Good guy, and a principal. Don’t sound like a stalker, Kevin. “Thanks for making it to our review today. It’s good to see you again.”
A city planner. He gave me an hour of his time over the phone, patient with my questions – be cordial but brief. “Hi, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He’s asking a question, I should have let go of his hand already. Is my grip too forced? Is it too light? Let go already! “Yes, we spoke over the phone. Thanks again for your help,” I answer.
Damn, if I’d shaken his hand for half a second longer, would I seem more thankful? Or more creepy? Two introductions down, I thirst for the cup set on the floor a few feet away.
I turn, as much to hide from further stumbling introductions as to reach toward my aromatic arabica crutch. I catch my instructor’s eyes as he walks over to a group mate and myself. Half a turn too late, my fingers twitching as if already warm from the cup, I stand back up.
“Would you two guys mind giving an introduction to the semester’s project? A lot of our guests haven’t had exposure to it yet, so it’d be nice for them to catch up.”
First look to my partner, his eyes mirror my own. Oh, crap. Our instructor turns to the gathered crowd, raises his voice to silence others’, and describes our semester thus far.
Second look, our eyes wider. Wasn’t that our job? What exactly do we say now?
Our instructor waves to us, and we look to each other a third time, no words immediate to either of us. We stumble over description as I had over greetings. This HAS to be sleep deprivation.
I look around, meet the eyes of the jurors I invited. They’re regretting coming. They’re thinking I’m a jabbering idiot. Burning bridges should be more fun than this.
We split up into our groups, jurors engaging whom they were near. My hands hardly kept hold of my notebook. Why is this so difficult?
First conversation. We stumbled over our project, our goals, our big idea, over our progress so far and challenges unmet. Questions asked, answers offered, furtive looks to one another as we wonder why or how we’re still in architecture school.
Second conversation. Hands begin to dry, death grip on my notebook loosens, every third glance cast to an abandoned cup.
Straighten your shoulders. Look professional.
Third conversation, panic forgotten. Fourth, fifth. It’s already five o’clock? Wasn’t it just two? Wrap up, closing words. Poach some food left on the center table. I missed breakfast – wait, lunch?
The architect I invited steps away to answer his phone as we finish. He’s bored, he regrets coming here. He’ll blame me. The other jurors I had known were already an hour gone. I didn’t thank them, I didn’t even finish our talks. I’m rude.
One speech, two. Our studio applauds, stands, and surveys the battlefield. Time to clean. Our instructor speaks, we gather ourselves and walk outside…
One beer. We sit back, smiling, or lean on the table chatting. Our instructor walks in. Okay, calm down. Don’t act like a drunk.