for my cell phone on the nightstand to search for a photo that would provoke enough thought for a blog entry.  Ah, some unlit candles sitting on the counter.  When I think about it, unlit candles have so much potential.  With the stroke of a match, they can produce light, heat, and energy.  They can create a warm mood, or come through for us in an emergency.  They can also cause destruction if used improperly.  Yet if they remain unlit, they do nothing but take up space.  Sounds a little like people.  Good night world.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Drawing of the Day: August 23, 2012

I mentioned that I used to love drawing, so I thought I would share some of my work.  I loved capturing the details of real objects on paper.   My biggest challenge was trying to draw people, so I focused on still life drawing.  This drawing is significant because I never picked up a pencil again to draw anything after finishing these shoes in 1986.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 22, 2012

Several years ago I was washing my car and I noticed that the soapy water was pooling in the corner of the driveway.  The patterns in the suds caught my attention so naturally I grabbed my camera and snapped some photos.  I thought to myself that someday I would do something cool with those photos.  A few months later the inspiration hit me.  I opened one of the photos in Photoshop, added some colors, applied some filters, and the rest is history.  The before and after photos show that you can create art from almost anything.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Photo of the Day: August 21, 2012

Although I enjoyed the view from my office every single day, some days were more spectacular than others.  This photo captures one of those days.  There were many times when the tops of the buildings were covered by clouds or fog, but I had never seen a day like this with the buildings emerging from the fog and clouds like this.  Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Reemergence of the Lost Artist

After three years of the Artistic Lawyer, it just occurred to me that I’ve been selfish with my art.  Yes, I’ve shared my comical stories.  Recently, I’ve even branched into fiction.  But this morning I realized that I’ve never shared my drawings or the vast majority of the thousands of photos that I’ve taken over the years.  Even if you’ve seen some of the photos, you have not heard the stories behind them.  Well that is about to change…    

From the late 90’s to early 2000’s, I practiced law with a large law firm in Atlanta, GA.  My plush window office was on the 31st floor of a midtown Atlanta high-rise that offered astonishing views of the Atlanta skyline, as well as breathtaking sunset views.  Those sunsets would speak to me every single day.  But since they were so fleeting, I felt an incredible urge to capture them.  In 2001, one of my co-workers sold me a Nikon digital camera.  My life was forever changed.  It didn’t take long to discover that I could shoot through the glass and capture the sunsets perfectly.   I kept that Nikon at the office and started shooting the sunsets on a regular basis.  The news of my new-found passion spread quickly throughout the firm.  When there was an especially awesome sunset, my co-workers would ring my phone off the hook to make sure that I had the camera ready.  I’ve shared a photo of  my favorite sunset taken from the office.  Yes, it does look like it was taken on Mars.  Yes, it is completely real; no Photoshop involved.      

Although the desire to capture the sunsets got me started in photography, I have always had an artistic side.  Many of you might recall the magazines ads from back in the day which asked you to draw a turtle, pirate, or some other character, and then send in the drawing to some far off art school.   Of course I sent in a drawing, and the next thing I knew some recruiter was knocking on our door trying to get me enrolled.  Although that school probably recruited everyone who sent in a drawing, his visit sure made me feel like a true artist.  In high school, my outlets were drawing, painting, pen & ink, and scratchboard.  My work earned a membership into the National Art Honor Society.  My art teacher literally begged me to pursue art as a major in college (but that’s a story for another day).  Needless to say, I chose a different path. 

After years of not creating any art, it was (ironically) the view from my law office that got me into photography and back to my artistic roots.  When I started working in that office, I had no idea that I would become enamored with the sunsets and discover photography as a passion.  That just goes to show that if there’s an artist in you, it is going to find its way out, one way or another.    

