I look up from my desk, and it’s Carl. I notice that Kelly disappears from view. It is disconcerting. Is there a causal relationship? I don’t have time to dwell on it.
“Carl,” I stand, going around my desk to hug him, “it’s good to see you.”
He pats me on my back, in a half-hug, half-good buddy gesture. The whole thing is confusing for both of us. I feel good about recruiting him. I feel better that the Board approved our hiring him.
While Carl negotiates a few more dollars out of the school, I run on auto-pilot. My words run freely, but my thoughts are skipping along in a different direction entirely.
What will it mean to me personally to have Carl on campus? First and foremost, I will have an ally. The thing about being at the top of the heap, there are always nay-sayers who are eager and willing to knock you down. He will play in my court.
Second, Carl is extremely talented. If we didn’t have a major construction project pending, he would be over-qualified for the job. I want this to work out. I need this to work out.
I have spent the five years since my father’s death proving myself to the Board. While I have several heavy-hitters who will stand by me, their legions of staff and vaults of money are hardly mine for the asking. Mostly I have had to prove myself every step of the way. My relationship as the great-great grand-daughter of the school’s founder has little bearing on the Board’s agreeing to enhance the turf on the football field or fund the purchase of a collection of paintings showing 19th century life in Whately. When I lobbied hard to dismiss a teacher suspected of inappropriate behavior with an eighteen-year old post-graduate, It might have been next to impossible to move forward if not for the support of the younger board members. The old-timers, who comprise over half of the Board, were reluctant to “make waves.” My first major victory was when we let go the suspected teacher.
Meanwhile, here stands Carl.
His voice sends a trill down my spine. What have I gotten into? More accurately, what have I reopened?
“Hi, Julia. I’ll be pleased to be working with you. It’s good to be back. Whately has always felt like home.” His eyes move from me to the view of the Common outside my open window. A volunteer tour guide is leading a visiting family around the campus. We can hear her sing-song voice reciting facts, “and now, I’d like to turn your attention to the Tiltman Library. The building, built in 1922, houses over 8750 books. It has been given a recent grant to enhance its collection of DVDs and CDs, bringing film and music to boarders.... The small group walked out of range.
“Have you any other questions, Carl?”
“I don’t at the moment. They will probably occur to me later.”
“I have a meeting in a while, but will be free at lunch. We can meet in the Dining Commons -- I’ll be the one at the Head’s table.”
In my mind, I sound as awkward as a fifteen-year old girl.
“I’ll bring the wine,” Carl says.
He turns and leaves. I watch his back as he goes out the door. He sounds as awkward a a fifteen-year old boy.