I am at Gatwick airport and have, in the spur of the moment, decided to write a blog post at one of those internet kiosk thingies where you pay something daft like £1 for 10 minutes of internet time. Why, you may well ask yourself, am I doing this when I am just about to hop on a plane for a holiday? Why now? Because I have stuff on my mind and I want to write about it because that will help me sort it out.
I am going away on my own for some space and time to myself in a different country. I have just finished a manic month at work and yesterday was, in fact, my last day in the job. In just over a week I start a new job, the kind of job I have been dreaming about getting for a year now. It is all change and it is all the kind of change I wanted. Its fantastic and I am so excited I can’t properly describe it. I’d have to be in the room with you, jumping up and down and talking nineteen-to-the-dozen for you to get an idea of how I’m feeling. My friends are only too aware of it.
But it just hit me, just 10 minutes ago, that I am also experiencing loss. I knew I would be, just yesterday I left my job of 5 years, left the institution I have been a part of for 11 years and had to say goodbye to all my colleagues. Amazingly, they went to huge effort to make sure that I realised how much they are going to miss me. I still can’t believe all the trouble they went to and all the genuine emotion expressed by everyone about me leaving. It isn’t that I thought I wouldn’t be missed, but I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the response from my colleagues until yesterday afternoon. I had to stand in front of all my colleagues while the Head of School and then the Head of Department said a few words. I love being the centre of attention and I thought this would be easy. I was wrong. A couple of minutes in and I was shaking and I was a bit worried about dropping my cup of tea. My Head of Department had chosen a Swedish poem that he read, along with a translation and the poem was surprisingly and touchingly apt. I will transcribe it to my blog once I am back in England.
After that I had to stand in front of them all opening the table full of leaving gifts they had rustled up for me. It took me a good 20 minutes to open them all and it was lovely, but very emotional for me. They were such thoughtful gifts and I was (almost) rendered speechless. Then we posed for photographs. Oh and we ate cake. Someone ordered a huge chocolate cake from the caterers and we all had a piece. It was fab, really lovely and I still can’t quite believe they would go to that much trouble just to say goodbye.
I went for drinks with some people after work, got home late, packed and fell asleep. I haven’t had time to really think about the fact that I’ve said goodbye and packed that bit of that life up behind me now. I will keep in touch with my colleagues, of course, but I am no longer Louise the Programme Co-ordinator at the University of Sussex. It has been my identity for so long that I don’t quite know what to do with myself. I have no doubt the new job will soon cure that!
So I found myself, 15 minutes ago, have bought a cup of tea and finally sitting down with a moment to think. I wanted to cry. Not because I am unhappy, but because I hate saying goodbye and I felt very, very lonely just for a moment. Then I remembered all the wonderful things that I have in my life. I’m on holiday and the point of it is to distract me and give me something exciting to do as well as giving myself a break. I have worked like a demon the last month and finally stopping and knowing there is no more for me to do on that job is very strange.
Anyway, I am going to get on my plane. I normally edit my blog posts more carefully than this, but this will have to do. Bye!