It’s been a strange week. I’m feeling more silent than usual, with this idea that I shouldn’t speak, not necessarily that I can’t. It began with a move to a new office space. Suddenly I find myself with a desk set far back into a tiny room with a door and four walls to dampen sound.
I work with audio and music and character voices that are often painfully shrill, and, while the move to this newly renovated office floor has meant smaller, less private workspaces for many big-wigs, it has meant a larger, completely private workspace for nobodys like me. Because of the painfully shrill voices, you see. Not to mention my department coworker Sam’s ear-splitting whistle toy, which nearly sent all of us and a particularly cranky Design Director to the looney bin.
So, as a result of annoying an entire company of toymakers with our vast array of whistling, shouting, screaming, singing, buzzing, (and even farting!) toys, a truly happy thing has happened. I now have my own office. A door. Soft lighting. I listen to music while I write scripts. And I see no one. Until I am forced into a meeting or until I make a choice.
It seems, with choice, I am decidedly more social. I emerge from my new cave and swing my legs from the benches next to friend’s desks and laugh with my birthday sister Kira and wonder, out loud, rather than through email, where we all might go for lunch (a new experience, today, with seitan, from the gangly group of vegans who insisted I try, and I’ll never understand the strangeness of recreating the sense of meat where there is no meat, I’ll never.)
This afternoon, I found myself in a high-level executive meeting where it wasn’t clear whether I was wanted, a strange back and forth of invites that turned into dis-invites that turned into maybe come, into definitely don’t you dare, into are-you-kidding-get-on-the-subway-and-meet-us-now.
So, up in this tall building in Times Square, I stood and looked out and my feet had that tingly feeling, that one more step and you could fall feeling, but today there was nothing except fog and the memory of a river and, sitting at the long conference table, with the nagging feeling of shouldn’t, shouldn’t, I didn’t say a word.
On the way home it felt as if I’d been caught in a secret all week, shrouded in the atmosphere of those clouds. A stranger asked me where the subway was and it was only after I gestured the way, told him of these few blocks and that one right turn, after I walked for a moment, then stopped to whip around, that I registered the staggering, unsteady girl just behind him.
I called out softly after them, Are you okay? But they didn’t answer and I stood wondering why I didn’t notice sooner, why I didn’t speak louder, why a terrible, nagging, piece inside me wished not to bother, wanted to be alone in secret, in clouds. The same piece that wished I hadn’t seen her at all. A different piece than the one that fears for and wonders, too late, about her now.