When I was a little girl, departures made me so sad that I used to hide to avoid saying goodbye to guests.
I don’t hole up in the closet any more, nor cry (much), but still poignancy floods my chest whenever anything ends. On Friday, it was my job with Statistics Canada for the census.
Five or six days a week for three and a half months, I packed a lunch, put on grown-up clothes (no sweatpants, not even once!) and went to the office where I worked with, at peak season, more than 30 others.
It was a temporary job – we all knew that going in – and I suppose that made it easier at the end. Also, we’ve been bidding adieu to colleagues for weeks as the work tapered off and a mom went back to her kids; a student headed for Europe before term starts; someone else landed a more permanent gig…
Then a few of us were asked to stay for another five days. At the end of that, we were offered more work with the clear understanding that it was strictly one shift at a time, and that turned into another pay period. When it became obvious that the possibility of on-call four-hour stints was going to turn into another full week with some bonus hours tacked on, I wrote, “Welcome to the Hotel California” on the white board by the door.
Most of my coworkers were a generation too young to get the reference, but it made two of us laugh, so it was worth it.
And then on Friday evening there were just half a dozen of us entering the final data for Vancouver Island, packing up the last few thousand questionnaires, and sweeping the stray elastic bands and paper clips into boxes. Six of us logged off the computers for good and walked out of the building into brilliant evening sunlight that offered no cover, nowhere to hide.
I had to suck it up and say goodbye like an adult.
I’m going to miss my daily rides and walks to the heart of the old town. I will miss all the gardens I walked through on my lunch breaks. I’ll miss the colours of swarming tourists and hanging flower baskets.
I meant it when I told my colleagues that I’d love to hear from them any time; I meant it when I wished them all the best.
And I mean it: I will miss them.