Even as he did it he wasn’t sure why. But there seemed no going down now. No coming off of this weird, wild high that he was on. So Dylan did the opposite of his instinct, continuing his trend for the day. He clutched his wrapper and hit the top floor. His goal was actually the roof and a place to ponder, but he would need to go through the 32nd floor to reach the roof stairs.
As he rose effortlessly, Dylan thought about the 32nd floor, which he had visited exactly three times in his career at Homsher, Herr & Sons. Once was the day he came for his interview. Dylan had many of the same quirks and patterns already embedded in his system then, and wondered if he could find his place in the world. In fact, he awkwardly even said such a phrase out-loud during the interview! He wasn’t sure of too many other details from the interview or who exactly was there, but he certainly remembered the reassuring smile of Jill from across the table.
The second time to the top was only a week later, when he came in for his orientation and hiring forms. Forms were like a child playing with Legos to Dylan, something he found precise and redundant and endlessly engaging. As he continued rising in the elevator, Dylan smiled wistfully at the younger version of himself. Back then Dylan had a lighter step towards work, even what amounted to a passion for it. Where did that go? Was it buried under the pile of paperwork which became much less appealing, or was it…
The elevator door opened at its summit. Dylan paused, and for the first time he remembered the third visit and started having second thoughts. Before the door could close and he would cower back down to the lobby, he took a determined step forward to enter the hallway.
The third time. It was really one of his turning points in his life and career, even though it seemed so innocuous at the time. It was at his 5th year anniversary of his employment with the company. The fancy invitation in his mailbox said: Mr. Trout is invited to a reception hosted by members of the board of trustees, occurring on the 32nd floor from 5:00 - 6:30 PM. Arriving promptly at 5, Dylan was hesitant to socialize, and his usual social phobias were kicking in before he could even reach the receptionist.
“Hello, Mr. Trout. And Congratulations on your tenure with us,” said the overly friendly young lady from behind her over-sized counter. “Please, enter the board room to the left and introduce yourself to the board and other co-workers.”
Dylan was currently standing in the same position, with the comforting difference that this time the room was dim and he was alone. He passed a glance down the hallway to his left where he had walked naively five years ago. Could it really have been five years ago? Sometimes it felt like last week, and sometimes like a dream that had never really happened.
Crumbs of Curiosity: Part 6 of 10
As he neared the board room way back then, he heard casual laughter and conversation. There was even some music playing from a corner speaker. Taking three deep breaths as he was trained, Dylan then stepped into the room and shook the first hand that was extended to him.
“My name is Dylan Trout, from accounting.”
He repeated this phrase several times, and though Dylan couldn’t quite hold eye contact or sustain the conversation, he was at least passing as normal with the repetitive practice. Then something changed, and seemed to leave a lasting mark which he carried with him ever since that moment.
“Oh, yes, dear! I know you!” came an elderly voice from behind him. “In fact, I have been patiently waiting five years for you to come up here and see me again.”
Remembering the echoes of that voice startled Dylan in his present state, and made him quickly turn to the right in the darkened corridor and find the stairway door. Dylan needed fresh air, and fresh thoughts. He wasn’t sure he wanted to go back to the memory and the echo and the past yet. He touched the cellophane wrapper again and climbed the 12 stairs to the roof.
Breathe. Stop. Think.
It was a beautiful clear evening with the sun just beginning to set in the west and a pleasant breeze coming from the south. Dylan wondered why he didn’t come up to this roof before to collect his thoughts. Then he remembered that life for the last few years hadn’t really needed this kind of escape. And he thought of what was twelve steps below him and the repressed memory. Dylan’s mind was dealing with a tug-of-war which could define him yet again, all because of a cookie in the morning! Then, quietly behind him, he heard a shuffle of gravel and realized he was not alone.