Welcome to the Artistic Lawyer’s Photo of the Day.  Get ready for a photographic ride.  I’m not sure how long it will last.  Actually, I do know; as long as I have photos with stories to tell.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chapter 2 - Token of Appreciation

It couldn’t be time to get up.  Not yet.  No way.  I’m normally an early riser.  In fact, I can’t stand lingering in bed in the morning.  But on this particular morning I just couldn’t get up.  Sure, I didn’t get enough sleep.  But the lack of sleep was only part of the problem.  The other issue was the slightly bruised ego caused by the mystery woman.  As I laid on my back staring at the twirling blades of my ceiling fan, my mind kept replaying the night before.  Her image would not leave my mind; nor would the feeling of standing there alone in the flashing blue lights.  All night I wondered if there was anything I could have done that would have led to the conversation that I desperately wanted to have with her.  By now I would have known her name, where she grew up, some of her hobbies, and maybe even her favorite cereal.  As I replayed the evening yet again, my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the appointment reminder on my phone.   I glanced at the screen.  I had a meeting with a potential new client in an hour.  Time to get up.

            Like most people, I am a creature of habit.  Every morning I take my phone into the bathroom with me, and tune in one of my favorite sports talk shows.  But sports talk was not going to cut it this morning.  I wanted some music; not just any music, but some good lively music.   I picked up my phone and browsed through my Pandora stations.  This felt like a Classic Hip-Hop morning.  Each song that played took me back to a different stage of my life, and took my mind off of her.  As I shaved, showered, and dressed, my mind drifted through a constant stream of daydreams.  I pictured myself as a famous rapper performing before a capacity crowd.  But I wasn’t the typical rapper.  I was rapping in a suit, white shirt, and bowtie, looking more like Minister Farrakhan than Tupac Shakur.  But that look was my hook, and the crowd seemed to love it.  The truth is I could never get on stage in front of a crowd to perform.  The stage fright would overwhelm me.  Thank God for the shower.   

            The music totally transformed my mood, and I managed to get out of the house feeling re-energized and surprisingly upbeat.  I was really excited about this new client.  I had been chasing his business for quite a while.  Hopefully, I would close the deal today.  I also couldn’t wait to tell my secretary Anita about the mystery woman.  I knew I was going to get a lot of grief for the outcome, but I was prepared for that.  But she always knew that right thing to say and I was anxious to hear her thoughts.  I arrived about ten minutes before the start of my meeting.  As usual, my voicemail light was lit.  And, as usual, I didn’t feel like checking it so I would just let Anita do it.  I didn’t really have time anyway.  I never like to cut it so close to my meetings but at least I was there before the client---long before the client as it turned out.  But I just had to deal with it because I was expecting him to write a nice check, and that sure has a way of making me a lot more patient.  The client finally showed up about an hour late.  The first thing he did was thank me for being so understanding in pushing the meeting back an hour (mistakenly assuming that I had received his voicemail message left the night before).  I told him that I had received the message and that it was no problem at all.  After about an hour, we finally wrapped up our meeting.  It was a done deal.  He signed the engagement letter, pulled out his checkbook and stroked a very nice check for my retainer.  After a few minutes of chit-chat,  I walked him to the elevator, we shook hands, and he was on his way.

            Now that the client business was done, I headed straight to Anita.  As I approached her desk, I was completely distracted by an extremely large, colorful and exotic floral arrangement.  It was absolutely breathtaking.  Of course I asked her who had sent them to her.  Her response startled me.  “They’re not for me, they’re for you.”  I was stunned.  “Are you serious?”  I had never received flowers in my life and I was completely at a loss as to who could have sent them.  “Open the card, silly boy!”  Yes, yes, I was getting to that.  I grabbed the envelope and ripped it open like an over-anxious presenter at an awards show, desperate to find out who has sent such a wonderful arrangement. I read the card silently as Anita looked on in anticipation.  The first line of the card read, “Dear Braxton, do you chase women through red lights every Thursday night?”  Oh my God!  The flowers are from her!  But how did she know who I was?  I guess it’s true that women are always one step ahead of us. 

