Note: Sometimes, when things are all mixed-up and crazy, a late night drive with the windows down is all you really need. (I mean, after you’ve pulled up to the Krispy Kreme and found out they closed at 10.)
Last summer, I wrote this:
For two days, I have shown up for work somewhere entirely foreign and sat down at a cubicle, opened up my lock-box and looked inside to make sure my stapler, staples, 3 blue pens, roll of tape and one paper-clip are still there. I do not have a tape dispenser for my roll of tape. The girl next to me has staples, but no stapler. She also got a wooden card holder in the shape of a duck in her lock-box. Anyway, she shares the tape dispenser, and I share the stapler.
In training this week, our trainer gave us Legos to play with, recognizing some of us pay more attention when our hands are occupied. The first day, I built a Lego landscape with green grass and a blue sky, and the word “hi” spelled out in yellow Legos right in the middle. I also created a bumblebee, a striped sock, and a candy-cane. She was right. My hands were occupied and my brain was free to listen.
The second day, I built a house, an apple, a striped garage, a medical shot, and a checklist to demonstrate her speaking points.
Today, I left the Legos alone, and drew a family on a piece of scrap paper she had placed in the middle of the table for our use, along with markers.
In the middle of the lesson, she said, “Brooke, if you have something you need to work on, just go ahead and go.” I looked around totally confused, and everyone else just sat and stared at me awkwardly. “I’m paying attention,” I said, “I’m just drawing.” I held up a piece of paper that said “strengthening families” in block letters above the family I had drawn. “Well,” she said, “It looks like you are doing something else.”
I put the paper down and tried my best to pay attention in the traditional way until lunch. For some reason, I was trying really hard not to cry. It was a good-looking family.
At lunch, I went home and ate by myself. When I returned, I built a living room out of Legos. I built a TV, two couches, two recliners, a bookshelf, two lamps and a piano complete with sheet music.
The trainer beamed.
I wrote it after my first week on the job thinking I was never going to fit in there.
But today I took down all the pictures and notes and paperwork tacked to my cubicle, which I love, and sat across from my supervisor swallowing tears as she went through the exit paperwork and talked about what a great adventure I’m about to have.
It’s just that I know right where everything is here, and I’m surrounded by my good friends and co-workers, including the girl who first shared her tape dispenser. The funny thing is, my stapler broke sometime during the year, and I started swiping hers and not putting it pack. Today I gave her back her stapler and all my staples. (Also, a Butterfinger and a bunch of sweet tarts and other junk stockpiled in my top drawer). All my files have been distributed to six new people sitting in some training around the corner with a pile of Legos in front of them. I have to laugh at how scary everything seemed at first.
Tomorrow is my last day. 12 pm, Eastern Standard Time I am a free woman. It doesn’t feel as awesome as I thought it would, mostly because everyone here is so dang positive, encouraging and supportive. I feel like digging my toe in the sand and stalling in the parking just lot to hang around a little bit longer. We’re having a little brunch, though, and I think that’s the perfect note to end on. I could not have asked for a better experience (or a better meal option, breakfast AND lunch!)
The strongest, most positive encouragement I have received towards Belize and Grad School has been from inside this building. There has never been a single sideways glance or eye-roll, no judgment or hesitation. Just a pure and simple “go for it!” a thousand percent, whatever it is. The blessing in that, and even at the Boys & Girls Club, is not lost on me. A lot of people go their entire lives and never find jobs or supervisors of friends like this. I need a new word for thankful.
Not only that, I have realized through my time here (and through Corinne Baily Rae’s song, which some people think is overplayed, but I do not) that I want to be the type of person who says, “I hope you get your dreams.” Pure and simple.
Next stop: Santa Familia, Belize
Followed by: Europe
And back to: Belize
And potentially: Cochabamba, Bolivia
And if I am accepted for next fall: Tulane, sugar! (in the words of my southern aunts and cousins waiting for me there…)