Today while Paul records one last time with the reggae band and plays one last gig with AG, I'm in my office with a soy latte, my "Northfield Townie" T-shirt, and fifteen book boxes. Five already sealed stand stacked against one wall, bound for Vienna. The others take shape and slowly fill with books, music, pictures, mementos, significant and trivial pieces of the last four years. There are the scores I've touched so often (Figaro, Flute, Elixir, Lohengrin) and ones I have neglected (all of my Bach). Books testify to my ridiculously inconsistent taste in literature (If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, The Nanny Diaries). There is the small green ornament that fell off the H&G gingerbread house and rolled into the pit in the Cullen, and there's the drawing of Texas that Roland made (our backyard has a sign in it: "WE LOVE NATURE!"). There's the prompter made of Legos from the MET Rodelinda and several stuffed animals from HGO opening nights (parrot:Boheme; elephant:Aida). There are cards to save (for me), documents to save (for FG), a billion files to delete and reorganize, and quite a bit of trash.
There's the door that has stood open most of the time. It has framed friends and frenemies, and welcomed jokes, information, and lunch invitations. It's been my window on the busy pace of RB and the traffic at the hall computer, and on any day I could see most of my colleagues walk by it, their steps speaking. That door has also been shut for commiseration, tantrums (usually mine), tears, confidences, laughter, counsel, yoga, and naps.
This is the room I couldn't unpack in for a year, where I contemplated giving up and then decided to try, where I learned to do my job, where I got the first real taste of the absent-minded professor I have always been.
In a week this space will be anonymous again, shorn of me, ready to accept the next person and help him learn whatever it is he has coming. How a little corporate container makes this possible I am not certain, but part of moving is the experience of how powerfully we bleed into our possessions. My scores are filled with the people who have sung them, and it's remarkable to find out what's easy to toss and what's essential to keep.
But these walls, window, and door are something else, mine until the minute I leave, and then never mine again.