All of the emotions that I felt at that moment—joy, excitement, relief, were evidenced by the huge smile on my face.  I was so lost in the moment that I barely heard Anita screaming, “what does it say, who sent them, who sent them?”   I continued reading in silence.  “I wanted thank you for taking care of the ticket for me last night.  That was such a thoughtful gesture.  Sending these flowers was the least I could do.  I’d also like to thank you in person.  I have a reservation at Fabio’s at 12:45.  I hope you can join me.  Vanessa Boudreaux.”  I looked at my watch.  I had to go.  “Anita, I’ve got to go!  I’ll explain later.  Please cancel my afternoon appointments!”  I rushed to my office, grabbed my keys off the desk, and sprinted out the door.  As I entered the elevator, my heart began to race.  I began to breathe heavily, as a bead of sweat rolled down my forehead.  I was dying to meet her but at the same time, I felt a bit like a puppet on a string.  Was she just playing me?  Was this all a big joke?  Is she really going to be there?  What if it doesn’t go well? 

I really needed to gather myself.  I couldn’t meet her with all of those silly thoughts racing through my head.  When I got to my car I noticed a scratch on the side of my car.  Now, despite the rush, I had to take a second to check out this scratch because I do not play when it comes to my car.  I sat my phone on top of the car and bent over to check out the scratch.  I rubbed my finger over it, and it magically started disappearing.  The relief of not having an ugly scratch on the side of my car seemed to calm me down a bit.  That calmness would be short-lived however, as the lunch-time traffic was horrendous.  I tried to avoid the main streets but the side streets were just as bad.  I glanced at the clock every few minutes as it raced toward 12:45.  I tried music as a distraction but I found myself constantly switching stations, unable to find just the right song.  Nothing seemed to help.  I looked at the clock.  12:41.  It wasn’t a question of whether I would be late.  The real question was how late I would be.  I needed to call the restaurant.  I looked in the cup holder where I normally keep my phone.  No phone.  Where the hell was my phone?  Then I realized that I’d left my phone on top of the car!  So, not only was I going to be late, but I couldn’t call the restaurant to let them know.  I tried to remain calm as the clock continued to race---12:48, 12:52, 12:59.  Finally, I pulled up to the valet at 1:03.  I grabbed the claim check and hurried toward the front door.  As I walked in, I stopped and took a deep breath.  I approached the Maitre’d and told him I was there to meet Ms. Boudreaux.  “Ah, sir, we’ve been anticipating your arrival.  Follow me please.”  He led me through a maze of tables toward the rear of the restaurant.  Finally, we arrived at a private dining room.  He opened the wooden sliding door.  The room was beautifully but simply decorated.  There was a single table covered in fine linen with extravagant place settings for two, a bottle of wine, floral centerpiece—but no Ms. Boudreaux.  “Have a seat sir, I will be right back.”  So there I sat all alone in a room built for two, feeling emptier than I did the night before.  Then the door slid open again.  The Maitre’d announced, “Ms. Boudreaux will be joining you momentarily.”  It was finally time to meet this woman.                        

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chapter 1 - Decked Out in Blue

I couldn't decide whether to go to this event alone or with a date.  My guess was that this would be the type of event where the odds of meeting someone interesting would be very high.  Then again, I thought the same thing about the last few similar events, but they turned out to be a little awkward since I was one of the few people without a date.  I really didn't feel like experiencing that again, but I just had a feeling that I'd better go alone this time, so off I went. 

When I arrived I was immediately stunned by the elegance of the affair.  The location, the crowd, the food, the music---everything was first class.  As I stood there enjoying the evening, an unrecognizable feeling came over me.  It was anxiousness, nervousness, stimulation and excitement all wrapped up into one.  My heart was racing like I was preparing to jump out of an airplane for my first skydive.  What was going on?  I realized that I had just brushed shoulders "her." She was quite tall, nearly matching my 6'1" frame in her heels.  She had an earthy, natural beauty that radiated throughout the room.  There was just something about her that drew me to her, something beyond the physical, something much deeper. It was like nothing I had ever experienced.  Our eyes met.  That one lingering glance let me know that she felt something too. 

