As I said earlier, this is my last day in the office.
Although I’m past the scare of not having a job (at least for the next few months), it’s only now hitting me that I’ll be leaving a place that I’ve been going to, almost every day, for the past 10 years.
Switching jobs within the company wasn’t that big of a deal, and a very welcome change. Getting a new boss every year was also run of the mill, and getting new co-workers barely made me blink an eye. But leaving the company for good, not for vacation, not for extended leave, but most likely forever is giving me the willies.
Imagine, every day, going to the same place, knowing, if not exactly was going to happen, that at least you had a desk, a chair, a computer, and a phone to call your own. “I live on the 15th floor” is something people around here say by mistake often, and while it’s a sad testament to how many hours some put in, it also speaks a truth: work is like a second home. You’re there five days a week, more or less, eight hours a day, more or less. You only spend more time sleeping (or maybe not).
My workplace has been my refuge. Where can I write when I want out of my apartment and am sick of cafes? Where can I stow all the CDs and books I don’t have room for at my apartment? Where will I print hundreds of pages of manuscripts and filch office supplies? Not only is this my workplace, it’s my work out place, my gym for the past decade. My eatery, my bank, my post office. I barely have to leave the building all day (whether that’s good or bad is another story).
It was from my desk as an admin that I planned my wedding, surfing the internet for dresses, venues, and honeymoon spots. It’s where I printed off labels and stuffed envelopes, and argued with the photographer on the phone. It’s where my nice bosses let me work on my writing if the day was slow, and where I dealt with a million temps, some pretty slow themselves.
It was where I received the shipment of my first (and only) published book, where I got the mysterious email from Ron and Judy, then later from my cousin Huang Lei that surprise! she was in America and married to Ron and Judy’s son Shane. It was where I tried to get in touch with my ex during 9/11, only to have his phone ring and ring and ring, and where, a year later, the city went black, a piece of cake compared to a terrorist attack.
The best was when I got a cube with high walls, though that didn’t stop people from barging in. It was in this cube that I dealt with my ex’s adultery, sitting at my desk and almost crying all day, every day. It was from this cube that I called my ex’s mistress and found out she hadn’t had the abortion he had asked of her.
Then finally, an office, where YP, sliding the door closed, came to bitch about our monster boss. Then another office where I, and all my coworkers, shut the door against another nightmare boss, and finally this office, monster printer and all.
Not having this second place anymore will be strange. In San Francisco, I’ll have my apartment, possibly the gym, and what, a café? the library? Both fine till you have to go to the bathroom, and then what, drag all your crap with you or ask some random person to watch your $2000 laptop? I can see why freelancers rent office space.
But I know that this place has been a crutch as well as a comfort, an excuse not to pursue my writing, not to socialize more. Being without an office will force me into new situations, though what those might be, I’m not quite sure. But I’m starting to think that’s okay.