These days, the workplace feels like a ghost town with rows upon rows of empty white cubicles, the air unnaturally still. The younger ones who kept the place humming with their exuberance and fashion statements and not-yet-crushed ambition and romantic hopefulness, are gone. The older ones who could always calm you with a wry word or a dose of seasoned pragmatism, are gone. The ones in the middle, the ones who are your age, people you came up through the ranks with, whom you consider friends, many of them are also gone. It feels like the slow dimming of a vibrant and still-worthy enterprise, choked off by budget contingencies.
Let me state that I'm happy to have my job. Actually, the work itself, the messing about with words, the gritty elegance of the stories, all of that I love. I have very little ego these days, yet I am obsessive by nature and my work ethic is as compulsive as it has always been. Still, it is disconcerting to walk the floor and see the dark offices and empty cubicles where so much energy used to reside. It's like the slow leak of air from the invisible pinprick in a once festive, now faded balloon.
I am home sick today, trying to fight off the flu. I am almost thankful for my sore throat, aching limbs, cotton-wool head, chills from fever. It is a guilty pleasure to climb back under my covers, a legitimate excuse to not see, for today at least, the dwindling spirit, the imperceptible spiraling down of our great dreams and imaginings. Today, I will take a break from the question that shadows everything: What now? Cold outside. Warm in here. Delicious sleep, baby.