This week, my last week at the library, is going slow, so slow, way too slow for my sanity. I’ve been working here since the dawn of time, but this week feels like it is at least eight times longer than that, plus infinity. I want this part of my life to end and the next part to start now, five minutes ago, last June, but somehow, it doesn’t work that way. I am supposed to sit through these last three days in real time, so unfairly.
Nostalgia for this place–that peculiar pre-nostalgia that hits you when something is in the process of ending–has not yet kicked in. I expected to be roaming the stacks, thinking this is the very last time I will ever stand in the Journal of Exciting Science–Journal of Less Exciting Science section of the stacks, and running the tips of my fingers reverently over bound issues of Cell and sighing with great and meaningful feeling, but that has not yet happened, because I am a cold and unfeeling monster. Plus, I am so tired of periodicals, I cannot even tell you.
It’s the people who keep hitting me. They keep walking up to me and just punching me in the face. Well, no, but it might be easier that way, if they did. Instead, these crazy, awesome weirdos with whom I’ve been working since the dinosaurs roamed the earth have been coming up to me and offering congratulations and telling me they are so happy for me and excited and they will miss me. Then something close to remorse closes over my head and I drown in the very terrible feeling that I am making a very terrible mistake.
What the hell am I doing, giving up my comfortable job and my comfortable life and my comfortable routine? How will I live without a latte, and a walk through the park, and a bus up the hill, a day doing unstressful library things as one does in a library, working with good people and then walking home through the park? I am leaving it all behind for good! That is so dramatic. But it is also truer than the truest thing ever, because it is for the forces of good, and not just a good cause.
That routine I am fond of, I was sinking in it, down and down and down, and only recently–the past year, maybe?–had I realized I was getting stuck, and if I weren’t careful, I’d be spending the rest of my life doing this. Supervising student assistants who would get younger and younger and probably stupider as I got older and older and bitter and hunched and probably also stupider, my fingers glued together from all countless decades of mending mutilated journals, my eyesight ruined from the endless squinting at library databases, dying behind the desk, my face twisted into a rictus of agony, because I just could not take the one billionth senior who could not comprehend, even with the help of hand gestures and useful illustrations, the difference between a trade journal and a peer-reviewed journal, goddamnit. Also, holy shit am I tired of working weekends.
So leaving is good. Hardly anyone leaves this library, because it is such a comfortable place to work, with all the benefits a Jesuit can throw at your greedy little head. But here I go, and of course I am wondering why the hell I have volunteered to be the odd man out. And then I remember the above paragraph, only in full color and with a soundtrack, and I am okay again.
These people who aren’t leaving, though–they are people I am going to miss. They were Swiss army coworkers, the people I not only worked for and with and near, but hung out with and gossiped with and plotted with to convert a library cart into a happy hour wet bar. (Solution: put alcohol on it. Wheel.) I start thinking about it, and that’s when I get all sticky-faced and nostalgic, treacly and filled up to the top with weepy sentiment, and approach dangerously close to demands for group hugs.
Three more days of this, and then I can retreat back into cold-hearted snake-iness, and everyone at my new job will be none the wiser about the very true fact that I am a goddamn sap. As long as I am not weeping at my new desk, lost in all the misty watercolored memories.
The library is still right across the park and up a ways, and I get to keep my library card–which cleared up a lot of the sadness, right quick. Funny, that. And my coworkers tell me that they will stay in touch and BFF and have a great summer! But I am sure that they are not going anywhere. They’re not as willing (read: dumb) as I am, to give up everything good for everything uncertain. Despite/because of/alongside everything else, I’m still not entirely convinced that it’s the best idea I’ve ever had, but this week is still going extraordinarily slowly.