My joints are aching, nose is stuffed, and brain is fuzzy as the dust balls underneath my dresser. Yet another ruthless virus snuck up on me so stealthily that all I felt yesterday was general malaise, attention deficit, and the constant nagging thought that I should have gone out for a run. But I should have known; I slept before midnight (which is virtually unheard of in my habits), and this morning the virus said hello. “Well, hello right back at you,” I said. “Even though I can’t get rid of you this minute, I’m taking some acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and pseudoephedrine to foil your plans. Oh, and a couple of caffeine too.” I managed to get through the day gracefully, but by the end of the day, I was starting to feel like death again. The joys of working in a hospital.
Maybe it’s my sickness, or maybe it’s almost that time of month again, but in the midst of my brain fuzz growth and general “je ne suis pas dans mon assiette” disposition, I’ve been thinking a lot (too much) about me in the serious relationship department, and some things are surfacing clearer than ever (and has seemingly put me in a creative writing mode, as you shall see below).
This relationship department of mine is rather unkempt. From past code reds, break-ins, and more rewarding markets in the friendship, academic, and career departments, I’ve had this part of me shut down and locked up for several years. The key to this door’s lock is stored somewhere only I can locate. There is an inch-thick layer of dust that covers the shelves, spider webs that decorate every wall’s corners, and rusty spots that adorn the door handles and lighting fixtures. Deep within, located in a secret room with a hidden password-controlled door, secured within a bullet proof box, is my heart.
Recently, my friendship department has been flourishing alongside my career department. I have been getting a lot of traffic and successful transactions in these areas, and the effect of that has trickled up to central headquarters, and I have been very busy and happy. One day, I found a couple of handsomely wrapped gift boxes sitting in my mailbox while I was getting some work done in the office of my friendship department. Surprised, I opened them both up quickly, only to find that they were empty. Although I felt a pang of disappointment at first, I was suddenly washed over and overwhelmed by a feeling of hope that I last experienced many years ago. At first, I closed both boxes, and set them aside.
But then, I couldn’t stop coming back to these magical boxes. There’s just a warm and inviting aura that radiates from within, and it makes me feel giddy and forget my worries every time I open them up. In the beginning, I kept opening them both at the same time, peering with interest into each one’s empty interior, wondering what I could fill them with, and I became accustomed to the comfortable feeling of having both boxes’ mysterious effects on me. The more time I got exposed to these boxes, the more I kept thinking about my neglected relationship department, and whether I should open its doors again and clean it up for operation once more.
Later, I became interested in seeing what it felt like to open each box individually. Both boxes emitted very similar auras that I could not differentiate them at first, but soon I came to tell the difference between them. I started to prefer the first box over the second box primarily because it caught my eye first, despite the fact that I was more accustomed to the second box as it fits easier in my hand.
One day, when I opened the boxes one-by-one again, I noticed something inside the second box that was not there before. It was a small, carefully wrapped rectangle package, with clear tape around all the edges and openings so that it was completely sealed. With some difficulty, I got it to open, and I found a key inside that looked very familiar, along with an invitation letter to re-open the relationship department for business. This invitation was not only without addressee, it also did not have a deadline for response. The key must be the one for my relationship department’s lock, which I thought that I had so securely hidden, but was somehow found without my knowing. I carried this second box, opened, with the key lying inside, walked to the locked door of my relationship department, and paced outside. I debated with myself whether or not I should use the key, and I became confused as to why I suddenly felt an affinity to this second box, but I decided to replace the key within and leave it for now.
These days, every time I open these two boxes, I am curious and reflective of the contents within; one remains empty, while one contains the key and an invitation letter that does not even have my name on it. I have come to notice and appreciate all the nuances of the second box more. I continue to consider opening my relationship department, but I cannot yet bring myself to do so. To put it simply, I am scared. I cannot go in there alone. There is a lot of work to do to clean up, repair, and make presentable again. I have not worked there for so long, there are many things I would have to brush up on and learn. There are many rooms that I have never actually ventured in to, and I am afraid of what they might contain. Most importantly, I am worried that as business grows in this department again, I will become more eager to open my secret room, and thus breach the security around my heart. I don’t want it to get hurt again, and that is what is so clear to me now.
The only way I might be swayed to open this department again would be if a further motivating item appears in either of these boxes. I still open them daily to bathe in their auras, and I now more often experience longing for business to be up and running again, but I still await the day for something new will appear inside these boxes. Anyway, my academic and career departments are still booming, and they should remain my main priority until a proposal with good opportunity for return and reward comes up for my most neglected department.