A 'Beautiful' Week
by Akilah Jefferson
Construction on the playground across the street from my apartment started in late winter, about the same time as my OBOS internship. Every morning at about 7 a.m., I hear construction workers and their trucks infiltrate my neighborhood. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays I know I can stay in bed for a while before going to OBOS, so I cover my head with my pillow and try to go back to sleep.
This morning, after an extra hour of dozing, I hear James Blunt singing, “You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful, it’s true…” I was never a fan of regular alarm clocks, so when I figured out how to download songs onto my phone and use them as my alarm I was thrilled. Every couple of weeks I change to a different song; maybe Prince’s “Black Sweat” so I can dance out of bed or India Arie’s “I am Not My Hair” to feel empowered while I dress. This week is a “beautiful” week. I turn James off, roll out of my bed, shower, dress, and head to my car.
The drive to OBOS from my apartment in Cambridge takes only about 15 minutes but I always spend at least another 25 circling from Albany Street to Plympton Street to Harrison Street and back looking for a coveted free two-hour parking spot or, if I am really lucky, a four-hour parking spot. If I am prepared, which usually isn’t the case, I have a couple of quarters ready for the metered parking.
Once I find a place for the car, I walk to 34 Plympton Street. I am always greeted warmly there. On the way to my desk in the back, I exchange hellos: “Hi Judy, hi Sarah, hi Ayesha, hi Sally, hi Elana, hi Heather.” I hang up my coat, turn on the computer, and get to work.
Each day with OBOS is something new. One day I could be working on a safer sex workshop and the next I could be transcribing first-person pregnancy and childbirth stories. Whatever my task, it is always interesting and teaches me something. I learn about the history of OBOS when I organize publicity files, become more interested in women’s sexuality when I create workshops, share information about childbirth and pregnancy with my pregnant sister when I transcribe stories, and pay closer attention to health news when I create online discussion groups.
At about noon I call to order my lunch from the Little Window. “Hi, I’d like to order a number 15.” “Akilah, right?” “Yep.” “Okay, it’ll be about 10 minutes.” Most days I order lunch, go outside to move my car, and pick up my food. After lunch I get back to work listening to intimate pregnancy stories, looking up ways to overcome decreased libido after menopause, calling college health centers to suggest they stock our book, reading about how to spice up your sex life and be safe at the same time, or adding friends to our discussion groups on My Space and Friendster. The day passes quickly, and before I know it 5 p.m. has already come. I gather my things, turn off the computer, and put on my coat. “Bye Heather, bye Elana, bye Sally, bye Ayesha, bye Sarah, bye Judy, see you tomorrow.” I hop in my car, drive back to Cambridge, and see what new piece has been added to the playground, all the while thinking about what new thing I learned at OBOS today.