My friend Michelle had just opened an office on Manzanita Avenue, between a donut shop and computer repair shop.
“You have to come see it,” she said. “I’m so excited.”
“I’ll stop by this week,” I promised. “Let me know what time works best.”
“Anytime, I’m still getting everything set up,” she admitted. “I don’t have any appointments scheduled for another two weeks…I’m waiting on a few things.”
I thought about stopping by on my lunch break, taking a quick peek, and then going back to work. Instead, I waited until after my shift ended and took the twenty-minute drive, stopping off for coffee. Traffic was light, but the wait for two iced, caramel macchiatos was long enough to make impatient customers angry. When I picked up my order, I offered the baristas a compassionate smile, relieved that I was done with my own customer service duties for the day.
Michelle was inside her office with the door open, moving items from boxes to shelves. I entered with a “Hello, I made it” and waited for her to see me. She welcomed me in and thanked me for the coffee.
“This is just what I needed,” she took a sip, motioning for me to sit in the chair next to the window as she sat in the one across from me.
“How’s it going?” I looked around at the space.
“Great,” she nodded at her progress. “I have more books to organize, some pictures, and ornaments…just to make the place feel homey.”
“It feels homey,” I laughed. “I might have to get a session,” I joked.
“Oh yeah…” she put her cup on the small table between us and then leaned back in her chair. “What do you want to talk about?”
“I was just kidding,” I waved my hand dismissively.
“You sure?” she pressed. “I have time.”
“Yeah, I’m good.”
“Positive,” I shook my head.
She sat quiet, crossed her legs at the knee, and stared at me. I avoided her glare and looked over at the bookshelf, reading titles printed on hard and soft spines: The Gift of Imperfection, When Things Fall Apart, Finding Your Own North Star, Transformational Life Coaching.
“Nice collection,” I said, continuing to read more titles, as many as I could make out.
“What are you avoiding?” she leaned in to catch my eye. “In your life right now?”
“You’re not avoiding a very special project?” she smiled, but the moment still felt awkward, invasive.
I thought about it, that very special project of mine, and then stood up to leave.
“Wait,” she followed, grabbing my arm.
“I don’t want a session,” I ripped my arm from her grip. “I just came to see your office…that’s it.”
“Come back inside,” she pleaded, and I obliged.
We returned to our seats, and this time she chatted on and on about how much she still needed to do, what made her decide now was the right time to open her life coaching business, what she hoped to accomplish. I congratulated her on everything, wished her the best.
“I better get going,” I said after another fifteen minutes. “I’ve got a couple other errands to run.”
“Wait,” she marched over to her bookshelf, pulled a book from it, and returned. “Read this when you’re ready.”
“Creating Your Best Life,” I read the title aloud. “Thanks,” I waved and left.
When I was far enough from earshot, I mumbled words of discontent, expressed shock at her audacity. It’s not a surprise that I didn’t curl up with the book that night, that I chose to stew in anger, replay the insult for weeks before digging the book out of my trunk, opening it and finding my way back to a very special project I had saved five years earlier on a Yoda memory stick.