Saturday, December 12, 2009


I tucked the pink envelope bearing my name into my bag on Tuesday. I sighed upon seeing it, hurrying worriedly from the labs to my office to gather my things before the snow storm grew windy enough to trap me at the office, and it followed my laptop and phone into the bag I threw over my shoulder as I moved briskly from the building to scrape snow and ice off the Jeep.

I drove home, thinking more about the people who'd made me stay long after darkness fell and the storm worsened and continuing to direct my focus between slow turns and steady stops. When I made it home, I tugged my laptop out and frowned at the card before leaving it sealed in an envelope and resting at the bottom of my bag.

There it has stayed for the duration of the week, catching my attention upon arrival and departure to home and work. I'm beginning, quite honestly, to wonder if it will eventually disintegrate in there, so loathe am I to open it and read the message. Nor, however, can I bring myself to actually throw it away. I apparently respond to my abandonment issues by avoidance.

It isn't that I was overly sorry to see her go, honestly. She had moved on mentally before it was time to physically go, but that's natural and understandable - using the remainder of one's time to carry out goals that were a bit more selfish than they otherwise would have been. It was a bit of a drain on the group but we loved her - personally and professionally - so it was easily tolerated.

I felt myself drift easily into my "you're leaving" routine. I was easily irritated at inconsequential events. I withdrew and refused a majority of the invitations, wondering how many farewell parties with the same attendance list that one person required. I was busy on her last day, flitting from one meeting to the next before going to meet with customers when I saw her blinking back tears and lifting her final box of belongings.

"Time to go?" I asked gently and she nodded before hanging her head. I tucked my arm threw hers and we walked - far more slowly the normal - down the familiar hallways and toward the lobby. "Are you OK?" I offered when she didn't speak, already missing the way she spoke and passion she brought to her work. She shook her head and I nodded in reply.

"Leaving is hard," I commiserated. "But this part will be over soon and you'll have your new life to enjoy. So focus on the happy." She nodded and after I gave her hugs and kisses, she followed me to the labs when I glanced quizzically over my shoulder.

"I don't want to go," she whispered, looking around at the expensive equipment in rooms that had gone dark for the evening. I was looking at her, wondering what comfort to offer, when the group that awaited me in one lab called demandingly from the door. I turned to answer a question and respond charmingly to introductions and when I turned back, she was gone.

I'm a pretty bad friend for the same reason that I rather forgot she was gone after that moment of sadness. I get engrossed in what I'm doing. I enjoy my own company and guard my time very carefully. I don't like speaking on the phone and am pretty much maxed out after I finish with all the teleconferences work demands. So it took me a moment to make sense of the pink envelope when I returned to my office several hours after she'd gone.

Adam and I talked a couple of days later, lounging in his office and giggling over private jokes. I told him I hadn't been able to deal with her leaving and he - not uncommonly - looked at me with some confusion. "I don't like change," I confessed. "And I love this job and this place - I'm settled. I'm staying. And I guess I'm realizing that it means most of you are going to leave me here."

"At first opportunity," he teased and I smiled weakly before continuing to look worried and upset. As I watched a becoming-familiar expression of vague concern shift into his expression (he frets since finding out I'm being medicated for depression - better than some outcomes but hardly ideal), I wondered if this was because I remain single. Because I rely so heavily on a 'love the ones you're with' philosophy on friends? Because I have no plan to increase my sphere of acquaintances?

"I'm fine," I said, standing to leave.

"You say that a lot," he replied, leaving me to nod and smile sheepishly as I made my escape.

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