I don't know quite what I expected to feel on leaving work. I thought I would be a bit sad perhaps, to leave my colleagues behind. I thought I would be excited about the new life ahead. I thought it would feel odd. And if I am honest I probably had not thought about it too much, feeling that I couldn't really second guess how I would feel and that the important thing had been to decide that this was what I wanted to do. Heaven knows, making my mind up was hard enough to do!
The last day was strange, clearing out my desk, throwing armfuls of paper into the confidential waste and rescuing a couple of articles I had written for technical journals. I don't think I will need them but my memory is so sieve-like that I won't be able to remember who published them without a copy. It felt like the slenderest of insurance policies, throwing away years of notes and journals and presentations and hanging onto two publications, too small a legacy for twenty years of professional life. I handed in my laptop and my blackberry, feeling strangely naked. My handbag felt too light and I felt like a balloon, floating free, with that same slight sadness I feel when I see a balloon let go, floating up in the sky, gone, out of reach.
We had farewell drinks. We all said we would keep in touch but there is only one person who has become such a friend that I know that I will see continue to see her. It felt an oddly anticlimactic thing, slipping out of the door without a real fanfare or farewell. That was my fault really. I had inadvertently arranged my farewell when my boss and some of my senior colleagues were away at a conference and I didn't want to come back again just for a send off so I didn't reschedule it. Part of me just wanted to get on with it.
Last week hardly felt any different. I don't normally work on Friday so it was really just Thursday, usually a working from home day, when I had additional time. I sorted papers for the cottage, tidied my handbag, sowed sweetpeas by the dozen, took my work suits to the dry cleaners. It could have been just an extra day's holiday although there was no Thursday morning conference call. I looked out of the window a bit, wondering what to do. I walked round the garden.
I knew that today would be the day when it really hit home. Today I normally get up, pack my bag, check my diary, make a call or two and drive to the station to catch the train to London. Today I got up at about a quarter to eight, only half an hour later than usual. I thought I would drift if I stayed at home so I went to yoga and relished the sense of a second class in a week, my body suddenly surprising me by a rightness to a posture that I had not realised was lacking, tightness relaxing, sinews stretching. My tight hamstrings still make touching my toes a distant dream but it was good to give myself fully to something, letting the distractions go, focussing on the body so fully that the mind quietens.
I am torn now between a sense that I should work frantically through the masses of things to do which I have been putting on various lists for weeks and thinking that I should take my time. There is always tomorrow and the tomorrow after that. Too much rushing about will prevent whatever it is that I want to give room for from emerging. Sorry if that sounds too new-agey but that is how it feels, although I am a boringly practical person. But too much solitude and lassitude will not be good for me either. I know I am someone who needs people to fire off as well as time to myself. I am also someone who has had a lifetime of responding to deadlines, of working best under pressure, of whizzing around on an adrenalin high which I have been slowly weaning myself from over these last couple of years.
So today I am going to live in the day, quiet and still with a pale grey sky and some Spring warmth in the air. I have my Offa's Dyke walk in a few weeks' time to give me a focus and something to plan for so I am not going totally cold turkey. I have counted out the seed potatoes and watered in the greenhouse and there is a suspicious cat related stain to clean from under the dresser. There is Welsh class tonight and boiler services to be arranged and the cottage accounts to do.
I think I might start with the suspicious stain. Doesn't do to get too excited too soon.