11 August 2017

Crying in the Bread Aisle

The other day I was in the grocery store that I hate because I don't make good choices sometimes.  I was in a pissy mood because it was one of those challenging days where every thing seems a struggle.

I'm going down the aisles, with my headphones in to squelch my annoyance.  I caught someone's eye and said hello.  I knew that I knew them but it took me a beat to remember who they were.

It was a parent from the school.  Wait, back up.  I've been gone from the school for TWELVE YEARS.  Twelve.  I can't believe that it's been that long because it still feels like it was just a little while ago.  So, this is context and I just needed to say TWELVE YEARS.

She turned around and stopped me.  "You know I just have to tell you..."  Ugh, these conversations can go either way.  While I enjoyed this parent, she had her challenges so buckle up.

"Daughter is still best friends with Friend, after all these years.  Since they were toddlers!"   It was nice to hear that a relationship that was founded in preschool was still going strong.  That seems rare.

She continues on to tell me that she's graduating from University soon and going for her masters.  This isn't a surprise to me because even as a child, we knew this one was going places.  You just knew it.

Finally, she said (I'm paraphrasing)  "I just couldn't have done it without you and the school.  Daughter wouldn't have had the opportunities she had if not for the school.  I just need you to know how much I appreciate all that you did for me and Daughter."

So, now I'm almost crying in the bread aisle.

When a person works in social services or non-profit, you subliminally know that you're making a difference.  On exceptional days, you may see it occur in front of you.  But it's often a Karma thing, it may or may not happen and you probably won't know how everything turns out.

This mama gave me confirmation that work I did twelve years ago made a difference.  This is worth its weight in gold  to me.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do...Part Two

TFW you forget to click publish...

Today turned out to be my last day at the job I didn't want.  My official last day was supposed to be Friday.  I'm feeling a little disconnected.  I mean, I knew I wasn't staying but now I'm in limbo waiting for the new job to begin and yet a little bit missing the job I didn't want.

My replacement started on Monday and by the end of Monday I had trained her on the three things she needed to know that I could teach her.  In parallel to my experience, she didn't have all the tools she needs to do the job yet.  So, essentially we were both being paid to just sit there.

On Tuesday I made sure that she didn't have any questions, made sure she knew superficially who everyone was and what they did, and walked her through what a normal day may look like.  Then I hung out with the guys during the other three hours of the day.  So not exaggerating.

When I was driving to work on Wednesday, I was reviewing in my head what needed to happen during the day.  I came up with nothing.  I mean, I've been doing close to nothing for the past ninety days so it was naive to think it would be any different now.  There was virtually nothing for me to do but to sit and watch the new girl answer the phone.

This is where I say that the new girls is low on personality.  If she were fun to hang out with, I probably would have stayed.  Instead, it was just awkward silences.  Way to make this weird job even more weird.

I spoke with the guy I worked with one-on-one and he said it was up to me when I wanted to leave.  But I needed to talk to the boss also.  I waited until saw him about fifteen minutes later and described the situation.  He grinned and said "Well then, get the hell out" and laughed.

There are two schools of thought here:  I could have totally "worked" yesterday and today and gotten paid.  But I had no workspace (again)  and it just didn't seem like the ethical thing to do.  Or, I could do what I did and follow my instincts.  It felt like it was time to be done.

Until I had to say my goodbyes. I was surprised that I had become attached to these folks in the few short days I was there.

I did the most difficult first, my East Indian Canadian friend.  He yelled at me for not just sticking around then invited me to lunch the next day.  We're facebook friends and we've promised to keep in touch. We all say these things but I really hope that we do.

Next was hipster guy and he made me teary.  He was in someone else's office (guy I don't know well) and asked "Is it okay if I hug you?".  And of course he's the best hugger, the kind you feel in your soul.  I will miss working with him every day.  He is the best friend in the rom-com who eventually gets the girl kind of nice.

Then a few deep breaths later, it was easier after that.  I didn't get to say goodbye to socially awkward guy before he left to do a job so I just left a post-it with a smiley face on his monitor.  I awkwardly shook hands/fist bumped with guy I worked with, the shop guy hugged me, then I was off.  They invited me to stop by someday but we all know that's not going to happen.

Driving home was a little rough because it occurred to me that it's my last day in that town.  Sure, I will be up there from time to time but not almost every day like I have for the last nearly thirty years.  Not only was I sad about leaving my new friends but sad about leaving town.

Now onto my next adventure!

03 August 2017

After 30 Years

There's a scene in the movie Grosse Point Blank where Martin Blank's secretary is encouraging him to attend his high school reunion. She describes it as "It's as if everyone has swelled."   At the time, I didn't quite get the reference.  Now, I've just attended my 30-year reunion and I'm here to say that it's an apt description.

The interesting thing is that a person could easily figure out who the girls were, without nametags.  Girls don't seem to change a lot as they age, just get a little softer, if you will.  But the boys.  Holy Crackers, thank sweet baby jesus for name tags.  Twice we played the "Who the hell is that guy?" game and had to rely on the nametag.

I arrived early to help my friend and there were about six girls there.  Within moments, everyone is talking about how they just went to their stylist or colored their hair that night. Then it slowly morphed into which boy still had their hair and how many of us are having 50th birthdays soon. Which then segued into the "How did we get this old?" conversation.

Our high school class suffered a few losses right after high school so we're weirdly clingy.  Most everyone is friends on facebook and the reunion planning often starts at the current reunion.  This year it was discussed to do five-year increments instead of ten because "we're going to start dropping off any day now."  (dude. seriously.)   Then we talked about doing facebook events as impromptu get-togethers.

What I really enjoyed about this event was that everyone wasn't divided into cliques.  Sure, there were groups of people but everyone was open and gracious.  A person hears stories about reunions or has preconceived notions that nothing has changed but in this case, everyone were just simply friends.  No drama but the normal cast of characters that one would expect. Someone drank too much, someone was a little inappropriate, but nothing melodramatic.

One of the most popular girls in school still is and that being said, really is very nice.  She worked so hard to include everyone this weekend, take lots of photos, and personally talk to everyone. It was impressive to someone like me who finds that kind of thing daunting.  She greeted me with "you look exactly the same" (adorable) and I said the same because she actually does.  She laughed and said "Oh  honey, it's all botox."  I just loved the realness of that statement.

Only one other of the core group of my high school friends attended so we  were each others dates on both nights.  On Saturday, we drifted around until finally we plunked down toward the back of the room and circled our chairs to talk.  People came around off and on until there was about seven of us gathered.   The dance floor slowly filled up, mostly girls just like in high school, and we watched the show from our chairs.  Eventually I had the realization that for me, nothing had changed.  I am still sitting in the back of the class, hanging out and talking with my friends. The fact that this was immortalized on Facebook the next day pleases the high school me.

The other best part of this experience was to see photos the next day.  There was a class photo taken on Friday and Saturday night so that everyone was included.  Then the candids were fun to see.  The funny part of being together in 2017 versus 1987 was people getting facebook notifications and friend requests during the party.  There were selfies and texts sent to friends who couldn't make it. Smart phones allowed everyone to be there, even if they weren't.

So, my recommendation is to go to your reunion.  Even if you think it will be weird, because it will, and a little awkward too. Use the buddy system so you're not alone.  I believe the pay off is that you will see people who you've totally forgotten about in the now but were so important to you back then.  You will see that you did exist in others lives and were important to them. You may even make friends with someone you'd never consider back in the day.