My friend and co-worker recently left town. She had left her position about a month before actually hitting the road. I think that I can say that of all the wonderful folks who have filled that particular position in my department over the years, I was probably closest to her. Part of this was due to the fact that my teeny department physically moved, we moved down one floor and were completed separated from our boss. In addition to that, on our new floor we sat right next to each other, side by side. In our old digs, her desk was across a walkway from mine. It might as well of been a highway between us it was so far. This inhibited conversations to only once in a while. The proximity of our boss ensured that conversations were never about her. This was the set up for all of eternity. For all the other people who had been in that position. And then we were moved to ten. And we were right next to each other.
The close proximity and the absence of sitting next to the faux wall of our boss’ office had a direct impact on our relationship. The content of our conversations. It all changed. It also helped that there were just some things that would make us laugh ridiculously hard, like to point of snorting. Very, very ladylike.
But she has been gone now for what could be two entire months. I realized the other day that I feel very lonely without her. I miss her being there when I am there. I miss being able to call her after a particularly feisty external meeting and just debrief. I have found myself on other floors, seeking out the company of certain co-workers to chat. Very unlike me. But there I am, under the guise of looking for chocolate, trying to talk to people. I didn’t think that I would feel this lonely but I do. When you feel lonely at work, you start to think about all of the other ways in your life that you are lonely. You contemplate the place you are in at that moment. You wonder why you are not working in Brazil to assist golden lion tamarin monkeys by building a bridge that will save them from being run over by big trucks (this is a real thing: http://www.npr.org/2013/09/19/224101468/beloved-brazilian-monkey-clings-to-a-shrinking-forest). You question yourself repeatedly and find no good answers. And the loneliness grows on your skin like some weird plaque. And you wonder if there is a solution as easy as a salve to just clear it all up. And there isn’t. There is just you and your thoughts and your doubts. And there is no clear path. Just the thought to pull your head back in and carry on. Because that is the easiest thing to do. Nothing.