Poem – taking my leave

It is a little like death,
this leaving.
I’m telling all my favorite patrons
and they say
“It was nice to know you “
as if I’ve said
I’m dying,
or moving to Minnesota.

They ask
“Is it closer to your home?”
“Is it a promotion?”
“Is it something you want?”

Some don’t catch the use
of the
passive
tense.
I’m being transferred.
It is a subtle difference,
but a difference
none the less.

They need someone
who is experienced
at this new-to-me
tiny branch,
someone
who knows
the rules and can stand
on her own.
Someone who is strong.
It is a complement
that they have such faith
in me.

But it is still hard,
after 14 years.
I grew this place.
I grew in this place.
I decided where everything went.
I created the flow.
I shaped it.
It shaped me.

I take my leave of this place.
This is the last time
I’ll walk in the park.
The last time
I’ll get the bookdrop.

I’ll be back, sure,
to fill in,
to catch up on hours
so I can get the weekend off.
I’ll teach a bead class.

But it is like
having a house
and planting a garden.
When you move,
someone else tends the plants
– or not.
Someone else does the repairs
to the bathroom tile
– or not.

It is a letting-go,
this leave taking.

It is a bit like death,
and being reborn.

Transaction

People have a habit of coming up to me and telling me the most amazing things. These are really deep, dark, personal things that are very private. I’ve taken classes on how to deal with this because it happened so often. I believe that since people are handing me very heavy stories, it is important that I learn how to receive them and carry them in a way that is safe for me. I believe it is also important to make sure that I handle what they have had to say in a way that is respectful to them. There are many ways to do this incorrectly.

I’m sure all of us have had the experience of when we say something really private and personal to someone that they will say something insensitive such as “Oh something worse happened to me,” or “Oh, it’ll get better,” or “It’s not that bad.” It is important not to diminish a person or minimize their pain. But it is also important not to attempt to fix them. Sometimes (often) the most healing thing you can do is simply to listen.

I know several people who have gone on to become professional counselors because the same thing happens to them. They get paid to listen to people tell their secrets and fears. I feel that to turn such a private and personal and beautiful experience into a transaction cheapens it. I believe that it is exactly the same as the difference between making love and being a prostitute. It has turned a very private and intimate experience between two people into a mechanical thing that has money involved.

Perhaps the answer is that people need to all be trained how to talk honestly, and how to listen with open hearts. We need to share with each other. The relationship needs to be two-sided, equal. And then people need healthy places to share.

Sharing with the bank teller or the store clerk isn’t healthy or equal. The employee is trapped there and is not allowed to share how she is feeling. They are not trained in this either. There need to be meeting areas where people can gather and speak on equal ground.

Dolphins are intelligent because they play a lot.

The students were showing their projects one day last week. They got to teach me instead of me teaching them. They had just been to the zoo and each student completed a project about her or his favorite animal. They were to say where the animal lived, what it liked to eat, and any interesting facts about it. After that, the other students could ask questions. Now, remember these are kindergartners so sometimes the questions are a little unusual. Also, half of the kindergartners don’t have English as their first language so sometimes the questions are even more unusual.

One of the students did a report on dolphins. At the end, another student asked “Why are dolphins intelligent?” She thought about it for a while and was stumped. I understand – it’s kind of an unusual question. The teacher thought about it and she prompted “Well, what makes you intelligent?” to the student who was showing her project. She thought about it and she said “Because they like to play a lot.

I was stunned at how amazing an answer that was. Play makes you intelligent. She’s got it. That’s the answer. I immediately had to find a pen and a piece of paper so I can write that down.

A second student asked “Why do they like to play a lot?” She thought about it and answered “Because it takes care of them.”

This kid at five has the answer. Play makes you intelligent and it helps you. The sentences don’t make a lot of sense but there is so much truth hidden within them.

Expectations

I’m being transferred to another library. It was unexpected, and I wasn’t really given a choice. I’m grateful it is close to my home and in a safe part of town. I have to rearrange my life-schedule to fit around this. There will be a lot of people I’ll no longer get to see. But, there will be many new opportunities to learn and grow. With the bitter is the sweet. I’m coming to look forward to this new opportunity. It will be a challenge since there are only three people working in that branch, and we will work every Saturday. In order to get the weekends off I’ll have to take vacation time or work extra (at my old branch) to make up the hours.

I find that I’m expecting a going away party. I am dropping hints for the kind of gifts that I would like. And then I realize this is really super rude of me. A gift that is given under duress is not a gift. And if I expect this to happen and it doesn’t happen then I will be really hurt. It is better for it to be a surprise in a good way. It is better for them to give me a gift of a party freely and out of kindness and love and respect then give it because they think they have to.

Everyone else has gotten a going away party. Well, except for one recent person who we almost wanted to give a going away party because we were so glad he was going away.

I’ve been there for 14 years. I was hired 10 days before the branch opened and so I helped establish the order and routine of how we do things in my department. Not only do I know the history of the branch but I have created the history of the branch. I think that deserves something. I don’t want a plaque or a memorial but I would like for my service there to be acknowledged and commended.

This is very small of me.

And perhaps I’m expecting too much of people who didn’t choose to work with me. Perhaps I’m expecting too much of coworkers and expecting them to be friends. Perhaps they don’t see how much I’ve done to create the stability and the flow of that department. Perhaps they will only notice it after I’m gone.