Welp, yesterday was my last day. Twelve years. I had a nice day, but basically anything is anti-climactic after twelve years. Someone brought in donuts, I had coffee with my old boss, and a bunch of us went to lunch together. It was very nice, and a bunch of us had a cookout in the park on Tuesday and played badminton for my “going away.” But the tricky thing is, after twelve years of moving around from brand to brand, I’ve accumulated lots of friends that I don’t currently work with, but are a part of my life there nonetheless – I run into them getting coffee, I’m friends with them on Facebook, etc. It’s just that the people I currently work with don’t know thhat. So while we had a great time at the party, I felt like I didn’t really get the full going away treatment.
I was totally fine all day, up until I said goodbye to my boss. The funny thing is, she’s probably the one person I won’t particularly miss, but something about her giving me a hug, knowing that she’s not someone who hugs or has any personal attachments to anyone, made me cry. Then of course that was the end of my composure – I cried on and off for the next hour while I finished saying my goodbyes and made one last trip out to my car with the plant from my desk.
I got home from work and told Greg about my day, and I said, “The only thing is that they didn’t give me a card. A few people gave me individual cards which was great, but there wasn’t a big card that everybody signed. Like, when Rachel left, she was just going to a different brand and they gave her this little journal that we all signed. But I didn’t even get a card. So that was a bummer.” Two minutes later I looked at my email and saw one come through from my coworker that said, “There’s a surprise in your purse!” When I opened my purse, there was journal (a Ryan Gosling journal, no less) that everyone had written entries in. Greg and I laughed for a good five minutes, and I sat there for a half hour reading all the entries, laughing through my tears at everyone’s lovely notes. Then Greg made fun of me some more. It was really something.
There’s a lot of levels of leaving a place after so long. It’s a big change, obviously, and that place is responsible for about 96% of my social life in the past decade. There’s also a lot of cache associated with saying you work for a company like that. But there’s another piece to it, which is that it was my first job out of college. I started that job admidst a whirlwind of life change. I moved away from home into my own apartment in a city I barely knew anything about. I had another very serious boyfriend when I started there. I walked to work every day through this brand new city, looking around in wonderment at everything, unable to believe this was really all happening. Walking through those doors was part of my first real experience of being a grown up. And yet, I was also this young kid. I can remember the way that Kate dressed, and what she listened to, and the way she decorated her apartment, and the people she hung out with, and when she first met Greg. And as long as I had this job, I felt like in some small way that young Kate and this old Kate were still tied together. There were still a few people around who remembered that Kate, and who went to happy hour with her and sat next to her and laughed with her. So ultimately I feel like leaving means I’ve lost a bit of a connection with her.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very excited for my new job, and ultimately I know I made the right decision. Although this place on a lot of levels has been like a magical wonderland, the job itself and the downsides to it were wearing on me. So when I tell people that I’m sad, they’re very quick to tell me that my new job will be great. But for now I really just wanted to focus on the present, and allow myself to grieve the loss of this part of my life. People don’t let themselves be sad enough. It’s not going to kill me to shed a few tears over this, and it doesn’t mean I’m not happy for my future. But life is full of these decisions where you have to close one door in order to open another, and it’s not supposed to be 100% pain free. It’s life – you have to feel pain to feel happiness.