I quit my job this week.
No, that’s not quite right. You could say I quit four months ago, when I publicly announced I’d be leaving.
Or maybe in April, when I finalized my end date.
Or maybe last November, when I told my boss I was applying for grad school, and that if I didn’t get in, I’d leave either way to study on my own.
Or maybe two Augusts ago, when I was walking around Brooklyn and realized, oh my god, I want to write, I want to apply for grad school or take a year off, and I’m really going to do it.
Point is, if there were an award for longest exit transition from a job ever (excluding retirement), I’m pretty sure I’d take the gold medal. I’ve been anticipating this for a long time. I’ve been anticipating closure from the past four years of my life.
I wondered what that would feel like. Closure.
My last day was on Tuesday, but I scheduled a meeting for Thursday, and had a goodbye virtual happy hour on Friday. Even in the final week, my exit was drawn out. In limbo. No goodbyes yet, no closure.
After I wrapped up Tuesday, I didn’t have time for closure. I had a virtual writing group to attend, then I passed out at nine o’clock. I was exhausted. The next day, I made myself busy with a host of other things. Life-putting-back-together things. Figuring out health insurance and my 401(k). Writing this and that, reading that and this. Signing up for a writing class. Picking up a library book. Picking out Chanukah gifts. Sending Chanukah gifts.
My final task for the day was mailing the gifts. I wondered, should I go to UPS, Fedex or the Post Office? The Post Office had closed by the time I was walking around Columbia Heights, and FedEx was closer to me, so there it was. Then I had to choose, express mail? Fragile mail? How long would each take, were my gifts fragile enough to require the extra padding, how rough do the FedEx workers treat the non-fragile packages, do they throw them around like footballs or place them underneath bowling balls? I chose the fragile, non-express option. The FedEx worker who checked me out wore a mask that said “FedEx strong” and a livestrong-esque bracelet that said “Wish.” He looked about twenty but had the confidence of someone aged forty (though I suppose that’s a trait of most twenty-year-olds). Someone walked in with a package ready to go and, even though I got there first, the FedEx worker took this ready-to-go package and sent it off. The benefits of being prepared. I didn’t care, I had nothing to do after this. Someone else walked in and asked, “Do you deliver to P.O. boxes?” FedEx-strong-man said, with pride, “Nope, that’s literally the only thing FedEx doesn’t do.” As if aside from delivering to P.O. boxes, FedEx could save the world. Then he attended to my packages, and that was that.
Afterwards, I walked. I didn’t have anywhere to go, I just wanted to walk. The sun had barely set, the night was new, everyone was outside because what else was there to do. I walked on sidewalks that sloped downwards and upwards. Curb ramps with bumpy rumble strips. I became intensely focused on equilibrating the feeling of my feet. Every time my right foot stepped on a crack, I needed to even it out with my left. Every time the left came down on a bumpy rumble strip with those little cement balls, the right had to do so on the next. The crack-to-foot location and intensity mattered as well. Top of the left hard, top of the right hard. Back of the right heel, you know how it goes. It’s a weirdly soothing game that borders on mental insanity if you try too hard. Sometimes I don’t even realize I am playing it until I find myself jumping to reach a rumble strip with the correct foot, when I have to tell myself to calm down, that it’s okay if the feeling in the feet is slightly different, it all evens out in the end.
This is when I realized I had closure.
Closure is not some big, cinematic thing. It is simply the realization that your mind can be occupied by something different. That your previous worries are gone. And that’s that.
For the first time in a long time, I had the mental space to focus on the feeling of my feet.
14th Street NW