The guy from the mailroom plopped down a huge thumping package on my desk. THUD! I looked at it. Brown paper, white sticker, my name emblazoned in thick black capital letters. I get one of these packages once a month, usually 10 days after we’ve closed an issue. First bound copies, fresh from the printer. But this package was huge. I mean, it was huge. “I got them,” I yelled to one of the other editors.
“The Anniversary Issue?”
“Haven’t opened it yet. Come on in.” He did, and stared at the mondo brick sitting on my desk.
“Jesus,” he said. “It’s huge.”
“Mmm Hmm.” I unwrapped it, peeled off the paper, the 5 ripe issues plopping awkwardly onto my desk. He wheeled a chair in from around the corner and we both sat, feet up on my desk, and began flipping through the biblically sized issue. We’d make odd hmmm noises, but on the whole we were quiet for about 15 minutes. Turning pages, flipping through, reading, getting the layout of the thing. Did it make sense? Did it flow? Was the layout captured the way we thought or want it to be? Were there glaring mistakes? Obvious fuckups? What did we make of this editorial behemoth? I finished and put mine down on the desk. The Anniversary Issue. 3 to 4 months of my life, all told. Huge. “What do you think?” he asked, voice vague and insecure, like a kid asking a question he knows is a no.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what I think. I can’t tell.”
“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah. I know. Me neither.” Ten minutes later we popped our heads into another editor’s office. “You guys look through this?” he asked, the thing bending at fierce angles like a phone book as he picked it off his desk. I know I’m making it sound like an issue of Vogue or Vanity Fair, which it’s not, but it’s the biggest issue we’ve ever done, and it probably has more editorial pages than either of those rags has ever put out. Probably. “Yeah, we saw it.” I said.
“We don’t know.”
“I don’t either. What the fuck?”
“I couldn’t tell you. Maybe we have to live with it a bit more.”
“Maybe we lived with it for too long. I think we’re just too close to it, like other’s opinions will have to suffice this time. We can’t see the portrait because we’re too locked into all the strokes.” I’m wondering if parents feel this way. At the hospital, after the child has made it’s way through the birth canal, do you think the father and mother, independently of each other, stare at this thing that’s held court in a belly for the past 9 months, this thing that everyone has told them they will love from the moment they see it, do you think they each look at it, look at each other, one big huge uncomprehending blank and think, “Fuck. What is that thing that I made?” before snapping to, falling in love. There’s been a distinct hangover effect at work. We’ve all felt it, and perhaps that’s all this is. Well see how we all feel tomorrow. For now, I’m just sitting here feeling a little cheated. I wanted it to arrive, to unwrap it, to throw my arms around it and dance through the hallways, high five each other, cry with joy. Instead it all just felt oddly heavy.