As I stood there, I almost found myself staring, though I really didn't want to do that since: (a) staring at a stranger is quite creepy, and (b) she was with someone.  I had to find out who she was.    Was she wearing a ring?  Who was that guy she was with?  Maybe it was her cousin, or just a friend.  Of course that was what I wanted to think.  I knew that was simply wishful thinking; cousins and friends don't touch like he was touching her.  I couldn't stand watching him pull her into his body like that.  I had to move to another room before I did or said something crazy, or just plain went crazy.  I had to get away.  I needed to start working the room, striking up conversations, networking---anything to get my mind off her.  After an hour or so of mingling, I recognized an attorney who I was working with on a deal.  We talked about the last few remaining deal points and managed to close a deal that had been lingering for weeks.  It turned out to be a productive night after all, though not exactly what I had expected.  Now, I'm not exactly the type to shut down the party, so I started thinking it was about time for me to head home.  Of course I was hoping to run into her again, and I walked through the entire building in hopes of doing just that.  But my luck had run out.  There was no sign of her. 

As I walked out to give my claim check to the valet, I began to get that feeling again.  But this time it was even more intense.  I knew she was around, but where?  I looked up to the front of the long line of cars, and there she was--getting in her car—ALONE!  For a split second I was frozen.  I wasn't sure whether to call out to her, run after her, or what?  I couldn't just stand there and do nothing. Before I could react, the valet closed her door and she sped off. 

            I was left there in stunned disbelief clutching my claim check, which by now was crumpled and wet from my sweaty palms.  At that moment, a strange calmness came over me.  I heard a voice telling me not to worry.  I knew I would see her again.  I knew I'd get to know her favorite color, her favorite cereal, what she buys too many/much of, what type of music she likes, her favorite song, how she likes to dress, etc. 

When I got in my car the first thing I wanted to know was exactly how I had managed to stay out so late on a week night.  My bed was going to feel so good tonight.  There was only one slight problem---my gas light was on and it had been on for a while.  I hate stopping at gas stations late at night.  But tonight I had no choice.  As I pulled into the gas station, I began to feel excited again.  I noticed a car pulling off that looked strangely familiar.  “Oh shit!  That’s her!” I sped off in pursuit.  She was not going to get away this time.  No way.  I pulled up beside her and tried to get her attention.  Of course she wouldn’t look!  I ended up driving beside her for several blocks, waving, gesturing, doing everything I possibly could to get her attention. Then I realized that my luck was about to change for the better as I noticed the traffic light up ahead turning red.  Unless she was planning on running the light, she was going to be stopped right beside me.  The problem was she didn’t seem to be slowing down.  As she got closer to the light, my heart sank as her engine roared in acceleration.  She was running the light!  Well, if she’s running the light then so was I.  I’m not missing this woman.

Unfortunately, after passing through the intersection I noticed the flashing lights, followed by the amplified voice of the officer directing us BOTH to pull over.  The three cars formed a line on the shoulder, hers in the front and mine in the middle.  When the officer walked up to my car I was practically grinning from ear to ear.  He wanted to know what was so “funny.”  I explained the situation to him, and proceeded to beg him not to give her a ticket.  After checking my license and registration, he went back to his car.  It seemed to take forever for him to come back with the ticket, but as long as she was still there, it didn’t really matter.  Finally, he came back and asked me to wait.  I watched him walk up to her car and start a conversation.  He gestured for me to come forward, and started walking toward me.  He approached me and said, “the lady would like to thank you for standing up for her.  I’m not supposed to do this but I will wait here a minute for everyone’s safety.”  Then he went back to his car. 

As I approached her car door, I could see her straightening her hair and puckering her lips to even out her lipstick.  She rolled down her window just enough for her to speak out of it.  She looked at me, smiled, and said, “I just wanted to thank you for what you did.  I really appreciate it.  Have a good night.”  Before I could even say a word, she rolled up the window, put the car in drive, and drove off.  I looked on in disbelief as she sped away, my body covered in waves of blue from the officer’s flashing lights.  Just as quickly as she’d left, the officer drove away, and I was left all alone of the side of the road.  I hadn’t gotten her phone number, or even her name!  I didn’t even have a chance to introduce myself.  Worst of all, every bit of dignity that I left home with that night had completely melted away.  How could my inner voice have been so very wrong?  What a damned cold night.