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The Next Great Thing in Life

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Publisher”s Letter

I often tell my kids that the next great thing in their life will happen when they least expect it.

Because they both are all grown up and manage every aspect of their lives brilliantly, they immediately moan and groan and ignore me.

But I continue to be intrigued by how unexpected events shape and enrich our lives, how a chance meeting can have a big impact, and how amazing things can grow out of the smallest personal kindness extended. Case in point, my husband Leo and his friend George.

They actually met for the first time at a Starbucks, jockeying for one of the two big leather chairs in the corner, each trying to arrive earlier than the other to score the prize seating. After weeks of this nonsense, they agreed to band together and save the second chair for the other. They also agreed that they didn”t have to actually speak to each other. Feel free to just drink your coffee and read your paper, completely contrary to the whole point of a coffee house – a gathering place where strangers can become friends.

From looks alone, these two couldn”t be more different. Outwardly, Leo is a conservative guy. He likes his hair short, his pants khaki, his collars buttoned down, and his loafers with pennies. George is much younger (sorry, hon), a big, tall guy with long hair, always pulled back into a ponytail. George is an IT professional; Leo”s approach to computer problems is to push every button, cuss a lot and call George. George knows a lot about art; Leo knows a lot about college football. And the list goes on.

The plan to sit next to each other and not talk actually led to a lot of talking, and more than a decade later, they still meet for coffee every Saturday morning. The passage of time in our lives can be measured in their meetings. Our then-young children have now finished school and college and started their careers. George and his wife Michelle welcomed their daughter Grace, who made the coffee duo a trio the moment she was born. Grace now dances and performs like our daughter did and George is a backstage dad like Leo was. On Halloween, we don”t turn the lights off till Grace stops by and her art for Leo gets a prime spot on our refrigerator.

The guys are on their third Starbucks now, each progressively closer to our Lawrenceville neighborhoods. Travel, work and family activities mean they miss a week here and there, but returning to their Saturday morning meeting is always a priority and I can”t imagine a day when they won”t be connected. It”s a friendship started by chance, but continued with a commitment – a good model to be sure.

You”ll find much about the importance of connecting and gathering in this issue – from thoughts on personal events like family reunions, weddings and holiday parties to ideas for business meetings and conferences. Not entirely coincidentally, we”ve also included a look at some of our favorite locally-owned coffeehouses!

Pour a cup and enjoy!

Dana K. Urrutia
dana@GwinnettMagazine.com