I am beginning to return from the land of the dead.
I mean that is in “I’m crawling out from the weight of the work I’ve had to do” sense, although I confess that as the limo stopped and started its way down the BQE at rush hour on the way home from the airport and saw the Manhattan skyline silhouetted in the summer haze like paper cutouts of a city, I wondered about whether the city was really here at all, whether I’d returned to some liminal place, a pale imitation of the city that would disappear with the first puff of wind. I puffed out my cheeks and blew toward the skyline but all I got was fog on the window.
I was coming back from my first visit to the Toy Factory’s other office, the place where the toys are assembled. I was talking to the people who sell the toys about one of the ones I helped make, the one that’s been taking all my waking and a good many of my sleeping hours these last few weeks. I was very nervous about this presentation, in part becuase I was originally just supposed to chime in on someone else’s presentation, but at the last minute, he because ill an I had to fly solo. I worked all weekend on it and much of my night in the one and only 5 star hotel I’ve ever stayed in. But it went well. And in one of the things that continues to amaze me about the toy factory, the person who asked me to do it told me to my face how well she thought I did and then turned around and wrote a long and effusive email about my performance and sent it to both my bosses, one of whom turned around and forwarded it to most of the people I work with. I’m not sure I ever did a job where I felt so appreciated, where inevitably people take the time to tell you when you’re doing well and to pass that opinion on to people who need to hear it. It makes a huge difference.
The downside: looks like I’m going to have to give the talk again in my own office.
While I didn’t get to take full advantage of the hotel, it was hard not to notice how spectacular it was. It was somewhat unassuming from the front. My cab pulled up and by the time I’d paid the driver, my bag had already magically been unloaded from the trunk and was on its way to my room. The man who opened my car door and escorted me inside asked my name and then walked me to the front desk and told them who I was and everything was taken care of.
The room was nearly as big as my apartment and was perfect in every way. The most comfortable beds. A doorbell on the front door and a series of buttons you could push to indicate what you might need from the staff — room service, peace and quiet, housekeeping. The closet held cozy robes, a clothes brush, a carved wooden shoe horn and umbrella in case it might be raining. There was so much coffee that I didn’t need to leave the room. There were elaborate lighting options, including reading lamps on both sides of the beds that focused the light just on the page and didn’t light up the whole room. I took a long hot bath in the giant marble soaking tub with all sorts of good smelling herbal concoctions that were on the side of the bath. The toilet got its own room, as did the shower, which had an enormous shower head that felt like rain water. I met a coworker for dinner and we ate outside on the terrace overlooking the small lake on the property. It was gorgeous. By the time I came back from dinner, magic elves had laid out a tiny white mat next to the bed and placed slippers on it. They’d replaced the towels I’d used in the bath and polished the bathroom. They’d turned down the bed and placed a square of chocolate on the bedside table. The lights were dimmed and on the television was a video of a forest with soft music playing in the background. If you have to stay up late working, it’s really not a bad place to be.
But it’s nice to be home. I have a lot of catching up to do on things (including my taxes, which still need to be filed). But I’ll take a few days to catch my breath. Time to start running again. And playing guitar. Because The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” is not going to butcher itself.