What Happens When You Fall In Love At The Office

“There is a certain game played in offices all over America. The people are bored, they don’t know what to do, so they play the office-romance game. Most of the time it means nothing but the passing of time. Sometimes they do manage to work off a screw or two on the side. But even then, it is just an offhand past time, like bowling or t.v. or a New Year’s Eve party. You’ve got to understand that it doesn’t mean anything and then you won’t get hurt. Do you understand what I mean?”
-Charles Bukowski, Post Office

I fell in love with you via email. I loved your style of writing, and your ability to make light of all the little disasters going on in our office. You and I were a team, and I liked having you on my side. For a while, I tried to convince myself that having you as my partner in crime, my commiseration comrade, could be enough.

It wasn’t.

The first time we went out, having you across the table from me was unexpectedly overwhelming. I’d grown so accustomed to the profile of your face, of your safe distance one seat to my left. I didn’t have that lag time between emails to think of something cute or witty to say. I couldn’t edit our conversation. Instead, I could barely keep the conversation going. Somehow, you didn’t seem to care.

There’s something both exhilarating and terrifying about sleeping with someone who you already have another kind of relationship with. The irresistible appeal of satisfying your curiosity, paired with the safety of your already established relationship can result in some of the most mind-blowing sex you’ve ever had. That is, of course, if you’re able to ignore that voice in the back of your head, the one that keeps asking, what if this doesn’t work out? Would you survive losing a friend and a lover in one fell swoop? Could you handle facing your co-worker every day if things go south?

What they don’t tell you about the office-romance game is that, when it ends, the worst part isn’t seeing your ex every day. It’s that your office becomes a living, breathing memorial of your time together.

You haven’t worked here in over a year, and yet I still think of you when our company throws those rambunctious parties that you used to hate. I wonder what you’d say if you knew that I now attend, and actually enjoy them. I sit right by our old desks, where you discreetly slipped me the earrings I had left at your place the night before — where we sat close enough to see each other’s reactions to our latest, non-work related email chain. It’s impossible not to think about how we used to meet by the elevators to make it seem like we weren’t slipping out together. I can’t go into that CVS on University Place without remembering our random excursion for your hair gel. For some unfortunate reason, whenever I search my inbox for anything, it brings up your old emails. Occasionally I read through them, and indulge myself in the nostalgia of what used to be our normal.

Recently, I accepted a new job, which involves more writing and less money. Part of me wonders if I would have been so quick to accept the offer had this office not been haunted. The rest of me wonders if I’d still be writing about you had we met someplace else. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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