I went to a friend’s departmental goodbye party this afternoon. She was one of the first people I met when I moved to Philly, and now, after four years, she’s leaving for better things and exciting opportunities. This was the first of what I assume will be many send off events I’ll attend for her over the next couple of months.
As I walked into the party, she was surrounded by her (almost entirely female) students. They took turns engaging her in conversation, the rest hanging on to her every word, waiting their turn to address her. It was obvious how much they liked and respected her. There was even a little awe/hero worship going on. I got a kick out of watching her inhabit this role that was mostly foreign to me. It was interesting to see the people who made up the other half of her life. She spotted me and eventually made her way over to say hi, but was quickly caught up in conversation with her admirers. It was fine, as I know it was not my last opportunity to say goodbye.
I have another dear friend who’s moving at the end of May, to go back to her home state of Texas. She told her boss today that she’s leaving, which adds an additional layer of reality to my understanding of her departure. We’ve carefully orchestrated the weekends between now and then to include as many Philly activities as we can. This Saturday is thrift stores and the Italian Market, followed by an evening of cooking at my apartment. There’s also a trip to the Dansko outlet, a visit to the zoo, a weekend in New York and a day of Philly tourist stuff on the agenda in the coming weeks. All fun, but not without an element of the bittersweet.
I am sad to see these two women go, they’ve both played vital roles in my life over the last four years. But I’m also deeply okay with it, as I know absolutely that they are making moves that are good and right for them. I even feel little bursts of excitement, knowing that their lives are about to change in both dramatic and minute ways.
I think in some ways, I’m also just a little bit envious, as they are taking steps to walking through freshly opened doors, while all I can see for myself right now is that first crack of light. Well, you’ve always got to start somewhere.