When I first saw you, I thought you were an apartment. You were all kitchen, wafting the smells of kimchi and tomato soup. You thudded Madonna songs onto the swells of your unfinished roof. It took ten steps for you to open to a maze of bright particleboard desks and teetering monitors.
You were a place we sprawled and argued, ate and cried and taped things on the wall. We strapped you together with duct tape and padlocks and extension cords. You watched us rearrange our desks like cars in a crowded lot, hovering anxiously over seat charts or laughing and shrugging at the sky. We strung and restrung our power cords and ethernet cables, information skimming your air ducts like a Christmas tree.
We spent dizzy focused weekends working together in a circle of light, checking and rechecking our screens, eating Vietnamese noodles and making wry faces at each other because we had said the words already. We launched and then turned your lights out like a long exhausted breath.
We spent Friday evenings curled up on your couches, drinking wine from plastic cups and telling stories, or drinking beer and screaming over video game controllers. We planned mini campaigns against our neighbors, those scoundrels and stealers of delivery food.
You hold a record of my growth like height marks in pencil. You watched me sketch battle plans on your whiteboards, erase them, and start again. You saw us raging, empty of ideas. You watched us disappoint each other. And you witnessed a hundred little sparks jumping from brain to brain, a thousand steps quickened by the thought of building the right thing, the best thing, and knowing how to start right now.
Don’t get me wrong; you weren’t perfect! Your light switches were a curious chaos, your locks barely clicked. Your shower sputtered hot water, then cold. I have your splinters in my feet.
But you didn’t need ionic columns or velvet curtains. You were our home instead, even when we didn’t deserve you.
So what I’m saying is: this is our fault. We need some space, you know? Something new.
We’re leaving you now, but this isn’t forever. When we’re sketching on shiny new whiteboards, or fiddling with our fancy new thermostat, or sitting looking at the view, part of us will be thinking of you. Remember that.
You were cramped and drafty, uneven and skid-marked. You didn’t improve our metrics, and you couldn’t build a thing. And you made us a tribe, you crazy architectural mess.