“I can’t do this,” said my friend when we got off the elevator after lunch and I was about to say goodbye. “We’re friends, we’ll stay in touch.” He darted away, mumbling something about Facebook.
He was having a hard time with the recent layoffs and couldn’t deal with another set of goodbyes, maybe? I wasn’t offended because I ended up sneaking out without talking to several really nice people. I just didn’t want to drag things out further. I worked there for 45 days after I found out my position was being eliminated. I’ve already said goodbye several thousand times.
“Stay cool!” I said to the people who I ran into or who stopped by to exchange a parting. “Have a great weekend — and a great life!” When I left, I said “Bye, computer! It’s been real,” as I logged off for the last time, made some sarcastic comments to the nearby cluster of people, and then exited the building with the feeling of a rabbit darting into the rabbit hole. Safe and unsafe all in one.
I almost posted something on Facebook along the lines of “Insert heartfelt and meaningful goodbye email detailing how you’ve touched my life over the years and how much I’ve learned from my time here at Acme, Inc. Also included: Nonbinding agreement to stay in touch.” Then I realized I was masking actual emotions with “humor.” As usual.
Today was my last at a place where I worked for almost 14 years.
It’s the place I met the previously mentioned friend. When we started talking one day, we realized we were from the same horrible town in northern Indiana but had gone to different high schools and graduated a year apart. We both attended IU in Bloomington at the same time and may even have both lived in the same shitty apartment complex. Then we both lived in Indianapolis in our twenties, going to poetry readings. We knew the same people, but his close friends were my acquaintances and vice versa. He was roommates with a man who later married one of my best friends. We’ve often talked about how we were fated to be friends.
I’m not totally sure we’ll stay in touch.
One reason: We usually make plans when we run into each other in the elevator or break room.
Another reason: I now suck at being friends with people.
I’m not sure what happened. A combination of getting older, the Internet, becoming a completely different person. The old me was fucked up in a lot of ways, but she knew how to make friends. For the new me, there’s some kind of line I have a hard time crossing. Facebook friends, yes. Let’s do it. I’m hilarious on the Internet! Pals, of course! Let’s make plans over email three weeks in advance. A group that meets formally once a week or once a month? I’m in. But I have a hard time just staying in regular touch and being close with anyone except one of my sisters. Who lives in Idaho.
The people who have filled that space for me have been work friends. People I saw every day without trying. Now I’m not gonna see ‘em unless I try. I told my closest work friend that I’d be calling her at 8 a.m. on Monday. She seemed like she was okay with it.
Bye Acme, Inc! It’s been real. Miss you guys for real.