The Embrace of Strangers

top:  Photographer Peter Ogilvie and crew.  second row:  Bella Slagsvol, Beth Slagsvol, Austin Walker & Tiala Neufeld,  third row:  Sachi Royer, Nancy Vignola and Ann Ash, Leon Morrison, ibu ambassador, Ali MacGraw.  Fourth Row:  Linda Vignola, Ann Ash, Marisa Nemirow, Austin Walker, Susan Anzalone of Fine Line Catering, SHW, Ali MacGraw

She called the showroom, a perfect stranger, to offer ibu a Trunk Show in her Santa Fe home.  What was I to think?  The previous summer I had looked for a venue, hoping to introduce ibu to the beautifully eclectic people I had come to know over the past nine summers in Santa Fe.  So, the call came as a kind of answer to my wish, a random act of kindness.  I just knew, somehow, that Ann Ash was not a stranger but a friend, and that time would tell that story.

So it happened that last weekend, Austin and Marisa from Team ibu joined forces with Ann and her rock star line up of merchandisers and party planners and friends to put on a two day event that sent the town into a buzz.  I do not know why a stranger calls to extend her hospitality like an angel in disguise, flies in her talented cohort from New York to merchandise our displays, hires her friends to cook delectable squash blossoms, concoct signature drinks, rearrange her colorful home, distribute invitations by hand.  All I know is that Ann and Leon and Nancy were a band of strangers a few weeks ago whom I am honored now to call my friends.  The kind of friends who make magic and laughter in equal parts.  And make life better, all the way around. 

A day later, after our strikingly successful trunk show, I headed out into lone ranching territory where Beth Slagsvol, another perfect stranger, welcomed me and 9 others into her home to photograph ibu’s fall collection.  What can I say, except that she and her beautiful daughter Bella simply found it in their hearts to not only open their creative home but to fly out to meet us and to model our new clothing against the wide New Mexico sky.

Sometimes, I am just on my knees at the feet of strangers.  I fall into their wide embrace - and only later realize that all along, friendship was the latent truth between us, waiting to bloom.  

It's been that kind of week for me, when angels appear unaware in the hospitality of strangers.  I’m realizing that ibu is on the move way out there ahead of me - a great surge of believers leading the way, carrying the torch for women everywhere.  I'm lucky, so lucky,  to catch the ample grace in their wake.  

All the best,
Susan Hull Walker