The front room of my house is called the pawffice. It has a broad desk, a chair, three windows, a guitar, and a varying number of cats, depending on which spot they fancy that day, that hour, that instant. I used to have to share the pawffice. Stephanie and I both started to work from home when we moved to Minnesota in 2015. We’d trade desks and tables and spaces, the other office in our bureau being less cleverly named the bunny room. Which is exactly what it was. I’d wander in to share some unrelated nugget of information like an annoying officemate who keeps stopping by your desk. This wasn’t new. We’d worked together, in the same office, for a little over a year.
It’s easy to imagine some couples struggling with having to spend this much time with each other. You wake up together in the morning, commute together, go to meetings together, discuss deadlines together, roll your eyes together, leave work together. Then over dinner, you have to think of something new to talk about, because you already know the answer to that go-to question: “How was your day?” But I never minded. Stephanie is one of the smartest, hardest working, and most reliable people I’ve ever known. I, on the other hand, am allergic to deadlines, overly sarcastic in my attempts to be funny, and switch between projects constantly. But for me, even when the work was frustrating, it was a joy to be on her team.
So working from home was much the same as before, just with the ability to wear pajamas most of the day or skip out for an hour in the morning to do yoga. Even after we were laid off from our previous employer, we continued to work together—in the same space, that is—on various freelance projects. Then last spring, Stephanie got a new full-time job that she greatly deserved. One thing became clear over the months I’ve worked from home on my thesis, lesson plans, and magazine article, with just the cats as coworkers: I have been spoiled. Spending that much time with one’s best friend is not a luxury most people get.
On Monday, 13 inches of snow dumped on Mankato. It started in the early morning and continued through the evening, piling higher and higher. Stephanie went to the office for a few hours, but then I picked her up when it started to get bad. For half a day, we shared a workspace again, and because she doesn’t often get the luxury to work from home, she claimed the pawffice with its wide (and for once, relatively clean) desk and view of the street. It was nice. Like old times, I walked out to make some observation, but before returning to my workspace, stopped as we watched the snow come down together.