The driveway to the project site in Lake Stevens curves gently around in a circle through an expanse of green grass and vibrant fall trees. There's a 'duck crossing' sign midway down, showing a small family of duck silhouettes walking in single file, although I've never seen a duck there yet. There's a cougar on the site, somewhere, or so they tell us, amid laughing notes to not go outside at night with a steak in hand. There is a trail that weaves its way behind the buildings through the forest and along the road that offers a scenic walk to relax the mind. It's a lovely place outside, even though I only caught glimpses here and there throughout this week.
It was a dark week - and by that I mean that I would drive to the site before the sun rose, and drive back to my hotel after it had set. It rained on and off, but then that's the type of weather I've learned to expect from the Seattle area. It was cloudy and wet and gray - all perfectly suited to what I had expected from this week.
But there is truth to the saying that even clouds have silver linings. Much to my surprise, the groups that were shipped in from all around the world to this warehouse of a building actually took it seriously. After nearly a year of indecision, design is being finalized. Conversations are brief, decisions are made, and we are actually ahead of schedule. So much for my gloomy forecast (shared by significant numbers of the rest of the IT department) that they'd not even get halfway through their task list by the end of the three weeks.
There were other bright spots throughout the week as well. Dinners with coworkers I've worked with for months but never had the chance to know. Laughter around garlic bread, small-town cooking where everything is smothered in cheese, dinner out where I rely on the rest to choose from a menu of food I love, but can never pronounce. And even if it had all gone wrong, I had my visit with my little sister to look forward to Friday night.
It was storming Friday afternoon as I left the building, the sky angry and clouded. But halfway down 405 the sun broke free. The week was over, the project is still running, and we're not as doomed as I had begun to believe we might be.
Despite the smooth beginning to this design session, my optimism is cautious at best. But people have a tendency to surprise you when you least expect it. It's a start.