There is this very nice man in the neighborhood behind my house. I don’t know his name. I sort of know which house is his. I know he has a dog. We see each other from time to time in the morning when we are both half awake and perfectly happy with a quick nod as we pass — him on his side of the road and me on mine. And usually our canine companions comply with the courteous protocol, but the other day Bauer was feeling sassy and before I could retract the retractable leash we were heading straight across the non-interaction line. His dog on a leash. My dog on a leash. Each one spinning in circles trying to get a meaningful sniff of the rear-end of the other leaving us owners to make inane small talk while getting grossly leash-entangled ourselves.
We eventually ended up entwining our arms and I am closer to this guy I hardly know than I have ever been to some members of my inner circle. One of us finally had to drop our lead and take on de-tangling while the other kept an eye on the pups and held tight to loose collars. I have no idea what I said during those few awkward minutes but I guarantee it lacked depth, wisdom, or many two-syllable words. He just laughed nervously and apologized. And then on we went, veering off our usual routes for fear we might run into each other again!
I find it funny to be in this kind of situation from time to time. And I always think that I should somehow be able to support the awkwardness leaving the both of us feeling no worse for the wear. This same kind of thing happens during an initial project walk through when inevitably we all end up in the to-be-renovated master bathroom — two of you and three of us (architect, salesperson and me) squished into the most intimate space in your home conversing across a toilet lid reflecting back to ourselves in the three sided vanity mirror. “So tell us again why this space doesn’t work for you?” A conversation meant for longer-standing relationships and yet there we are.
The thing is, it’s just part of the deal of human interaction. There is no rule book and the suggested social norms for good manners didn’t consider these moments. Maybe that is why this work we do is so fulfilling. We actually seek out the most entangled situation and the most personal of spaces and stand guard. The vulnerability is real.
I’m one hundred percent certain that any one of our clients would opt for a build project that more resembles a quiet morning walk with few distractions and minimal invasion of personal space. And I wish that’s what we could promise. But instead we offer the next best thing: friendship, partnership, a path, knowledge, time, patience…while you de-tangle your design dreams and we take a careful hold of the lead. Don’t rush; we’ll just look sillier. Stay on the planned route; we need to bump into each other as much as possible. And, in the end, our awkwardness will give way to something quite beautiful and authentic. In fact you might even start hosting parties in your master bathroom… (too awkward?)