The scene, two months ago:
The partner I work with most frequently is sick. Every time I stop by in her office she is doing ten things at once: talking on a conference call, responding to emails, editing one of my memos, rubbing lotion into her hands, and flitting about the office moving stacks of papers back and forth. And sneezing. There is tissue everywhere. She’s been to the doctor. She tells me they won’t call her in another prescription unless she goes back, so she needs to leave at 3. And then 3 comes and goes, but this partner is still popping up everywhere. Emailing on the way to doctor, calling me from her cell, handing out assignments like her life depended on it. We do a conference call with an expert witness while she sits in the waiting room. We pause and resume while she’s in the cab on the way home, and I know when she’s home because I can hear her 18 month old son’s overflowing excitement. She sends an email to the team: I’m out, but working from home. Don’t worry.
I think, no wonder you can’t kick this cold, lady. Breathe.
The scene, yesterday:
I am on my way out of the office and I am doing ten things at once: shoving everything I need for the next business trip into a bag, answering phone calls, printing memos, responding to emails, and updating one last document. I am not flitting around the office, but careening, crashing into walls and windows and chairs. It’s not winter anymore and I am sweaty. I need to leave by 4:15. And then 4:15 comes and goes and I am on the train, balancing two bags and my umbrella and downloading voicemails onto my blackberry and sending out apologetic emails. I am in the waiting room at the dentist, with stress-induced jaw tension, writing a case summary. I am sitting under the glare of the dentist’s light, scheduling the next business trip, while contemplating the necessity of a $200 piece of headgear that will stop me from grinding my teeth at night. I text my little team of paralegals: I am at the dentist, but I’m working. Don’t worry. And one prescription for muscle-relaxers later, I spill into the Burger King next door and spread my work across a table, knocking the paper crown out of the way, to work some more while I wait for Husband to come pick me up.
I think, no wonder you can’t unclench your jaw, lady. Breathe.
Also, how quickly your life can turn into something you never dreamed.