-Do you like my office?
-I *love* your office!
-What do you love about it?
From my own perspective, my office is a rathole. It’s windowless, and so I am tempted to call it a cave, but that makes it sound either cozy or mysterious and it is neither of those things. It is a small dark room that can either be over-lit with florescent lights or under-lit with a couple dim lamps. Most of the time I opt for under-lit until a student shows up, and I say “Let’s get some light in here,” as I scramble for the light switch. I don’t want them to think that I’m secretly a troll.
But Smoke loves my office, and every time he comes to visit I’m reminded of the days when I was his age and I would visit my own parents at work. It was like being a celebrity and visiting a small but exotic town. There were endless smiling people to greet, and though I had no idea who they were, they often knew my name. There were new things to eat—like cracker cheese sandwiches from the vending machines, or clam chowder from the cafeteria—and I always left with souvenirs. I remember leaving my father’s office once with a small book printed on special paper. The contents featured illustrations of pansies that also looked like monkeys. I had seen it on his desk, and held it like a sacred object. When he asked if I wanted to bring it home, I could barely believe my good fortune.
This morning Smoke woke up with a touch of pink eye. I had no meetings to attend or classes to teach, just a mountain of grading that needed my attention and so I packed the iPad and some headphones and brought my son to work with me. It seemed the whole day was a treat to him. It was a treat for him to draw at my desk with special pens while I sat at my computer. It was a treat that I let him watch a movie on the iPad and eat the stale snacks in my desk drawer. At one point I turned around and saw him crunching. “What are you eating?” I asked, and he held up a box of chocolate nonpareils that had been empty for months. He was eating the tiny candy dots that had fallen off the chocolates.
For Smoke, I imagine, sitting in my hole of an office is less like visiting an exotic town with friendly locals, and more like resting your head in a loved one’s armpit. It may be a little funky, but it’s also intimate, special and safe.