I said goodbye to my office yesterday. Literally: I closed the door for a minute, so no one could see, and gave each remaining item a small farewell.
Goodbye, chair. You have been a good and comfortable chair.
Goodbye, computer. Thanks for holding up as long as you did.
Goodbye, desk. May you last forever.
(Seriously, that desk is a giant industrial metal thing. It will last forever.)
I moved into that office three years ago, about a week before Little Boy was born, so it seemed fitting that I would be very pregnant again while moving out. The furniture had come with me from my first office, a larger shared space in the main building. That office switch had been quite the kerfuffle, the product of some rather poor decisions by our department chair, but it had worked out in the end.
After my little parting ritual, I turned all my keys into the department office, one of the last steps to being done. I submitted the final version of my dissertation to the appropriate authorities last week. My campus parking permit expired on Friday; my student health insurance ends at midnight tonight. It’ll be another week before my transcript says I’ve finished, and then goodness knows how long before they mail out the actual diploma, but at this point, I’m not a PhD student any more. I have a PhD.
Goodbyes to furniture are melancholic but easy. Goodbyes to people are much harder, especially when you’re trying to communicate how important someone has been in your life. I ended as awkward as ever, and spent the next few hours at home trying to recover from the panicky anxiety that ensued. Watching the new grad students register for classes and the established ones settling in for another year, I also got the feeling that the department was moving on without me—which of course it is, because that’s how universities work.
I won’t miss academia, but I will miss this place, if only because it was a part of my life for so long. I’ll miss my friends, many of whom have already gone off to various jobs in other states. I’ll miss, for a short bit anyway, the part of my identity that revolved around being a student.
Goodbye, graduate school.