Yesterday was my last day at the Chatham Record. I knew I'd be sad. What I didn't know was how busy I'd be. Final stories, for instance. My last story was a touching one - about a local church that raised funds to send a young man and his family home to Mexico after the man nearly drowned in Jordan Lake several weeks ago, suffering severe brain damage. I spent some of the morning of my last day talking to the pastor of the church that had raised over $3,000 for the family. He invited me into his home, and I thought about what a wonderful job being a reporter is, getting to talk to all these amazing people. My second to last story was about a new handicap ramp in town.
I also had to clean off my desk for my coworker, who will be taking my place in Pittsboro. Photos, notes, story ideas, business cards. Some I threw away, wondering why the hell I'd posted it on my bulletin board in the first place, but most I kept.
I ran up and down the main street in town, saying goodbye to friends, and made stops at local offices where'd I'd spent a lot of my time to tell everyone I hoped I'd run into them again soon.
Josephine, the woman I've shared an office with for the last three years, took my to lunch. Afterwards we hugged a few times and said how much we'd miss one another. On my drive over to Siler City one last time, to say goodbye to the rest of the crew, I felt sweaty and hurried and realized I hadn't even had time to think all day and suddenly I felt very, oppressively sad - not that anything was wrong, really, just realizing in one huge moment how much I'd miss everyone - and had to try and stop myself from having a major breakdown, which I was pretty sure would necessitate pulling over on the side of the road. Luckily, once at the news office I felt better, and said goodbye to my friend and boss, Randall, and the rest of my coworkers without losing it. In fact, most of the paper got done early and we were able to spend a little while purely messing around, joking and laughing hysterically.
It's not like I'm never going to see these people again, but working there has meant a lot to me. It's not all something I can get down in words, at least not yet.
You can see some pictures of Chatham County and my experience working at the newspaper here.
The other emotion that I felt when I had time to think yesterday was, of course, excitement. We're headed to Maine!
J and I went out for drinks and dinner to celebrate my last day but also my upcoming trip. We had amazing food and had interesting conversations and observed those around us. We ate at one of our favorite places. The lights were low and the conversations loud. Two tables down we watched an older couple, the woman appeared to be asleep, slumped against the bench. We noted that everyone seemed to have glasses of prosecco, a new item on the menu, and said that, obviously, we'd started that trend when we served it instead of champagne at our wedding. J whispered to me urgently at one point that Mac McCaughan, of the bands Superchunk and Portastatic, and co-founder of Merge Records, was sitting at a table nearby, talking to a friend. He then got really nervous, as he always does when he sees someone he sort of knows, or someone who is perhaps somewhat famous, especially if it's a musical artist he respects. He starts talking loudly about something else all the while shooting me glances that tell me if I go over there and talk to That Person and in any way embarass him, well, there will be hell to pay.
After the crowd subsided and we were one of the only tables left in the place, J and I went home. I fell asleep quickly, exhausted, and now it is Wednesday morning, and time to go. Despite the fact that, yes, I'm travelling to a house in Maine with my best friend and a band, three dogs and God knows who else, I promise frequent updates on what's going on. I mean, now that I'm not working I suppose I'd better keep some sort of schedule that involves some semblance of responsibility, as well as practicing and bettering my skills as a writer. Or maybe rock star. Blueberry farmer. I don't know. These next few weeks, I'm sure, will be full of self-discovery. I'm looking forward to telling you all about it.