I’m a lucky girl for many reasons but one of them is because I have a few besties. There’s my wife, my mistress and a host of sister wives that make up my A-list. Then there’s the one no one in my friend circle has ever met but he’s the one I talk to most. And by most I mean almost all day, every day. He’s my office mate and I’m sure he had no idea what was about to befall him when my boss walked me into our shared office last June. And share I have. Over shared, in fact, most days. Everything that goes through my head comes out of my mouth and there is only one thin cubicle wall between me and him. He hears it all.
My office mate hears about Eliza’s tangley hair, Seth’s pant size, Lucille’s boyfriend. He hears about it when we are broke, he hears about my daily schemes to move to Mexico or California or back to the South. He hears about my grandmother’s cooking, my mother’s mildly off color sayings, my sister’s college dorm room. He hears my phone vibrate every time I get a text, which, as you might imagine, is a lot. He hears me arrange play dates, doctor’s appointments and pretty much run my life from where I stand in the space we share. He knows what I ate for breakfast and lunch. He knows what I’ll eat for dinner because I usually search for dinner recipes and I tell him about everything I run across. He knows I want coffee at 3 p.m. and that I have to take walkabouts around campus to think. We are not friends on Facebook because, really, what’s the point? He’s heard it all before.
He doesn’t get too excited by my constant jabbering. He listens, though, and responds.
“Oh, yeah?” he says when I find something fascinating on the interwebs.
“Really? She sounds like a great kid,” he’ll say when I talk about Eliza.
I’m pretty sure Seth is psyched that I have an officemate I can talk to because otherwise he’d have to hear the download of everything I thought about during the day when I get home. And, he knows working full-time is hard and he’s glad I’ve got a friend.
Yesterday my officemate was playing REM on Spotify. The sound of Michael Stipe’s voice sent me on the winding path of memory lane and, well my officemate, he went right with me.
“This totally reminds of high school and my friend Alex and my high school boyfriend Jessan. Alex used to drive us all around in this, like, 1989 Hyundai that was always breaking down. He went to MIT so he could really fix mechanical things,” I said. “It seemed like he was always on the side of the road in that thing.”
When Michael Stipe started singing You Are The Everything I piped up again.
“I was pretty sure he was singing to me when I’d listen to this way back when,” I said. “I once saw him in a skirt. Amazing concert.”
I’m not kidding this is what he has to listen to all day. But then sometimes I don’t think he minds.
“Yeah, listening to this is making me oddly nostalgic too,” he said. Then he talked about that girl, in that time. Then somehow we got on the subject of 90s super bands and then his seeing the Grateful Dead in Eugene then we came to the conclusion that his was a decidedly different experience than when I saw the Grateful Dead in Charlotte. Then we were on to kid check-ups and how to get them to eat their vegetables.
He has two kids, too, and we often compare sleepless notes about who got up in the middle of the night, for how long and who was cranky during drop off. We talk about how much is too much milk for a kid, what constitutes a laundry crisis and just how gross one’s car can get with children in it every day.
A few weeks ago he took his kids to see their grandparents in Arizona. He was gone for a week. A whole week. Five days of looking out the window with no one to talk to. Holy hell. Listening to my own voice in my own head was, evidentially, not an option for getting through five work days in silence so I ventured next door to my neighbors and made some new friends. This became a regular event while he was gone and they, whether they wanted to or not, go to hear my daily musings.
When he returned we processed his trip over coffee. How did they do on the plane, were your parents so excited, was it nice to get a kid break? I was so glad he was back and I’m sure my neighbors were too so they could actually get some work done.
Believe it or not, even with all my chattering, I listen too. He tells me about what’s going on in his life and I don’t tell anyone what he says. Like a good bestie, I keep to myself. So does he. I think it’s why he’s now on my A-list even if no one else on the list would recognize him.