We embrace before she opens the glass door, inviting me in. Tall and slender, with short blonde hair, my friend Cheryl welcomes me just outside the main entrance. I enter the reception area and step onto the multicolored slate floor.
The all-too-familiar space feels comfortable but foreign. It doesn’t resonate with me like it once did. The decor differs. The logo on the mahogany paneling spells another name. The receptionist greets me only as a visitor.
“Cheryl, I feel like this is coming full circle.”
She chuckles and nods before we walk through the same door we did fifteen years ago.
This is the identical lobby where we met when Cheryl hired me. I remember during the interview, she asks about my organizing skills. I explain how I use color-coded files by function. “Green files for compensation, yellow for staffing—”
“Oh, sure, yellow for the whiz quiz,” she interjects.
We erupt in laughter over her colorful quip about pre-employment urine testing. Compatible humor cements a friendship enduring long after we each leave the organization.
Yet, here we both stand. Together, again, in the former corporate headquarters. Cheryl explains her current employer moved to this location a few years ago. As we stroll through the halls, the executive wing looks familiar but without the Fortune 500 pressures. Currently, cubicles without partitions spread steely efficiency in the common work areas.
Pointing to her right, she orients me, “That used to be Tom’s office.” His mop of white hair and our interactions flash in my mind.
I walk toward the smell of savory, grilled beef and notice the lunchroom sign and furnishings. “This was Don’s office,” she reminds me.
Part of me expects to hear Don booming Kryptonite from his Friday afternoon medleys. I wonder how his conference table, chairs, and massive desk ever fit into this space.
“It seems so small,” I reply.
Did his office seem immense because of his personality or executive position? Maybe it’s a mirage of memory.
During the tour, I notice significant walls missing while smaller utility rooms remain. The exterior structure stays the same, though. All vestiges of the corporate suite Cheryl hired me into are gone.
Chatting in her current office, we catch up on the last year, swapping journey highlights. I reveal my newfound writing passion and books under development. We schedule another time elsewhere for a more in-depth conversation.
She walks me through a corridor where the slate flooring leads to another exit. As I follow, I reflect on how the office now holds a different place in both our memories.
When I turn to leave, I sense a parallel between the building and myself that goes beyond this business. My outer structure remains, while I’ve overhauled my inner architecture. I’ve left corporate human resources behind and remodeled into an entrepreneur and author.
The door shuts behind me, closing a part of my history. I stroll along the pathway from the building, drinking in the landscape’s lush vegetation and soaking up the afternoon’s warm rays.
I have, indeed, come full circle. But, now, I walk a new path.