There is an old, steel, warehouse that sits on the shoulder of the 495 North on-ramp in Hopkinton, Massachusetts that has stoically held FH Perry Builder for the last twenty years. Its interior walls are taupey and pin-holed, its carpet green and stained with years of staff meeting coffee drippings, its conference room window held shut with an old penny for a shim. I know the sound of the exterior breeze-way door being pulled open, temporarily changing the air pressure enough to vibrate the lobby walls, indicating someone’s arrival. Thump. I know the spot where the glass reflects the office next to mine and I can have a “face to face” conversation with Angela without either of us getting up from our desks. I know it’s 5:00 when the overhead door for the neighboring tenant rattles down the long tracks to its close, echoing across the steel beams above the dropped ceiling.
And yet I didn’t really know any of these intimacies I had created with the space until the thrum of the thrown lock on the aluminum door jamb echoed differently this time. No furniture to bounce off of. No paper stacks to absorb it. No server hum to overpower it. The movers had taken all of that out with them on their dollies. Twenty years disappeared into the back of a moving van and rode unceremoniously away into its, for now, unknown and brave future.
It’s okay. This is what we wanted! Because we have, actually, changed. We are becoming something new. And when you are becoming something new out of something old, it’s best to not be tethered to taupe. We seek new walls — or maybe no walls at all. We crave inspiration that reminds us of our craft and our purpose as its stewards. We believe in our community and, when the time is right, we will find a new space that enriches the lives of anyone who comes to visit. We are ready to tell our story rather than have our story be told. And yet to do so…I must throw this lock one last time and let go.
Life is meant to be full of these transitions. Thanks goodness, because it’s what keeps us in business! This time around I only wish I had allowed for more ritual. Some closure and celebration instead of finding myself alone sorting through a handful of keys in an empty space at the end of business on the last day of the month. I did do a slow walk around and let the memories flood through me for a few minutes. That seemed right.
I imagine our clients must go through this to a certain extent. A conclusion that what will be is so much better than what is. That wisdom replaces whimsy and that quirkiness is no longer “sweet”. I get it. And I get that there also might be a moment of stillness between what was and what will be. A moment when you reflect on the intimacies you shared with this once defining space. Because, in fact, any space that holds humans holds rage and fear, sadness and grief, boundless joy, laughter and deep smiles, secret love, jealousy, admiration. Stories upon stories of becoming somebody. A space that does this for so long is not easy to let go of, even when it’s well past time.
And so, since my life’s work is to meet you in transition, let me know if I can help you with a ritual before we actually start demo. Take it slowly. Say goodbye. We’ll hold your future with care and promise. Maybe we keep a piece of something or burn a piece of something or say a piece about something. Or maybe we paint the wall behind the stove that no one will ever see taupe. You know, whatever it takes to acknowledge that you can build a new space only because the old space built you.
All my best,