Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stream of consciousness farewell

After 11 years, I am leaving my first real job, and I can't help but reflect on the amazing ride that it has been. I genuinely believe in the importance of capturing these reflections in writing so that some day when I am much older and the memory isn't as good as it use to be, I can revisit that younger self. But I also want to make sure that I am abiding by the blogging code of honor for these types of topics. So I have decided to attempt to write my farewell using one of my favorite writing techniques - stream-of-consciousness. Most of you won't have a clue what I am talking about, some of you might recognize bits and pieces, and a small handful of you will know it all, as we shared this time together.

Raining. Presenting my papers for the first time - excited to see him at the gate. Joking with the immigration guard-- 'Why would you ever want to move here, ah, for love, except for love.' Everything I own in bags and boxes strewn across the airport floor, trying to find his number written on one of the many pieces of paper in the folder with all that other important stuff. I need to get more organized. I have no change, so I am going to have to dial collect. But I haven't a clue how to dial collect here. The phone is ringing but no one answers. The taxi driver isn't very pleased with all my bags. He drives me to the address, and I get in the gate and tell him to leave me at the door to the apartment building. And I ring the bell. Over and over again. Finally he comes down, hung-over, half-awake. He forgot to pick me up. He forgot I was moving to Ireland.

First day in the office. The business park is under construction. The building is cold. No one is here except the guy in ICT. He is laying cables and he shows me a desk where I can sit. There is no phone, no computer, no people. Printed documents for me to read, a few screen-shots printed out in black-and-white. I am the first one to work in the new office block. The phone comes first, then a machine, the network, and slowly more people start to populate the desks. The team arrives, only they aren't going to be my team. I am being moved off the marketing team, heading upstairs to engineering. And I take a seat next to my boss. He is most people's boss. There are lots and lots of people around all the time. 

The first job is to write a suite of user guides. I am the first person to press every button, link to every page, try and complete every single business process all within a short period of time. I have lots of questions, I am gaining confidence, raising bugs, wanting to do more and more. I am driving him nuts, in a good way, I hope. Most nights I go home lonely though, to a wet, cold, dirty Dublin flat. After weeks of watching them get off the bus and go for pints, arriving in the next day with hang-overs, I finally get the courage to ask if I can join them. And so life in Ireland begins. I become the editor of the company newsletter. I know everyone and everyone knows me. I know what is going on, and people come to me for knowledge, gossip, support.

The company reaches out to NYC in their time of need. I am writing about unimaginable things. We believe in something. And we start to work long hours. All of us. A make-shift golf-course is built behind my desk. For weeks, he tried to get a ball in the hole and failed - I could not contain myself, knowing that they put magnets in his ball. Finally he catches on to my bright red face. 

I am no longer alone. I have a peer who is with me for the long haul. The team continues to grow. I have a mortgage. I make lists and I check off every item on every one of them. I am torn between the two worlds of wanting to know how stuff works and wanting the team to be successful, to represent something that is more than just the words we put to paper. For the most part, we are successful, but we do have a hard release that teaches us some very important lessons, like never stay in the office all-night. Sneak out even if it is just for a short-while, long enough to take a shower, change clothes, brush the teeth. I am running all the time, fast, far. The head is clear as I face the next adventure.

I am married now and we are trying to buy a house, which isn't easy. I am trying to embrace the notion of raising a family here while never truly being Irish. Friends move on, far away, peers are dispersed, and I take on a new job, working with the best team that may ever cross my path. We challenge each other, we respect each other, we get stuff done fast and to a high standard. We are all friends. This is our life. We don't want much else beyond the work and the occasional night of free beer. 

I am asked to leave the team that I love and rebuild. It is hard to leave that which is all I ever wanted in a career. But I do. I want to share this with the peers that got lost in translation. I am studying, I am pregnant, I am sick, I am a mom, I am finished the dissertation and back to work. Things have changed in my absence. No one writes the newsletter anymore. Childcare isn't great and it is incredibly hard to leave her each day. But I am determined to make it work, to get my mojo back. We are trying to decide whether or not to move to California. 

We move to Noe Valley, so different than we remember it - all of us are grown now, lots of kids and dogs. It takes just over a month, but we start to settle in, a new house, a great daycare, old friendships renewed, and new ones on the horizon. The sun is shining and it looks like things just might settle into a rhythm. The job changes. And I am trying to embrace the freedoms that less responsibility affords me. But it isn't in me. My daughter is thriving, and I want to be that mom who is comfortable in my skin, which means I need to find that spark again. 

I think I know how to get it back, and I begin to work hard to make it happen. Someone whom I admire takes me under his wing and gives me something to get stuck into. I am studying, negotiating, running, working out solutions from as many angles as possible, never closing any door that might just be the right one. A new door opens a little bit, and I decide to stick my foot in it. I am nervous about leaving that familiar space for something so completely unknown, but I like the way it makes me feel, to be new among a settled group, to know nothing among some of the cleverest peers.

This week is quiet-- a few quiet emails from people wishing me the best of luck, some harder ones from those who are like family. I have teared up a couple of times, and felt unsure as to whether or not that is OK, to be sad saying goodbye, and yet completely incapable of separating the personal from the professional in so many instances of the past 11 years. I am nervous about the unfamiliar. Will I be as known as I have been; will I be as able? Will there be a clearer line between work and home, or will those lines become blurred again as I will love what I do so much that I will need to merge the two together? Will I have a golf-course behind my desk?


  1. Very touching Meggin! 11 years is a long time eh?

    I know you'll have great success and satisfaction in your new job, and make as good lifelong friends as you made here.

    Also, Podge forgot to pick up up from the airport when you came over? That's pretty hilarious - an intrinsic part of the folklore no doubt. I can see you both chuckling heartily when you tell Amelia that story in years to come.

    Or maybe she'll ask you about it reading this post in the not so distant future, maybe even 11 years from now.

  2. Maybe not a golf course, but something awesome f'sure.

    Love this post. Good luck with your new adventure!