As many of you know, and as Nora will be all too happy to remind you, I am a person of rituals. I am comforted by habit, by repetition. A habit is the paved road through the wilderness of life.
But a love of ritual makes the end of rituals all the more poignant.
At 6:15 this morning, I made my last stop at the Newbury Street Dunkin' Donuts, for my iced tea and donut. Then I walked out and gave the homeless man with the burn-melted hands the last dollar we would share.
I finished my last statistical compendium for the college. I uploaded my last file from my computer onto the server.
I shared my last hallway conversations with a couple of dozen colleagues.
I went to yet another departure drink after work. So many times we've crowded around a table at one of the Back Bay's taverns on a Friday evening, to say farewell to Jennifer and Richard and Tiffany and Andrew and Justin and Emily and Cat and Caitlyn... and now to me.
I went back to work after drinks, to finish sending files to those who would find them most useful. To write inscriptions in my books to two friends who have touched me most deeply, and leave those books on appropriate office chairs.
I turned off both monitors, the speakers, and the computer. The whole second floor — likely the entire building — was empty at 10 PM.
I put the last personal items into my wheeled bag. I took a last look to make sure I was leaving nothing behind. I took my office key off my keyring, and took my electronic pass card out of its wallet sleeve. I found an envelope, put the key and card inside, marked it and put it onto the monitor stand.
I closed my office door, then the floor's door, then the building's door, knowing each time that I had surrendered my ability to reverse those decisions. Once closed and outside, I had no access. I heard that door rattle, and then the electronic lock click, for the last time. I took my last walk from work to the parking garage, saw my last crowds of beautiful young people immersed in Back Bay socio-sexual pursuit. I paid my last parking fee, watched the gate arm swing upward for the last time. Drove eastbound on Storrow, took Exit 29 from I-93. Never again. At least not this way, not in this context. Not as this person.
Tomorrow is a day to consider nexts. Packing, phoning, planning — the future calls with boundless opportunities and delights. But tonight, I think of lasts, of rituals that can no longer be reclaimed.