One November, I looked up at the one tiny window visible from my desk and watched the last two gold leaves blowing away from the tree outside and I knew I was done working in an office. It took a couple years, but I plotted and dreamed as if I were planning to leave a bad relationship. I hoarded ideas. I comforted myself with thoughts of working at home after long horrible phone calls and irritating meetings. I bided my time as I ate my sandwich in the company kitchen and listened to coworkers debated whether a man is gay if he pees sitting down. I whispered to my cats that soon I would be at home all of the time.
But, of course, sitting at my kitchen table working in my fabled bunny slippers, I missed a few of my coworkers. Not the annoying ones, god no, but the funny ones. The ones who nodded in sympathy as I told them yet another story about an author gone terribly wrong; the ones who bought me a graduation card when I got my MFA; the ones who helped me word an awkward email; the ones who came over to my cube to talk because we’re all bored out of our minds.
Last night I ran into a sticky track changes problem and had to wake up my husband to talk about it (to his credit, he was pretty nice about being woken up). He hates Word even more than I do, so he was sympathetic, but he couldn’t actually help. What I needed was a colleague.
But usually I make do. I irritate the cats when I need to be distracted. I still go for walks with one of my former colleagues. She entertains me with workplace gossip. Facebook helps too. It’s like being in a room with a lot of people I like and I don’t have to listen to any of them talk to their spouses on the phone (the gritted teeth after an argument and the obligatory, forced “I love you, bye”).
My listservs help me with editorial advice. (Shout out to EFA and CEL.) This blog allows me to vent all the live-long day. And other blogs help me visualize a bunch of overeducated freelancers slaving away in their garrets to pay for their internet service.
I get to pick my colleagues, these days. I no longer have to listen to conversations about baseball, or how drunk Freddy got on Saturday night. I have a bunch of windows. And the sun is out, which is the source of this strange feeling of equanimity, so I can’t complain.
But don’t worry, dear readers, I still will.