For anyone still here, kickin around these empty halls, hello! I’ve missed you, even though I’ve been too tangled in the weeds outside my comfort zone to let you know. But I’m here now. And I’ve got some stories for you. Some of which I’ll tell you right now.
Once upon a time, I worked in an office. I worked in two offices, actually. One at a time. A long time ago. That was when we lived in New York and I worked for other, lovely, people, surrounded by other lovely people, and I had a lot of fun. Then we moved to North Carolina and I launched LEAP Design. I holed up in my house and had no-one to talk to and was lonely, even though I liked working for myself. Eventually, I got used to it, and it just kinda was what it was — me, working, talking on the phone when I needed company. Or going to lunch at Kim Son with Lee. Or just being by myself. Then Zoe and Lucy were born and it was great to be working in the house because I could do that clever WAHM thing where they would take a nap and I would run into the office and work until they woke up. A little stressful, yes, but ultimately a good thing, even if I did have to leave them crying in their cribs a few times while I took just 3 more minutes! to finish this thing and send it off to the client. Just 3 more minutes!!
Then we moved to Charlotte. Bob left his job and joined LEAP Design full-time and we worked together out of our house. Out of our bedroom, actually, because we bought a house that had a gigantic bedroom but didn’t have a spare room to use as an office. Because we planned to move into an office as soon as we could. But one thing led to another and before we knew it, 8 months had passed with us spending far too much time in the bedroom for a couple who doesn’t plan to have more kids, and anxious to get the hell out. Finally we found office space we liked and could afford and, wala! LEAP Design is now in an office.
And it’s a great office! In an old four-square house, with other artistically-inclined small businesses filling the other rooms (a massage therapist directly across the hall from us). Giant old windows that let in too much light (a great problem to have, for sure). And only 1 mile from our house. And 2 miles from the school Zoe and Lucy will attend next year (more on that soon). All I have to do is pretend I still live in New York City and walk to work every day and I’ll automatically be getting more exercise than I’ve gotten since who the hell knows when. Without going to the gym! It’s perfect. And very exciting. You’d think we would move in within minutes of signing the lease. Right? Yeah, you’d think.
Bob did in fact quickly move all his stuff there — ready to work and get things all set up. I took a little longer to get my stuff over there, finding myself curious over his urgency. “What’s the rush?” I wondered, and even asked out loud once or twice. Wouldn’t it be easier to move over there bit by bit rather than in one giant haul, which will just create a big mess? Each day Bob asked if I was going to bring my desk to the office, and each day I had a
reason excuse for why I wasn’t.
Finally the day arrived when it just plain needed to be done. No more excuses. Time to move my desk. I unplugged everything (good lord this century requires a lot of cords) and neatly fastened the cords into tight wraps. Then I changed into a short sleeved shirt. I dusted all the computer equipment and then went to wash my hands, at which point I also splashed my flushed face with soothing cold water. Then I packed things from my desk into boxes, pausing with the occasional magazine or sheaf of paper to fan myself. Etc, etc, etc. It was an utterly straightforward packing project that was repeatedly making me break out into a cold sweat. On a 60 degree day. What the hell? Finally, in the middle of it all, my friend Steph called. I told her all about what I was doing and realized during our conversation that I was FREAKING OUT about moving my desk out of the house.
And here’s why: the last time I worked in an office outside my house, I wasn’t even married yet. The age of information has bubbled, burst and bubbled again all while my computer and desk and information-related essentials were all right there, all accessible, all the time. All my pens and markers. All my paper. My printer. My camera. My photos. My pantone books. My checkbook. My paper clips. My scissors. My long reach stapler. It was all right here in my office and also right here at home. So when it was, for example, time to create our annual holiday cards? I just walked into my office and did it. Need to check an email to confirm the time of Zoe and Lucy’s playgroup birthday party? Step into the office and read. Need to know the name of the actor who plays the cowboy sports reporter in the movie Anchorman? Hit pause and step into the office and check imdb. You get the drift — life, work, life work. It was all conducted in the same space. For almost NINE YEARS.
And now I’m supposed to just pack everything up and move it to an office a mile away? What if I need to staple something at 8pm? What if I need to write a check at noon? What. If?!
And there’s you, clucking your tongue saying “Girl, put down that cup of coffee and get you some Zoloft. Stat!”
But no. I’m okay. I moved all my stuff. And it was a rocky first week or so trying to figure it all out and find a place to put all my anxiety at the same time. But I am figuring it out, day by day. And I love walking to work every day listening to This American Life on my cherry flavored iPod. And I bought a handful of Sharpies to have at home. And I’m shopping for a new stapler. And most exciting of all? I got a new laptop!
But also, it’s not about the stuff. It’s about learning how to be flexible and adapt to change even though change is evil. It’s about trusting my incredible business partner and husband to guide me through the things I’m not good at. And reminding myself that I’ll do the same for him when the territory is unfamiliar to him. It’s about being gentle to myself when I find I’m out of my comfort zone, and giving myself the time to fix my broken coping mechanism. And it’s about reaching around my back and grabbing my own belt loop (lucky I always wear jeans) and pulling my ass up and pushing it forward. Because in the end, I’m the only one who can do it. And that’s the only way to get from here to there. And that’s the only way to escape this swampy land of platitudes.
And so. That’s where I’ve been the past few weeks.
It’s not all neatly tied up with homemade paper and a ribbon yet — it’s still very much in-progress. (And with Zoe and Lucy’s 437-week-long spring break coming up, it’s going to remain in-progress for a while still.) But hopefully this little laptop will help me tell you about it a bit more. And if it doesn’t, well, at least now you know where I am.