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My Retirement Journal: Day -1

I realize, looking back at my past two "retirement journal" entries, that I haven't actually written much about leaving work, which is, after all, the definition of retirement!

Tomorrow is my last day at POP. I've worked there for thirteen years. I don't know how it will feel to walk out of the office for the last time. Freeing, maybe, and sad. I've often loved working at POP, and sometimes hated it. I've had some great and not-so-great experiences there. I've had coworkers who were like family, others who were barely more than strangers, and a few I didn't like.

I guess I've just described life in general. (In that sense, I wonder if leaving life is like retiring: both freeing and sad...)

Last Friday I had my exit interview with Molly, who is the Human Resources Manager. Besides going over logistical things, we spent a good half hour having a conversation that was remarkably frank and felt cathartic for me. I was able to share the experience of being one of the oldest employees at POP. The culture at the company is very youthful, and I have not generally felt like I fit. And I realized, as I was telling her this, that I've seen a similar transition take place among some coworkers who have been at POP as long as I have. When they were younger, they were very much a part of the social fabric of the company, but I have seen many of them gradually detach themselves. Molly herself, who has been at POP for six years, said she is starting to feel it herself.

It's not necessarily a bad thing for a company to have a youthful culture. But it's interesting to see how long-term employees can come to feel less connected to that culture.

Over the last few weeks I've gotten some very kind and thoughtful messages from coworkers. At the all-company meeting last Thursday RJ, the president of POP, thanked me for my contributions and I got a nice round of applause from everyone. But amidst all the other changes that are happening in my life right now, leaving POP and leaving the workforce seem oddly insignificant and anti-climactic.

Tomorrow is my last day, and I'm tempted to just duck out quietly.

Yesterday I moved out of my house. That should have felt monumental, but it was also just a small moment in the inexorable march toward my new life. Just four days from now I'll be on a plane heading to Guadalajara, where I will start a whole new life. compared to that, quitting work, selling and moving out of a house where I've lived for twenty years, and saying good-bye to many friends feel more like prelude than climax.

Incidentally, I ended up leaving some cash for the buyers to help pay for the repair of the ceiling fan light. So that crisis has been averted.

I'm staying with my friend Leah, who has only recently become a friend and is quickly becoming a great friend. Last night she had our mutual friends Kathy and Chris over for dinner, and the four of us had a really great evening, cooking, drinking wine, eating, and playing some bridge. Kathy got this nametag made for me, and seeing it was the closest I've come to feeling like things are getting real.

This afternoon I go pick up my resident visa at the Mexican consulate. This evening I'll connect with my friend James. Tomorrow night I'm going to take Leah out for dinner. Wednesday during the day I'll take care of the sale of my car. And Wednesday night I'm having dinner with my friend Mark. Thursday night my friend Joy will pick me up at midnight to take me to the airport.

No dominoes have toppled yet. But I guess there's still time.

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