Wednesday, May. 28, 2003
From the front door I can see the first flight of stairs before they wrap around the landing and continue up the other side of the wall. I can see the living room brightened by the light wood floor which wasn't there when we were in high school. I was trying to remember the look and feel of the place when it was covered with wall-to-wall carpet. I rememeber feeling a mild shock at realizing how dirty and worn the house felt before Jane's parents decided to uncover those gorgeous golden wood floors. Of course I hadn't realized it until later that wood floors are a bitch to care for with four young children running amuck, two of them rambunctious boys.
As I poked the doorbell, I could see Jane standing in the kitchen. It's the strangest feeling to see your best friend again, after months, sometimes years of separation, and to know upon sight that everything is exactly as we left it before. Jane's smile took up half her head as she stepped up to the front door and let me in. Standing in front of her, her big bright blue eyes took up the other have of her head. Her hugs are a mixture of sibling, friend, child and mother bound into a single fierce embrace. These are the people I feel in her when she wraps her arms around me. That tiny slender frame of tough muscle replenishes our connection which seems to fade with the time and distance the way paper fades in the sunlight. But the writing remains as deep and rich as ever. Twelve years still go a long way between visits.
Jane and I sat at the kitchen table - as we have, it seems, hundreds of times, picking up the conversation where the last phone call or eMail left off. We don't go through that catching-up routine anymore, thankfully. We have kept in touch with better consistancy these last couple of years than ever, though in the time we've known each other we've learned to read each other so easily that even a change in breathing won't go unnoticed.
She'd mentioned a few days before that her visit home wasn't entirely family-related. As an architect-in-training, she was writing the trip off as a business expense, as long as she went down to the BigAdsAgency to take pictures of their new building in the Pearl District.
Before the economic bust in 2000, the BigAdsAgency built themselves a new building in the trendy-chic Pearl, taking an existing building and making it all kinds of friendly - historic, environmental, client. They were (and probably still are) clients of the Post House when I was running morning and afternoon deliveries to their old building downtown. Jane and I drove along a piece of my old delivery route between the BigFish production company and the BigAdsAgency's new building. It wasn't so much memories that came flooding back to me, as the forgotten, faded impressions of my old self, emerging through the years of separation I've built between then and now.
Over-eager, over enthusiastic and painfully inexperienced, I goofed my way through those years, certain I was due more respect than most people afforded me, yet clueless about the concept of "paying dues". It was an especially difficult part of growing up for me. I'd decided to take a year off of school, much to my dad's great displeasure, even though I had planned to do that before he conviced me that I'd live the rest of my life an aimless loser (like my brother, he said, though not in so many words) unless I moved across the state into his wife's house for my first years of community college. Between high school graduation and the time I left the Post House, a five-year stretch, I had grown from that cardboard cut-out labeled "kid" that seemed to satisfy my dad's impression of my existance into a slightly more confident actual kid with an overcompensating sense of self-determination that made up for a serious lack of direction.
As Jane and I approached the front doors of the BigAdsAgency I instantly recognized a familiar and friendly face. Gary was the youngest producer at BigFish when I was at the Post House. Most of us assumed he'd risen to the position with help from his mom, who also was a producer at Bigfish. I've since learned that people who assume things in an office environment are the people who don't know what the fuck they're talking about. It turns out most of my coworkers were those people. Far be it from me to assume anything of his talents, but I can say with first-hand knowledge that Gary was one of our most pleasant, easy-going clients. Even-tempered, cool under pressure, he also seemed to be a favorite among his out-of-town clients. (As legend goes, he took some New York ad people out on the town and ended up crashing a wedding party.)
My nerves twinged with a zap of electricity as the regonnition flashed across his face upon seeing me. He pulled the cell phone down under his chin as he nodded and said hello. I could read that he was searching for a context to place my face. My projected image was a far cry from the casual college student look I used to wear at the Post House. I'd hate to be recognized for that part of history now. Jane had asked me to keep my temp-job office clothes on to present a professional appearance for the BigAdsAgency. I was glad that Gary seemed to have forgotten that I used to fetch dinner for his clients after delivering their paperwork in a manilla inter-office envelope and their video tapes in cardboard boxes.
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