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Wednesday, February 11, 2009


While preparing to be on my way to the outplacement orientation, I caught myself wandering; first to the bathroom to check my face; then to stare at the packing boxes in the dining room that hold the personal contents removed from my office last week. Next it was to the kitchen drawer for the lint brush to eradicate the ever present white cat hair, and back to the bathroom to grab a tissue for my pocket. After that, looking around for what to bring to the meeting, I returned to the boxes and peered in. Blackberry? No--mailed that back yesterday. Folders filled with company literature? Left those back at the office. Business cards? No longer current. Franklin Planner? Nope. The black canvas bag that has doubled as a briefcase for the last several years? What for? Settling on my purse, a portfolio and, because the old Girl Scout in me never dies, two pens, I walked out the door feeling naked.

Who needs Weight Watchers? I have been stripped of the accessories of my former life and if I stood on a scale before climbing into the car, the number would have come up ten pounds lighter. Regardless of my aimless wandering earlier, I didn’t feel particularly nervous going to this meeting. I was less stressed than on some recent days driving the short commute to work, and in fact so much less that I forgot to notice the driveway to my former company as I passed it.

In some part due to a latent control-freak gene as well as those past Girl Scout days, it is imperative for me to be early to any meeting. All the same, as I approached the Fore River drawbridge that habitually goes up at the most inopportune moment; rather than saying fierce prayers that it would stay down, I thought idly: Gee, it will be a bummer if it goes up today. It didn’t, but about a mile down the road, I got stuck in traffic anyway, speeding ambulances and blaring sirens evidence of some kind of accident. While sitting at the same red light for the fifth cycle, I mused that the meeting may well end up starting without me, and shrugged.

After pulling into the parking lot with about a minute to spare, I applied lipstick and chuckled. It appears that I can leave my house without the accoutrements of my former career, but lipstick is non-negotiable. Apart from that little bit of makeup though, I stepped into my outplacement orientation aware that they were meeting the bare bones of me, whittled down and smooth as a stone. Taking a deep breath, I introduced the person that I really am--the one who carries simple tools, a portfolio for writing and two pens--the one who has been standing in the wings, hoping to go on for most of these last twenty three years.

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