Nervous, I walk slowly toward our designated meeting place, a large place that takes up two whole floors of the north tower in the W Building. Nobody calls W Building, Building W, even though the building’s official name is not “W.” In order to get there via foot after riding the subway —Line 1— I must walk about two big blocks, which, if I remember correctly, ought to be a quarter of a mile. Not that that matters much or at all, but obviously, it does … matter.
I stand at the first intersection I must cross through and feel like a complete fool as I wait, alone on a desolate street corner, for the light to signal the go ahead for pedestrians. The crosswalk light flickers to the rudimentary image of a green walking man and a strip of vertical green arrows (less the arrow stems). The vertical strip of lights slowly disappear from the top as a countdown to when walking through the crosswalk must cease. In the middle of the street, on one thick, white rectangular patch, I stand and wait as the strip of green lights slowly disappear. Until only two arrowheads remain, I run to safety on the other side of the street. The remaining aspects of the journey are much the same, and I don’t notice or feel the urge to detail more about it.
Warm air blasts my face as I emerge from the revolving door into the interior space of W Building. Vaulted are the ceilings within the foyer and atrium. I make my way past a small patch of indoor bamboo. Tall, thin, the bamboo, I imagine, resembles a towering bamboo forest-scape. Awe, I want to feel, and yet, sadness rises instead at the mildly kitsch aesthetic of a patch of bamboo in a lobby.
Eventually, I have to flip a fat U so that I may ride the escalator up to the seventh floor. I ride facing the same easterly direction for two floors at which point, going up requires another turn on myself. Again, I continue riding upwards for one floor and then walk forward to go up again, at which point I must turn on myself to continue going up. The process repeats itself for one and a half more times until I reach the seventh floor.
On the landing between the escalators that continue going up toward the eighth floor, I take a right and walk toward a large, metal red door that hangs from wheels and slides open to the left so that entrance may occur. A host-type person greets me, “Hello, how may I service you?” Service?, I think to myself. “Uh, I’m meeting someone.” “Excellent. And the name of your party?” “Um, Richard.” The host-type person looks at a screen tucked into a podium-type setup. “Yes, I see a Richard here with a note about an arrival. Your name please, Sir?” “Richard.” “Great, follow me.”
The host-type person walks me through the large red door’s opening and guides me through a lofty, dark, airy room divided by floor-to-ceiling booths. I can catch a glimpse of each person within these booth-type capsules as I pass, but I’m beginning to feel like I’m snooping. The host-type person slows, turns and presents an opening in the side of one of the booth-type capsules, “Sir.” “Uh, thank you.” As I approach, the voice of someone familiar oozes out of the opening. “Thanks, Kat. Tip yourself off my tab.” I slither past Kat and stand in the opening of the booth-type capsule where my awaiting date sits.
“Richard,” the low growl of the voice inside greets. “Richard,” I respond. And then, like he always does, he opens with some random, self-congratulating piece that only he seems to find clever, “The last time you cried, darling, what color were your tears?” I resist the desire to roll my eyes. I oblige, bored, unimpressed, “Clear, of course.” “Ah, dear boy, to build a life within clear walls is to build a life everyone can see.” I sit down across from him and purse my lips into a strained, feigned grimace-type smile, “Ah, but to believe in being seen, one must believe that others give a shit and look at you.” “Indeed. Those clear tears of yours,” he adds, “really do reveal your conceit.” Flat, I hear the words unwittingly jump out of my mouth, “Yes, Richard. Yes, they do.”