I just listened to a new colleague tell a story about a conversation she had had last night with someone who lives, I was told, right next to the house I own on Cape Cod. In the course of their conversation my colleague had heard all about being invited over for drinks at my house. “And what a wonderful house it was!” She seemed happy to pass that compliment on to me.
I have no problem accepting compliments except that I do not own a house on the Cape.
I knew almost immediately the person I had been mistaken for – another colleague, complete with grey beard.
It had been hard to find a moment early in the narration of the conversation at which I could have interrupted. Instead I got to enjoy the look of slight envy that my new colleague leveled at me at the close of her story.
I briefly imagined what it would feel like to be complimented on a beautiful house on the Cape. I remembered what it had felt like to accept compliments on a 1920 Arts and Crafts home I had co-owned until six years ago.
Since I am no longer a homeowner of any stripe and since the prospect of ever being one again appears distant and unrealistic, I felt funny just now being mistaken for one. I have moved somewhere in my life, I understood afresh.
I mix with people on a daily basis who cannot imagine that move or the circumstances that would bring it about.
The truth is that I meet more and more people who can and do.
Like mine, their status can remain long undetected. A door has, nonetheless, opened for them and for me. Just beyond it is a walkway into a future around which there are fewer guarantees but a certain kind of ease.
You do not know you want it until it appears.