Thursday, April 20, 2006

Breaking up is hard to do

Last night I was honored to be asked to assist in giving a building tour of my last project to a group of commercial real estate people and architects. The event was sponsored by the local chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

It was pretty interesting listening to the different conversations around the tour groups…generally, the real estate people were more concerned with the d├ęcor of the building and the convenient access to the interstate than the environmental friendliness of the building. The architects, on the other hand, had all kinds of great questions about the design of the building and how our company achieved some of the more difficult features of the project, like constructing the huge windowed northern wall with only ten feet of clearance from the forest. The group had so many wonderful comments that it was very rewarding to stand back and think what a great accomplishment our team has done.

I looked back at the building as I walked to my car. It will soon be two years of my life that I’ve dedicated to the project…now we’re at the point where the company has been occupying the building for six months, but we’re still fighting over change orders and design issues. The superintendents and field guys have all moved on to other projects, but Eeyore and I remain consumed by this beast on a daily basis. The building is like an old lover that won’t quite let go of me and my soul – sometimes it’s a comfort to return to the familiarity of it, and sometimes I feel angry and resentful that I’m not freed from its clutches yet.

I had some really hard times on the jobsite. There were many days that I really wanted to quit and go back to the main office, back to the comfort of a quiet cubicle without being knee-deep in dirt, struggling to drive my car through the rutted construction entrance, and the daily issues of running a fully-functional office with almost zero resources. It was also a very lonely time for me, because it took some of the guys a very long time to accept me into the fold. Let’s face it, guys want to go to lunch and talk about boobs and motorcycles and whatever. Hey, I can do that too! But by the end of the job, we were one big happy but dysfunctional family and I love those guys like my brothers. Well, most of them. (SG, if you’re reading this, stop laughing!)

This place is also where I became comfortable in my own skin again. It had been a long time since I’d felt that way. And when I came back to the office, my friends marveled at the difference in me. I felt like when I came back from the field I had evolved into something a little more significant than I was back in 2004 when I asked to be placed on this project. It’s hard to describe, but the job had a significant impact on me and my self-confidence.

Each time I walk through the halls, I think to myself, “This is probably the last time that I’ll walk through this hall….this is probably the last time I’ll walk through the cafeteria…this is probably the last time I’ll ride the elevator….” Yet I find that when I least expect it, my old lover comes calling and I am pulled back again even though I am fighting it with all of my will.

Two years. Two of us left to pick up the pieces. When will I be able to say goodbye? How do you break up with a building?

1 comment:

Tree said...

I have felt that same way about projects back in the day. I am very proud of you and I know you have done a great job. Closing a job is the hardest part. So few people can actually close a job.