I haven’t been watching closely, but they’ve been giving Big Papi a large, celebratory send off. I caught something out of the corner of my eye on TV where they filled the field with doughnuts that made the shape of him. I wondered, only because I have my own hangups, why? He’s choosing to leave the game, he wont have to work any more, he made tons of money playing this game, why such a big send off?
I really do get it, it’s a celebration of his success, of the player he is and was, a celebration of his entire career. Its not so much a celebration of his leaving, but of his his time there and what he meant to those around him.
I’m not writing this post because I do not get it. I’m writing this post because when I saw his send off celebration it reminded me of my own, and how I had the hardest time justifying it. Of not feeling guilty and like a complete sham, and I’m still struggling with it a bit.
I was a part of an Art Department that did an amazing job of celebrating each other and was very used to saying goodbye, as one of the most fluid departments in one of the most fluid schools. What I mean by this is staff turn over was a traumatic over norm at our school. I used to liken people who left to “rats from a sinking ship.” I am well aware our school is one of the most difficult to teach at, but I don’t believe it was a sinking ship at all. I believe our school has a lot going for it and I sometimes had disdain for people who left because I felt they were the ones viewing it as a sinking ship and if so, they didn’t have the fortitude to go down with it. And now I was leaving, just quitting, not going to teach any children anywhere else, doing a stupid thing of “following a dream” of a writing career. Stephen King quit his job to be a writer so I’ll be successful in no time right? So dumb. And my colleagues celebrated that. In a very thoughtful way.
There was a cake with the message:
a nice micro brew with the same message:
and a framed Hemingway quote that every one signed the back of:
There were snacks people brought, time spent hanging out, and cards written. I even got a wonderful necklace from a colleague.
Gifts?!?! Why did I deserve this? I spent the time not being able to answer the question a million different people asked me: What kind of writing do you do?
“Listen!” I wanted to scream, “I have no idea what kind of a writer or what I’m doing at all. I have no idea, no plan and I don’t deserve this!”
I wish I could go back in time. I’d wait awhile because I know I still don’t completely get it and I’m still holding onto a lot of that, but I wish once I fully get it I could go back and enjoy it, and celebrate.
What I get now is that it was a celebration of what the previous ten years meant. They meant a lot. I was successful, I worked hard, and I did a lot of great things, some big, and many many small things that meant a lot to a lot of people. I’m proud of that decade. Very proud.
We have a tradition of sneaking out onto the roof to say our good byes whenever someone leaves. Quite a few of the people in these pictures with me are also not working there any more.
And you know what? These artsy rebels I work with are excited for me, for the adventure. I am, too. It’s such a chance, such a dare, and such a world full of make believe. I welcome the work ahead of me.