How do I feel? Weird. It’s surreal how time passes when you’re in a conference room for that many hours in a row. I’m tired. I feel physically icky due to poor diet and irregular mealtimes. I’m on edge with the febrile energy of the mentally overstimulated and physically sedentary. My hair is too long (I’m practically Rapunzel by now) and I’m sick of wearing the two outfits I brought. I regret missing the play tonight.
But mostly I feel lonely. I spend day and night in a conference room full of people, but, aside from my colleagues, they’re people I don’t know and with whom I have no relationship beyond this deal. As for my two colleagues, our relationship is still very professional — we’re here to work, not play or socialize, and though some socializing occurs in the margins, it’s not much or particularly meaningful. So I surface from time to time and see that the days have rolled by without me — past Christmas parties and dance classes and church meetings and dinner groups with friends at restaurants where I want to eat and Sunday afternoons when I normally would call family and friends — past all those things that make me feel connected and appreciated and not irrelevant or invisible.
Things could be worse (I could have black lung disease, for example, or a wonky eye, or be stuck in Lafayette, Indiana, instead of New York) and I’m grateful that they’re not. I also appreciate this chance to see inside a crazy and chaotic negotiation and work with, and learn from, two very smart and skilled colleagues. But still. The party is over and I want to go home.