I was walking through one of the study areas at work yesterday, and I passed by one of my student tutors. She was sitting at a computer desk, her homework spread out around her. The non-work items on the desk were few since it was a public space, but she had a brightly colored box of tissues next to her. The box sported pictures of cartoony-looking fish from Finding Dory, giving me the impression it was not the nondescript pattern typically associated with institutional tissue boxes. Because we are (hopefully) emerging from the thick of cold and flu season, I pointed to the box. “Are you bringing your own tissues to work with you now?”
She looked up at me from behind the large the desk where she sat. “Yeah. It’s that point in the semester.” She blinked sad eyes for effect. “I brought them in case I need to cry.” Her face was more serious than usual.
I stopped abruptly. “Oh!” I studied her face. “Are you all right?”
She smiled. “They’re not really mine.”
“Okay,” I released a relieved sigh. “That sounded just like something my daughter would say,” I added.
“Yeah. It’s a girl thing,” she shrugged. But then she considered what she had said. “No, maybe not. I think it’s an age thing.”
I studied her face for a moment. In it, I could see hints of my daughter, of several of the students I work with, of so many people I know, young and old. “Maybe,” I pretended to accept this explanation as I turned to walk away, but I was certain it wasn’t an “age thing.”
What I really wanted to say was, “I think it’s a life thing!” But some things are better left unsaid.