I miss using the right key the first time to open the office door. And using my dorm key on the first try, even though I know that the office uses the key with the slightly longer neck. I miss feeling the ridges of the key ever so slightly glide through the keyhole, bumping smoothly across the thingamajig inside the door.
I miss listening to the keyboard keys clack away to Spanish salsa music or some weird jazz music playing on the iMac on the desk you inherited from my last academic adviser.
I miss expertly making copies for you while our banter hangs in the air, waiting for me to return or for one of us to remember what we were originally going to say before the other derailed the conversation. I miss the aftermath of our conversations, particularly the ones that popped a bubble in my head and released a hundred thoughts of this, that, and the other, usually about life or writing or being an adult (eck) and would leave me writing or playing DJ with the office’s Spotify account while you taught class next door or hurried off to a meeting.
I miss straightening up loose files and paper and books around the office. I miss labeling the tabs in the many binders to make sure everything is easy to find when it needs to be found (even though I know A won’t touch them).
I miss asking you about the homework assignments just to be able to talk to you when the day is slow or even incredibly busy and our banter barely makes an appearance to brighten my day.
I miss the random Corn Salsa jars (tomato-less!) you re-purposed to house different kinds and shapes of Trader Joe’s chocolate that appeared on my work desk, particularly during those weeks that I was only physically present to the world, a shell of myself walking around out of habit and a fear of missing a class to spend days curled up in my dorm room listening to my heartbeat throb through my ear pressed up against my pillow.
I miss how you were one of the few that took my silence for what it was, for my insides aching with anxiety or sadness or loneliness and knew that while I didn’t say anything, that we understood you knew and you were there if I wanted to say something but you were still there even if I didn’t.
I miss the comfort of the office.
I miss working late and working early and working events and not working events and teasing A and A teasing me while working these events or not working those events.
I miss taking pictures of events for the office to use. I miss filling the plastic water cups with cubes of cheddar cheese and butterfly crackers and even once or twice filling my Wonder Woman tumbler with the cranberry spritzer that while tasted good at the time, would always make my head pound half an hour later and I missed doing it (not just because I would do it anyway) because we knew that the food and the drink and the cups and the napkins would just be tossed out and we told everyone after the event as a group and individually to help themselves to the table full of reception food that they would forget about among the visiting writer(s) for the night conversing with everyone and they were so enthusiastic and magnetic that they and we – but never really we – would forget about the food because the company was always better.
I miss smiling when I checked both the mailboxes and found them to be occupied with mail, even if it was just a regular envelope from someone across campus because I think I liked figuring out how to position them on your desk so you wouldn’t overlook them or accidentally put books on top of them, drowning them in a sea of academia for a few hours to a few days until you went looking for something completely unrelated. Or so I imagine.
I even miss the wrappers to A’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups being strewn around the floor or our work desk when she’s preoccupied with her biology or chemistry or anatomy book, staring intently at the pages while she twirls her chaotic but mesmerizing ringlets of hair around her highlighter. Or pen. Maybe once it was a pencil.
I miss the old coffee machine that sat in the corner of the office for the longest time before it found a new home somewhere and yet I like to imagine that it’s still there, below the small cork board covered with the fronts of pretty cards and the thumbtack from which the mailbox keys dangle, never to be separated.
And now I guess my the spare key to the office hangs there, too. Or, again. No longer keeping my dorm key company because I don’t need it anymore.