“The times they are a-changin’.” – Bob Dylan
I like change. Change is good. I don’t want to be the type of person that reflects back on their life and determine that they hadn’t done enough living or taken enough chances. It’s one of my greatest fears. That part of my character I’ve never questioned.
However, there is one part of my character that I’ve always questioned with interest. I have strong emotional attachments to certain physical locations that have attributed to seminal moments in my life. I know that sounds stupid because everyone has these types of feelings from time to time. What makes my emotional attachment issue unique is that I tend to personify the place. I treat that place like a person with a body, a mind, a soul, and feelings. So as you can imagine, whenever I leave a special place, I feel guilt. I feel like I’m leaving someone behind.
Case in point—as of February 27, 2016, it has been an entire year since I moved work places. Just to clarify, I never left my job. We just relocated our studio to another location. And it was an exciting move! We moved into a new studio with new everything. It felt like driving away in a new car for the first time. The new studio even had that ‘new car smell’ for months. We got new furniture, new glass walls, new technology, new open-concept workstations and a new style of working.
The entire moving process was so exciting. Everyone had a collective energy that was palpable. We had a great big open-house party at our new space for our clients, vendors, friends and family to celebrate our new beginning.
Things were good…then I started thinking about our old studio. I thought about it like I would an old friend from my childhood. It’s strange to think how only four walls, a roof, a shitty coffee maker and a Xerox machine could turn my demeanor so drastically.
Cue the nostalgia. There was a finality that overran my mind as I thought about how I would never in my life be back in that place. I think about the dark, empty and noiseless offices that were once filled with light, conversation, music and ideas. The walls of each office were decorated with vintage advertising posters. The kitchenette smelled like 10+ years of burnt coffee and Purell. And the hardwood floors made every shoe clack loader than usual, which made it easy to recognize the sound of each co-workers unique pattern of footsteps.
But not any more. Now it’s a hollow skeleton streaming with dusty rays of light peeking through half-drawn venetian blinds. Out with the old and in with the new.
Cue the guilt. It’s the same type of guilt I feel when I have to throw out a worn pair of shoes. We’ve literally traveled the world together and shared so many experiences, and after the soles wear down and the stitching comes apart I need to move on. Parting ways makes me feel so rotten and disloyal. It’s hard to put into words how intimately I personify these types of inanimate objects. In our time together, they develop a soul.
So what can I do to ease this type of loss? How do I say goodbye?
How do I say goodbye to a place where I cut my teeth for the first three years of my career? How can I explain the otherwise insignificant idiosyncrasies that made that place what it was?
Solution: Just do what you do.
Illustrate something. Something from the heart. Something that only the initiated would understand. Something that would make the average Joe shrug their shoulders, but put a goofy smirk on my co-workers face.Make it honest, make it sincere, and make it live on under my own terms. Then I know I’ll be able to let that place go and replace my guilt with adoration and respect.