Friday, February 04, 2022

on goodbyes....

 The weekend before I started at the Library in 2000, I had basically uprooted my life in two short weeks, over the Thanksgiving break, to move to Chicago from Rockford.  I'd been living there for a year and a half since finishing my MA in lit.  In the meantime, I had spent three months floundering for a job I was qualified for and then the next year and change working in the library of an elementary school..a job I was quick to leave with the promise of better wages, city-living, and not crawling around on my knees shelving and reading to children. I moved in with a thrifted recliner, a futon on the floor, a Christmas tree,  and some clothes and started work immediately that Monday after the holiday. I have been there ever since.

It;s is bizarre to leave, and I'm not sure it's settled in completely, the place I considered a home for two decades will no longer be that. In many ways, it not lost, since I still will visit, attend workshops, surely  borrow as an alum. Have plans to collab with my A of R co-curator on more community library focused things.  But also, it is kind of lost to me as I walked out into the snow tonight.  I will no longer be occupying the cubicle I spent 8 hours a day, every day. The desk covered with stickers and the bulletin board and partition walls collecting random art and ephemera over the years. Will no longer have access to my e-mail address I've used in various places since the beginning.  To my slow, slow computer that always took so long to wake up each day. It has always felt, as the years wore on , that it was more and more MY library. That I was invested in it--from the daily tasks and patron interractions to the art we hung on the walls.  And in recent years--the signage, social media and blog accounts I occupied. 

The past two weeks, when discussing future plans, it was hard not feel that investment and ownership, but of course, hard to diseentangle. To slowly return books and pack stuff up--not the ordinary things one has in a workplace--a mug, some chochkes, but 20 years of random crap, much of it squirreled away in my desk and under my desk, and in various nooks and crevices of my work area. Magazines & books I took from the free table for collage. Art supplies brought in for workshops. Things given to me by co-workers. Things made at events I liked and kept. The sum total of twenty odd years in one place.

It felt strange to leave the studio where I had been for 12 years, but only a small segment of the day.  This feels more drastic--leaving where I spent eight hours every day for almost twice as long. A place with formed my social group and my outside-work life as well, which has varied over time (there were years where I spent nearly every Friday night in various bars with people I worked with, other years where I barely socialized at all as people moved away to other jobs and other lives. ) It's as interwoven in my life, perhaps even moreso than my non-work life.

So today, there were goodbye tacos and sweet cards and notes and flowers.  I will miss the people the most, not so much the work and the hours and the commute. It won't feel real, I suppose, until Monday when I do not set off for downtown as I have every day for two decades.  Do not close out the library at 10pm, which I've been doing almost since the beginning. It's wonderful, but also tinged with sadness..

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