I had a meeting in the afternoon with two ladies and was given instructions on how to behave when I arrived at their place of employment. It was a confidential meeting and discretion was key. Walking up to the building, I hoped I was on time and not too early as the train arrived quickly and seemed to carry me with an ease that has become unusual for my errands and treks on Septa.
I buzzed a doorbell and was mindful of the suggested wording to use, keeping the nature of the meeting private. When the door responded with a growl, I knew I had passed the first test.
Second test: Waiting in the reception area was absurd. Each person who arrived was asked their name and was announced to their appointment, including me. And with each new arrival, a receptionist asked if a chair was necessary for waiting. She walked to a closet and retrieved a chair for each new arrival. The conversations from the reception area were tame and were limited to parking restrictions and current events as announced on a flat screen panel behind my head. The conversations going on behind the thin piece of glass providing little privacy were crazy.
"You can't use my phone - I'm on a conference call!"
"I'll just be a second! You can take a break from your conference call!"
"Why do I have to make copies!"
Stomping up and down the stairs behind a wall.
"She's with another client and will be with you when she is finished," I was told fifteen minutes in. Fifteen minutes is plenty of time for crazy to spin around and I was feeling anxious that this would be another day where I get to the moment I sit with a coffee on my sofa and feel again like I didn't belong anywhere even though I float through the day seemingly with ease.
Another ten minutes pass. Three more visitors. Three more chairs along the wall. Complaints about papers and phone calls. The doorbell buzzed and the magnetic lock growled when it opened to reveal additional visitors.
And then the person I was there to meet came to retrieve me. She popped in to the reception area from behind a wall concealing a stairwell. I followed her back upstairs and realized, I was walking through a row house - in fact, I was walking through two! There were twisty turning stairwells with hundreds of years of paint and varnish over the thick natural wood grain baseboards. I saw on each of the landings, I was surrounded by little doors leading to little rooms. I wanted to see the blueprints of the space in which I walked. It didn't feel welcoming - it was a professional space - no longer someone's home. But there was a level of comfort that pulled me through my steps as I followed this quirky woman into her office with steps leading into a private restroom and under a ceiling supporting an uneven peak roof. This was someone's bedroom!
I had my meeting with the quirky girl and another woman. Much information was traded between the three of us and during an abrupt intermission, the two left me alone to look at the nuances of the architecture. I noticed the old leaded glass around the perimeter of the window and tried to remember all the twists and turns I took to know what direction I was looking out to the brick wall of the row house that sat across the alley.
The two women came in. I reached down to the floor where my handbag sat waiting to be dismissed with derision and received two smiles and words of encouragement.
Not only was the outcome positive, but words I rarely hear, "Esther, we both really like you."
As an aside; I still feel like I'm just me, but it's so rare that someone likes me - people find me interesting, they are fascinated by me, intrigued maybe, curious for sure - but like me? Honestly, I haven't heard that a lot. (And those who say variations of it usually receive some awkward response from me making them reconsider their words.)
So they like me. The one takes her leave so the other can walk me out. Down the winding stairwells again. I'm looking around to soak in the bits and pieces of the building again.
"Oh, come here," she tells me to stop at another person for introduction. This very impromptu meeting resulted in the words, "Esther Buck! That's a perfect name!"
Perfect? I'll let my mom know!
And then I left to finish my day. I considered this interruption to my afternoon. I considered the spin of madness as the introduction, the twisting journey, which was a struggle with a bum knee in the chill of winter, and then the quiet exchange of information behind a closed door. Finally confirmation that there is a perfection surrounding me, even if it is something as simple as the label I've hid behind my whole life.
Maybe sometimes the twists and turns of my personality hide behind the walls and are only a vehicle to get to something useful? Maybe sometimes I just need someone to illustrate I've twisted and turned to arrive for someone to appreciate my value? Maybe sometimes I just need the acknowledgement of little bits of perfection that punctuate all of my inadequacies?