I’m moving into my first real office in a few days. Real walls. Real door. Even a real window. Before the furniture arrived yesterday, I’d often walk over to the building, slip into the empty room, and close the door. It’s a small space, roughly 10 feet by 10 feet, but it has a great urban view. The Sears Tower is mostly blocked by another imposing but lesser-known high rise, but it’s there. A sliver of its side and its gleaming white antennae peer over the neighboring buildings.
I wish I could stuff this entire space—the view, the sounds, the smell—into a care package and ship it to my teenage self in Alabama circa 1995. It would have been comforting to know that future me was quietly holding this place like a sweater thrown over a chair, waiting for me to make my way to the big, liberal, gritty city of my dreams.
I’m already certain that this office will be my Fortress of Solitude—my own little sanctuary where I can shut out the world as needed. It will compensate for every wrong ever done to me. It will erase every stray mark of teenage insecurity. It will recharge me. I will become an iPod and it, in turn, shall become my docking station.
When the furniture was set up a few days ago, I went over and sat in my shiny new chair. Everything is adjustable. There are levers and knobs to adjust the armrests, seat height, lumbar support, and resistance level of the back rest. After I’d tested a few different configurations, I looked out the window and wondered how long this feeling would last.
The feeling lasted roughly another ten seconds. Then, I started thinking about the potential negatives of this new career milestone. How long will it be before my department is moved again and my beautiful office is taken away? If I bring lots of stuff to decorate the room, how will I get it all home? And most importantly, is there any point in decorating a space with a drop ceiling?
Then I remembered that Oprah would not approve of this. Oprah would say I should remember my spirit and live my best life. She’d remind me to be fully present in the moment (and to sign up for two years of O magazine for 70% off the newsstand price!). But then I remembered that Oprah probably has an office with a fireplace and a private toilet that converts her waste into rosewater-scented candles.
Living in the moment is hard, and it’s especially difficult when you get something you’ve always wanted. But I’m going to try. And whenever I look around my new office and wonder, “What now?”, I’m going to remind myself that this moment has been 29 years in the making and it deserves to be savored. I have a door and my name is on it. And if 14-year-old me could stop by, I think he’d be proud.