Exploring Connections: How I Met Amanda Buck
The natural next connection from Megan Deal (see yesterday’s post) was Amanda Buck. It couldn’t be better timing to reflect on our meeting because today is her day of birth! We are all closing out our “twenties” after meeting on the front end of those promising years. They are exciting because you have a blank canvas before you and are set free, often from the University for many, to start the adventure of piecing it all together. They are also treacherous years of self-engulfing introspection, desperation from feeling lost, not knowing how to commit or in what direction, being easily molded by any school of thought, having to learn to sift through those teachings and decide things for yourself. The worst of times, the best of times.
I met Amanda on a hot, sticky, Southern afternoon in the old schoolhouse where PieLab served its first customers. She had recently traveled through South America and we made our first connections over travel recollections, agreeing that train and bus travel is when you get in your best thinking time.
We worked side by side for months trying to carve out what the heck we were actually doing in Greensboro. We were granted government money to teach classes about small businesses (of which we knew almost nil, though quickly learned or found people who did know and could teach while we “facilitated”); we painted Charles, the barber, a new sign; we taught a group of students studying for their GED how to develop a product from local resources and sell it. We baked pies galore, scrubbed dishes, looked out the window on rainy days with Bon Iver stanzas floating in the background. We planted a mega garden, only to realize our hose didn’t reach the whole thing and that we would have to haul the watering can back and forth to fill it in order to water the other half because we were too cheap to buy a new one.
She, like Megan, was more of a midwesterner which often created comical contrasts in our sensibilities, even vocabulary. One day she told me, “I think I’ve picked up on saying ‘might can’ like you do.” I had no idea that phrase was noteworthy because it wasn’t until then that my little Alabama self had realized that “might can” is a very incorrect conjugation of to be able. What can I say? You live, you learn.
A little less than a year after leaving PieLab, after I had been in Spain almost the whole year and Amanda stayed in Greensboro to freelance (because she too had met her now-husband there who was still working one more year with Rural Studio), we rendezvoused in Madrid. We wandered the Sunday morning Rastro, had a very stressful moment in the bus station trying to figure out the best time to head south to Granada; arrived there in the middle of the night, wandered the old cobble-stoned streets of the old Moorish neighborhood to our hostel that turned out to be hippi-central—not sure what else we would expect from Granada—complete with a treehouse in the courtyard. We dreamed of the glory days of the Alhambra while craning our neck to take in all of its arabic-patience-made intricacies. Ate some of the best olives of my life for breakfast in Sevilla (not a Spanish tradition—they were in a big vat on the counter so we asked the waiter for some samples, two days in a row). Saw Easter week processions with throngs of pilgrims and saint statues, and solemn music from local bands. She returned to my corner of Galicia for our last few days where a friend (now my brother-in-law) took us to a cliff to take in the vast Atlantic views. I had come very near death right before moving to Spain when I had a clot in my lungs. I remember thinking in that moment looking over the ocean, “I am alive.” I have air in my lungs with each new breath, which is your one of few main requirements to keep on living. And I was immensely grateful.
Amanda has gone on to work on staff with the Obama campaign design team, and is now at one of the top design grad schools in the country. Making it work.
(Forgot a great link from yesterday where Megan is also making it work: peoplesliberty.org).