I spent much of the day going through papers, throwing away effluvia from my desk drawer, finding a home for a half-dozen boxes of tea, talking to some co-workers I probably won't see again and others who have become dear and treasured friends. I walked around with an unfortunately-colored sheet of pink paper, obtaining signatures verifying that I had no outstanding materials from our library, that I had no outstanding travel advances for which to account, and noting my telephone extension and voice mail password, so any messages that come in can be retrieved after I'm no longer there. I took home my pictures weeks ago; my New Yorkistan poster and some framed antique sheet music, but I still had my pantry of boxes of matzos, small cans of tuna fish, and individual applesauce cups. By the end of the day, I reached my goal of having nothing left to take home tomorrow except my desk fan, which as a function of having reached A Certain Age, is rendered necessary at a moment's notice.
I'm surprisingly not sad or depressed, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps when I wake up Tuesday morning and realize that there isn't anyplace I have to be, it will hit me. Perhaps I'll navigate this particular adventure with the kind of pluck and optimism that's completely alien to my personality. After all, the reason I had my resume ready and was ready to start a job search the minute the layoff announcement was made was because I've been anticipating this particular shoe dropping ever since our last layoff in 2005. Three years is a long time to worry that another layoff could occur at any time. So there's a certain relief in having had that shoe drop. You could ask why I hadn't started looking for a job then. But one doesn't give up a job that's twenty minutes from home, where you don't have to put in 80-hour weeks, where the health insurance is fantastic, the paid time off is generous, the retirement benefits are even more generous, and the work is interesting just because one had a tendency to worry.
So tomorrow I get my pink sheet signed by the Help Desk guys, who will then disable my network account. I'll go to the front desk and turn in my ID badge, and then go out the door to whatever awaits.
I watched Al Gore speak tonight with eloquence and calm urgency, clearly more relaxed and comfortable in his own skin than he was eight years ago:
He now fills the shoes of elder statesman, a president Manqué
who understands full well the journey of disappointment that Bill and Hillary Clinton had to navigate to get to last night. It's difficult to imagine Gore's frustration during the early years of the Bush term, as the train wreck it has been became more evident every day. And yet tonight, introduced as "Nobel Prize Winner", it's clear that Al Gore has long since gotten past how he was robbed of the presidency by butterfly ballots, a government apparatus in Florida that was rigged for his opponent, and a partisan Supreme Court bound and determined to put George W. Bush in the White House. He is now more than an elder statesman, he is the world's primary voice for environmental concern and climate change. He is clearly adored by this crowd, and the man I saw speak tonight is one at peace with the direction his life has taken, evern though it's a different one than he wanted, different from what he sought, different from what he expected.
Al Gore now knows that when one door closes, another one opens. There's always the chance that on the other side of that door is a 1500-foot sheer drop onto pointy-tipped rocks. But sometimes the other side of that door reveals opportunities we couldn't have possibly imagined.
I am in the early stages of the employment search, with a few possibilities that may yet bear fruit. On Tuesday, I start being able to devote myself full-time to finding my next opportunity. On Tuesday, the Obama-Biden ticket begins the fall campaign. ON Tuesday, the Republicans gather in St. Paul just as a storm named Gustav hits the Gulf Coast. On Tuesday, children go back to school, and the kind of peculiar new beginning that also coincides with the end of summer and the preparation for gray winter, kicks into gear.
On Tuesday, many of us turn a page to something new. And as Al Gore knows, sometimes that something new is just as good or better than that for which you'd planned.
Labels: Al Gore, personal musings