Another Night at the Ambassador's

Posted on Thursday, Nov 06, 2014

“I mean, look around you.”

I withdrew from our whispered conversation and did just that. The large, open room behind me was well furnished and inviting with wide corridors that led to the reception area and back towards the rest of the house. A cool October breeze made its way through the open doors from the patio where the event guests would soon be mingling, sipping Spanish wine and nibbling on jamón ibérico. From where I was standing in the back, I could see my boss Angela behind her laptop handling the speakers’ presentations. She gave me a quick wink and a sly smile.

“Did you ever think you would find yourself hosting an event at the ambassador’s residence in Madrid, especially during your undergrad?” Mr. Fishman continued.

I grinned at that. This was already my third event to host at the ambassador’s residence, but it never occurred to me to look at these opportunities in the way Mr. Fishman posed his question. He smiled back at me, then directed his attention to the stage. His daughter, Michele, was about to present over their family franchise.

As Vice President of International Development, Michele arrived in Spain in mid-September in search of master franchisors and franchisees. For a month and a half, Angela and I had been working with her, organizing meetings and networking events. This was her final and largest event: some fifty young Spanish entrepreneurs sat in the audience. Four other speakers presented their franchising success stories before her, and she was the final speaker before the cocktail reception.

I saw her glance back at her father while composing herself before starting. He sent her a warm, reassuring smile. And with that she began.

That sweet moment sent me back to Angela’s office a week earlier. “That’s when I know I love what I do. When I see our clients and our events thrive. It may get crazy and hectic leading up to that moment, but when everything comes to life, the weight is just lifted and I am happy.”

The past two weeks had been crazy-- but with that exchange between Michele and her father, and suddenly grasping the surreal impossibility of the here and now, I was happy.

The event transitioned smoothly out onto the patio. Angela found me in the crowd and ran towards me with her hands clasped in victorious fists in the air. “We did it!” she exclaimed, pulling me into a strong hug. I laughed, trying to balance my glass of tinto while we embraced. “It went really well, didn’t it!?” Her wicked smile and sparkling eyes were not looking for an answer. She was completely in her element.

“Here, Victoria, I want to introduce you to the Ambassador,” she said. US Ambassador to Spain James Costos appeared out of nowhere as Angela grabbed my arm and yanked me across the patio.

“Ambassador, I would like to introduce you to Victoria Kennedy, one of our interns at the Commercial Service. She is my right-hand, and my left.”

“It is so nice to meet you, Victoria,” he said while shanking my hand. “I assure you Mr. Ambassador,” I replied, “the pleasure is all mine.”

I eventually ran back into Kaylee, my fellow intern and fast friend. She had deemed herself the unofficial photographer for the night and had been busy snapping pictures of all the speakers and attendees.

“Ok, new one,” she asked very seriously. “Would you rather jump in the pool, or steal a whole plate of brownies underneath your dress?”

We had started this game at our first event, a would-you-rather game of ridiculous things to do during our nights at the ambassador’s residence. This game, along with the silly photos we would take pretending to be sneaking around in different rooms of the house, ensured that we would always have way too much fun at official Commercial Service receptions.

“The brownies,” I declared. “Definitely the brownies.”

We mingled around together, shaking hands with the Americans and giving besos to the Spaniards. Around the time when the event was coming to an end, we found ourselves chatting with a group of Spanish guys.

“So, where’s the afterhours? The ambassador is hosting a dance party upstairs, correct?” Jaime asked.
“Oh, that’s after the pool party of course, which starts right now,” I replied. “You can go ahead and jump right in, the ambassador will follow.”

After more preposterous banter about how the ambassador was just inside changing into his bathing suit, José Luiz cut in, “Seriously though, it’s only 10! ¡Salimos!

“Yeah, 10 on a Wednesday,” Kaylee replied. “We have work tomorrow!”

“So? Tenemos clase mañana,” the boys countered.

Kaylee looked at me to make a decision, grinning at their persistence. “Como quieras amiga.”

I shrugged my shoulders. “Bueno, estamos en Madrid, ¿no? ¡Vámonos!”

Tags: International, Madrid