It gives you a certain pause, when the most engaging conversations you have happen with people who are between an eighth and a quarter of your age, or younger.
Since shaving a few weeks ago, I’ve also stopped wearing fall and winter sweaters. As a result, my belt buckle is more visible. Never before have so many people remarked on the daily shifts in the status of my facial hair or looked for the “hidden” picture on my belt buckle. Never has so much concern been giving to the holes in my spring sweaters.
Today, fascinated by the gelled, slick style of my hair, an impromptu conversation followed by a hands-on exhibition began between two keen fellows. It ended with the resolution that I should get a haircut.
I only see these people for about an hour a week, but we occupy the same space for about 32.5 each week. Honestly, I don’t even remember all of their names, even though I recognize all of their faces, only confusing a dozen sets of twins and siblings that I’m aware of.
So often, they clamour for my attention but have a hard time listening to me. They want to show me things that I don’t have the time for, so I tell them that we’ll look at it next time, when I have more time and don’t have to be somewhere else. My mental notes are written lightly in pencil and are quickly erased.
I keep asking them to be quiet, to give me a chance to speak. I never leave a conversation without having said all that I wanted to.
This is what I’ve been waiting for for nearly three years. I’ve been waiting for this familiarity, this comfort, this resilience. I like being able to plan ahead, think about who might enjoy what, how best to engage and deliver, and then fail and try again. More than anything, I like seeing the success, that explosive response to the achievement of a task dreamed up to inspire the imagination. After which, I delight in asking for more from the scurried minds still relishing.
It ends when I get home. After those 32.5 hours, I’m another car in traffic, another tenant waiting for the elevator, another empty stomach ordering take out.
It’s hard not to feel a bit greedy.