‘6” — the sticky note countdown calendar a colleague stuck on my cabinet doesn’t lie. And yet the reality that in just six days I’ll be leaving the Record-Eagle, my second home for more than 22 years, hasn’t sunk in.
Even as I clean out my desk and cabinets, rid my red office chair of its stubborn white cat hairs, stuff years of reporter notebooks and typewritten notes into boxes for shredding, and strip my pod walls of their schedules, lists and reminders, it seems like I’m merely cleaning house.
Everywhere I look are mementos of a career, and of people, I came to love even through the most challenging of times — from newsroom layoffs to newsroom funerals.
There’s the ribbon bookmark in a cross shape from a woman I interviewed about her battle with a particularly brutal form of cancer, the first Traverse City Film Festival schedule, considerably thinner than this year’s 15th edition, a clip of one of my favorite stories in which I followed the animals of the old Clinch Park Zoo to their new homes around the country.
There’s the origami seal a colleague crafted from one of my signature neon-colored cube notes, the all-weather pen I bought after an outdoor assignment to cover a pumpkin catapult taught me that ink really can freeze (my colleague on the assignment, a photographer now buried at Arlington National Cemetery, stuffed me into his survival suit so I wouldn’t do likewise), the toy cat skeleton we positioned in unimaginable ways on desks long past Halloween.
There’s the notes — stained with rain and the remains of drive-through meals — scribbled on everything from napkins to the backs of receipts as I came across unexpected story ideas while traveling around the region.
Then there’s the prehistoric Rolodex files, the pre-smartphone maps and calendars — desk, wall AND Day-at-a-Time — and the old-fashioned AP Stylebooks, from before online versions, whose entries illustrate two decades of change in language usage and the journalism industry.
Still, it doesn’t seem real — and it probably won’t until I turn in my key and walk out that door for the last time as an employee.
There’s so much I’ll miss, from telling the stories people trusted me with, to the office camaraderie, to my prime downtown parking space that came in especially handy during festival times.
The truth is I’m not entirely retiring. I’ll continue as editor of our Grand Traverse Scene magazine on a contract basis, pulling together the issues from my home office in Leelanau County.
So although this is so long, it’s not goodbye.
Keep in touch, friends and readers.