In August of 2005 I got an email that would turn out to change everything.
It was from a recruiter, who’d found my resume online, asking if I was interested in talking to a small game company. Nine months later began what would turn out to be over a decade of working with a remarkable group of people. But that’s a story some of you already know, and for those that don’t it’ll be a story for another time.
I don’t remember first meeting Alfred, but I do remember meeting his wife, Jodie and their newborn daughter when she was brought into the office for a first visit. I had no idea in those early days that Dawnise and I would become so close to them.
Alfred and I found working together to be fun and effective – his optimism and willingness to “just try it” being a great counter-balance to my skepticism and desire to understand “the whole journey” before setting course. I could tell you all the reasons it wouldn’t work, and Alfred would start doing it anyway.
We and our spouses found mutual interests outside work, and started spending evenings together for dinner and games. Dawnise babysat their daughter while they were at hospital having their second, and again when they had their second son. We started traditions – like the annual bacon party that started when Dawnise and Alfred mused over burgers made entirely of bacon, which lead to the purchase of a meat grinder, and to bacon burgers so good we tried for years to improve on them, or even reproduce the first years’ success.
When my sister moved to Seattle, we dragged her with us to meet them, and it wasn’t long before her then-boyfriend-then-fiance-now-husband got roped in as well. Alfred likes to cook, and we love to eat – it was a perfect match.
When Dawnise and I moved to Luxembourg, we visited with them when we were back in Seattle. And in the years after we moved back and downsized into an urban dwelling Alfred & Jodie hosted our annual ice cream social in their kid-friendly backyard in the Seattle suburbs.
They were undoubtedly our closest friends in Seattle over those 15 years.
It could just be me, but I’ve found making friends as an adult is tricky. And making close friends… Well, tricky doesn’t even start to cover it.
When Dawnise and I were readying to move to London we figured we’d visit while we were here, and then we’d pick up where we left off when we were back in Seattle.
Turns out we were half right.
As we were prepping for the move to London, Alfred and Jodie let us in on the secret that they’d decided to leave Seattle and move back to the other side of the world. Having come to Seattle from Australia, they’d decided to move to New Zealand, and planned to leave Seattle before the end of the year.
So a month or so back the family packed up and left for a multi-week “farewell to America” tour. Dawnise joined them in Florida for a week at Disney World and came home just before the entire clan landed in the UK for a two week stay.
While they were in London we met up for dinner, hung out with the kids, and hosted them at our flat for American Thanksgiving. (Side note: Dawnise absolutely nailed cooking for 10 people out of that shoe-box sized oven.). The next day we met for dinner at a pub near their Airbnb, went back to their place to chat, and say farewell. The following day they were flying to Auckland via Hong Kong.
As we left, and Dawnise and I walked back to the tube, we tried to focus on being excited for them, on their new adventure, and ignore the feelings of loss tugging at us.
Make no mistake, we are excited for them. And despite the utterly ridiculous time in transit, we’ll go visit once they’re settled.
But being excited doesn’t mean for a second we’re going to miss them any less.