Independence Day

The holiday weekend takes on a special meaning for me this year because yesterday was my last day at my full-time job.  I woke up this morning with a bit more independence than I’ve had at previous 8 AMs.  Well… I suppose I’ve always had the same amount of independence; meaning, I could have quit my job any time.  But I didn’t, until sometime in mid-May, with the goal of becoming a full-time writer and editor.  I gave a long notice at my job so we could all adjust to the strangeness, but the result was that even after I’d given my notice, it never seemed real that I was leaving.  Still a month away, weeks away, and then days away.  Even this morning, I half expected to be receiving work emails and phone calls– improbably, 100 minor things which were my responsibility 24 hours ago are no longer.

Leaving a job is complicated, and I don’t just mean having the awkward conversation(s). I spent this week trying to clean and organize my cubicle, so that it won’t disgust or offend the next person who has to sit there. I cleaned out my files, both paper and digital, first conservatively and then hitting “delete” or reaching for the recycle bin like it was (ha) my job.  I had to write up all sorts of notes (which may become my first novel) on “how to do my job” for the person they hire.  Writing up how I do my work routine caused me to doubt if I was any good at it– suddenly my methods seemed convoluted, or wasteful, and I found myself thinking that surely the next person will do it better and wonder how I ever got by.  Early in the week I thought wrapping up my “loose ends” would take an afternoon, maybe, but yesterday the loose ends seemed un-tameable.  I was at my desk until almost 9 PM, at which point a coworker who was for some other reason still in the office at 9 PM said to me, “Don’t you get how it works? You eat cake, and then you leave.”

Cake had been about 7 hours prior.

I took his advice, hit my final “deletes”, burned my personal files to a CD, and shut down the archaic computer that’s not mine anymore.  I visited the office fridge and reclaimed my uneaten leftovers.  I was halfway out the building door when I realized I hadn’t turned in my keys.  I put down the random personal objects I was balancing (a space heater, a tub of fruit salad, a bag full of papers) and hopped back up the stairs, put the keys in an envelope, and left them on my desk.  When the door shut behind me, I knew I couldn’t get back in.

After consuming my celebratory pizza and wine, I fell asleep instantly but woke up at 3:30 AM from a frantic dream about all the details I might have forgotten.  Did I leave anything weird in my email?  When she or he boots up the computer, will all my favorite websites be stored in the browser?  (Eek- what are they?)  Did I forget to give the new person some piece of crucial advice?  The answer to all of these things is probably yes.  But I woke up again at 8, and had nowhere to go but downstairs, and I did.  There was coffee there, and it was good.

I have a copyediting project on my desk, a magazine assignment in my email, and some leads to pursue.  I have time and space to think and care about all the things squished in the corners of my brain that have been trying to get to the center for a while now.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Independence Day

  1. Gil

    Interesting that you stayed so late… When the first company I worked for moved from its indy-style offices to the corporate offices after the takeover, I was there till 10 or 11PM, the last to leave by a longshot. I can’t remember what I did until that point, or even if I was doing anything work-related. All of my non-laptop stuff was already packed into the orange crates for the moving company to come and deal with, but I had been in that office for over three years and as my first job out of college, I found it very hard to exit the building for the last time.

    • unquiettime

      I meant to mention in the post — the only time I’ve ever been at work so late (actually later) was the last day I worked before my wedding. I think it was Tuesday of that week (wedding was Saturday) and my family was showing up on Thursday and I wanted a day to myself and so I swore I was NOT going back in after that Tuesday. (I was off for a total of about 2 1/2 weeks, I think.) I was there until midnight that night and let me tell you, it was creepy. I think in the end I left because it was too unsettling to be the only person in the building that late at night. I know what you mean, Gil, about walking out the door.

  2. Dad

    life is all about arriving and leaving. From beginning to end: schools, homes, cars (!), jobs (the list can be rather extensive if you work at it). It’s always stressful leaving. But there are always the constants that form the foundation that hold us together and move us forward. Certainly, for me, good coffee is one of them.

  3. Lori Dupre

    Your exit was beautiful Meghan! I look at it as a new ‘re-entering’, through a suitably fine-tuned ‘Meghan’ door. See ya tomorrow!

  4. Ok I can SOOOO Identify with this post as I, roughly a year earlier, had done pretty much the same exact thing. INCLUDING the crazy late night before my wedding! Yikes!! And I remember seeing you and your sister on the night before your wedding…I used to put in a lot of late nights there.

    I suppose the good thing was that they had already hired my replacement so I got to work with her a bunch.

    It was so unsettling to walk out the door and know I’d have to call maintenance to get back in. And it was so exciting to know I was headed to a new state (albeit Alabama) and a new life with my new husband!

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