I started writing this post on Christmas Eve 2018, three days after my party celebrating my retirement from the City of Folsom after 21 years of service. The good, the bad, the punching walls in stalls of the ladies’ room so I wouldn’t punch an actual person, such as that annoying next door neighbor that has Code Enforcement on speed dial and “PAYS YOUR (MY) SALARY” and tells me “I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEBODY WHO CAN ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING!!” or “YOU ARE USELESS AND STUPID!” then hangs up, robbing me of the opportunity to verbally slash and stab him with my elegant and lethal word-sword. The frustration, the smiling while my teeth are cracking under the pressure of my clenched jaw, the radiating pain that starts between my shoulder blades and travels up and out to my neck, my arms and hands, my poor aching head.
But I digress.
Back to the party. Now, let me begin with I had no idea that there would be so many people who would show up for me at all, much less 4 days before Christmas at the most historically insane season of them all. I was wrong, oh so happily, unbelievably, blessedly wrong. There were so many souls that I had walked through so many seasons with, so many friends that traveled so far with me; growth and tears and shoulders leaned on, talks and walks and Girls Nights Out, talking smack about this and that. Blowing off steam, venting hot angry tears of frustration and rage in equal measures to understanding, empathetic friends who don’t judge, don’t try to fix or explain anything to me that I already know. They just sit with me until the storm passes, ensuring that I do not lose myself, underestimate my strength and surrender to the storm. This too shall pass.
Again, I digress. Here is the actual post from that night, without further ado!
I had my retirement party last Friday, with lunches and well wishes for the entire month beforehand and while I had known that a few people were planning on stopping by, I had no idea just how many people would come to my party. The true riches are not just the gift bags, cards and presents, but the people!! Oh the people!! Co-workers who had the good fortune to retire before me, long time friends, a few family members and a few friends of friends who made it a point to stop by. It was a night of pure joy for me. I saw people that I hadn’t seen in years, co-workers that I had worked with for many years but never got the opportunity to sit down, drink in hand and just talk about anything, everything or nothing at all with no rush, no end of lunch hour or deadlines calling us back to City Hall.
It was a time of celebration and also a time of sadness, the perfect cocktail of happy/sad that only times like these can bring. A closing of one door, an opening of another and with it, a feeling of anticipation and joy at the possibilities, while the closing (as most closings and endings tend to do) brings a bit of heaviness to the heart, a cardigan of protection for precious cargo and to keep the memories warm and alive while we move forward. We don’t leave them behind, but that time is truly gone. Only the memory remains and only so long as we beckon to it, call it awake and bring it back to us.
This is why people, as much as I struggle with them, are the gift, the treasure, the precious cargo; they help steady the boat when seas get violent and darkness makes the journey treacherous. They are the lighthouses that guide you away from the rocks, towards the open seas and eventually onto safe harbors, fireplaces stocked full of burning cords of wood, warm soup and a face you’ll love to gaze upon for the rest of your days. When the heart is full and the soul is being fed a steady diet of self-love and you are doing what you love, being with those you love and who love you in return, there is nothing better in this world for any living creature.
It’s knowing that our time together has no guarantee, we don’t own anyone nor does anyone own us. We can vow to be with that person for all of our days, but at some point, may still end up alone. Which is why each moment is the gift, each person who shares a bit of themselves with you is to be treasured. The phone will always be there, there will be another sale, there will be another opportunity to stare at yet another screen of some size and sort, but the day light will only last so long and friendships have seasons, too. It’s not about owning or keeping or controlling, it’s about freeing, loving, letting go. That’s joy.
You don’t get that when you’re trying to control the You, Me, The Universe and Everything, which is all I had done my entire life. Hence, the seriously dramatic moods, out of control anger at the touch of a finger, (Hulk – I see you!) I have been plagued by a Costco-sized pack of addictions, demons of all size, shape and manifestation – I’m certain most of my own creation – and I have survived it all. I have walked alone in this world at times but I have never been totally, truly alone without friend or family or someone to call. I have wished for that many times, but like most wishes, I had no idea what I was truly wishing for. I have thought that I couldn’t take another step, only to find outstretched hands willing to help share the load. I have been hurt by love, disappointed by those I thought I knew and could trust, but I have also been granted grace, forgiveness and unconditional love in greater measures.
So now I’m moving on to other things and chasing other dreams. No one knows what tomorrow brings and some say we shouldn’t assume tomorrow will come at all, but for now, let’s just go with it.
Whatever may come, wherever I may roam, whatever I chose to do, I know I will always have a friend in you. You are my treasure chest, my hope and my guiding star. You are my True North, worth your weight in gold, no value could ever truly capture your worth to me (you know how much I hate numbers anyway).
This embarrassment of riches is more than I could have ever wished for; you are all in my heart for always and until we see each other again, know that I will be thinking of you and carrying those memories of our times together with me always. I hope that I have been half the friend to you that you have been to me.