Today is the day I find out her name.
My first steps into the building introduce me to a familiar face. A face I have known for years. I knew her through my hardest classes, my most fun days and my most normal days. I knew her through all the major roadblocks and accomplishments of the last seven years.
I always interacted with her in the same way, by chance glances in her direction. I know how creepy it sounds, but it wasn’t like that. I never sought her out, she always appeared near me.
My first sight of her was during my freshman orientation of college. My group happened to walk next to her group, we passed each other for a fleeting second. Her brown hair was pulled into a high ponytail, giving me a full view of her tanned face. It was flush with the excitement of starting college. She had on a purple Huskies shirt and the color suited her perfectly. As she walked away, I turned to catch a final glimpse of her. She had on a worn-in pair of blue jeans that had obviously seen much life. She looked so comfortable in them. I could tell they were a pair that must have brought confidence, like only a favorite item of clothing could.
Seeing her is the only detail I remember perfectly from that day. It is not because she was beautiful, though she absolutely was. It is because the simple, fleeting sight of her gave me that first hope that only a new college student could feel. I didn’t have to dream of the opportunity for new friends or new love; the opportunity was here, now.
I was shy and sheltered in high school. Always under the thumb of a controlling father. I never had the confidence to try something new or put myself out there in any way. College was the beginning of a new life. An opportunity for me to become the person I didn’t even know I wanted to be yet.
It all started with the glance of her.
Today is the first day of my new job, I am working as a hiring consultant for an inner-city woman’s health non-profit. It is my first real job after getting my Masters in Human Resources. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous starting today, but those nerves disappeared as soon as I saw her. Whenever she is around, I know it will all be perfect. She has always been an omen of goodness in my life.
I walk in and the impossible happens. She looks at me and says, “Tony?” Her voice is soft and warm, like listening to a gentle harp playing. I nod, too nervous to say anything.
She smiles. At me. I have seen her smile before, but it was never in my direction. I find myself returning her smile, feeling more joy, at that moment, than I had from all of the other times I saw her.
“I am Meredith, the HR Manager. I will be showing you around today.” She then reaches out to shake my hand.
I reach forward and grasp it, “Nice to meet you, Meredith. I am excited to be here.”
I know her name and I have touched her hand.
“We are excited to have you on. It’s been a struggle this past year, we can’t seem to find the right people to get on board.” She releases my hand then turns to walk further in the building.
“I am happy to improve on that. You all have such a wonderful mission, I want to see your work continue.”
“We do, and you are part of the team now.”
“Right. Still getting used to the new job.” We stop outside a door and she says, “This is the breakroom.”
We head inside, it’s not anything special, standard with a fridge, microwave, coffee pot, sink and some sitting areas. “I know it’s not spectacular, we haven’t had the resources to renovate it.”
“It’s perfectly fine.”
“Help yourself to a cup of coffee, I am waiting on another person before we can start orientation. I will come grab you as soon as they arrive.”
“I will. Thank you.”
At that, she walks out of the breakroom, closing the door behind her with a soft click.
I realize a part of me has loved her forever, but I have only loved my idea of her. I now have an opportunity to really get to know her, and I am terrified of the prospect.
At that thought, my years of education come up and slap me. I understand the dangers of having an attraction to a coworker, especially my boss. I can’t treat her any different than I treat anyone else. I can’t let her know that she has been a big part of my life, for years.
Besides, my idea of her, may not match her real personality.
Only time will tell with Tony and Meredith. Check in for the next installement next week.