This past week I flew to Chicago to meet with some new clients in person. It had been 2 years, and it was amazing. Plus I got to meet my team in person for the first time. We had dinners out, drinks, conversations in taxi cabs.
Then later in the week, my boss from Brazil was finally able to come to the US. So me and the rest of my creative director team met him for a day of working and a happy hour.
It was all pretty exciting, but there was an unexpected part to all of it. It was a series of “get to know you” conversations, which meant I ended up telling the dumb Alex tumor story a bunch of times.
I’ve got the narrative down pretty well at this point and the tone is just right. I keep it quick. I can switch out certain parts if I want more sympathy or if I want to keep things light. But the tough part is when I have to stick the landing. That’s tricky. The conversation is over; we’ve exhausted the subject. But you have to conclude and move on. And really, the options are:
- “He’s on a lower dose of chemo and seems to be managing it much better, so things are looking up.”
- “He’s such a resilient kid, it’s amazing to watch. Kids are remarkable.”
- “There’s definitely good news, though. His tumor shrunk 49% and hopefully in 6 months he’s done with the meds.”
But the reality is different. It doesn’t have a neat wrap up. Not yet, I guess.
- “So right now I’m in a state of bitterness with a hint of despair. I’ve been finding myself wondering if God really exists and then considering that if he does exist, should I be mad at him?”
- “It’s like a giant soap bubble is distorting our whole house, but we kinda go on about our day with a bit of an emotional limp.”
- I’ve moved beyond the ‘it could be worse’ thing and now I’m just kinda low-simmer pissed off all the time.”
But those don’t make good conversation enders — especially for clients. They leave people unsettled and wondering if you’re up for doing your job (which I totally am). You’re a source of distraction and discomfort, not this interesting, smart creative director that is leading the team with a remarkable depth of emotion you’re sure he’ll bring to the work.
Alex is doing pretty well. Genuinely. He’s exercising and putting on weight. His grades are insane. He has great fun with his friends. He’s probably running for student council soon.
The whole baseline for life has shifted down quite a bit, but…well…no. I’ve got no wrap up.