Monday, 3 March 2008

Exits, followed by bear

It was my last day at work on Friday. It was alright.

In some ways it was like many other days, much like spinning plates. Desperately running around trying to make sure things are finished in time, knowing that there isn't enough time and something is bound to be missed. But there were also some small closures, a couple of jobs well done, and some really sweet goodbyes from some of the ladies and gentlemen that have become a large feature of my job, even if some of them still can't get my name right.

I was still frantically typing my 'out of office' message when staff members started shuffling in for leaving drinks. It was nice that people showed up, and were interested in what I am doing. All friendly faces that have been a real presence in my life over the past years. I went through the 'Ecuador', 'Six months', 'Conservation work', 'Well, a lot of digging, I imagine', 'No, I haven't had time to get excited yet', and 'Oh, I'm sure it will fly by' spiel about a dozen times, and could feel myself getting less and less demonstrative each time. It had been such a physically and mentally exhausting week that I was just so tired of performing, tired of saying goodbye.

Nevertheless, I had wanted to say goodbye, and many kind and encouraging words were spoken. I was given some fantasically useful presents, as well - sleeping bag and socks, head torch and kendal mint cake, and a bite extracting device. I had been mulling over what I might say if called to speak at this point, and I think that it is fortunate that I had a moment of uncharacteristic coyness. My thoughts of that building, that company, and the people are so varied and loaded with meaning that I could have overflowed with grief, or bitterness, or gratitude depending on the direction of the wind.

By five the crowd had died down, ready to move on to someone else's leaving drinks. I was already tipsy, having worked during lunch, and was relieved to have the attention shift away. Then there were more drinks downstairs, and then four of us went on to a bar opening, and later there was some crazy dancing to northern soul music - flinging ourselves around with abandon and twirling 'till we couldn't see straight. What joy!

In the morning I discovered that I had ruined my lovely (relatively) new shoes. I loved those shoes - they were beautiful and stylish and fit me like we belonged together. I will be sorry to see them go, but sometimes one just has to let go of the steps and dance like a wild thing.

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