“Do we have any cardboard boxes?”
“To bring home my things from work.”
“Just take that purple crate.”
“But… oh, it doesn’t matter.”
“Well… I kinda wanted it to be like the movies. Where I just throw in all of my things in a cardboard box and walk out, as soon as the clock strikes Happy Hour.”
“You’re so dramatic. Take the purple crate.”
I took Gabriel's advice and brought the purple crate to work on Friday, where I packed up my desk (or, my lovely desk mates, Lenise and Alyssa did, as I was scrambling to finish everything on my to do list before our scheduled Happy Hour at 5:00 pm). They carefully unpinned the colorful photos that previously covered the cloth push-pin wall behind my monitor. The photos were a gift from the husband, a collage of my favorite shots from Gabriel’s Photography. There were a few miscellaneous things pinned as well — a “No Photos Please” Hello Kitty poster from Tokyo, some stickers from favorite local breweries, knick-knacks from travels, my motorcycle calendar…
Once everything was down from the wall and my drawers were emptied, I gave my laptop to my supervisor. And then, trying to be unceremonious but failing, I grabbed my crate of desk belongings, handed over my key, and walked out of the office.
And there was much rejoicing.
At least, that’s what I anticipated would happen. But as I walked to the car and waited for the feelings of relief to overcome the stressful high I have been riding for weeks, nothing happened. I went to happy hour and spent a lovely evening with my dear co-workers, where we (miraculously) did not discuss a single topic related to work.
Then I arrived home after 10:00 pm more stressed than when I left for the office that morning.
I told myself I just needed another day to unwind, then I would feel better. But Saturday passed, then Sunday, and now we are here: it is Monday morning. My co-workers have returned to the office without me. I’m at the beach with my family, trying not to think about work, but finding it difficult to do so.
Poor me, right?
It’s the end of an era… They were words a sweet co-worker wrote to me on Friday, referencing my departure from the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ Producer team. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I agree with her — I was one of the original producers, and the only one left from that team. The others have gone on to live and work in China and Switzerland, or to pursue other careers locally.
This morning I’ve reflected on her words. There’s something more to them. I realize that my departure is not just a new transition for the producer team, but it is “the end of an era” for my career — Friday was the last day, for at least two years (but possibly forever), that I will work in an office environment. I worked incredibly hard to be in a position where I could do what I wanted to do every day. I was getting paid to read and write and edit content about the world’s best travel destinations, all day long. Who wouldn’t want that as a job?
I’m leaving behind a career I love. I’m saying goodbye to people I love working with. I’m taking a step in a new direction, one that some people might think is suicidal for my career. After all, I’m going from managing website content and being glued to a computer all day long to a place where power outages are frequent and I might hop online once a day.
It’s hard. It was hard to make this decision months ago when we agreed to take this step and move to Uganda. Now that it’s time to follow through on that decision and take action, it’s not any easier. I’d argue it’s even harder.
But as hard as it is, I know we are doing the right thing and what we are called to do. Sometimes, I think we believe that when you are following a calling, decisions are easy and everything will fall into place because it’s meant to be. I don’t know why we believe this, since I’ve never found it to be the case. Sacrifices are necessary, and as hard as goodbyes are to make, I know saying goodbye to my job was the next step in getting to Uganda... and one I had to make.
Yes, Mondays are always hard. And this Monday is harder than I anticipated. But I know next Monday will be a little easier, and the next a little easier… and then, not too long from now, I’ll be spending my first Monday in Uganda. I’m not sure what that Monday will look like, but I hope you stick around with me long enough to find out.