How does one leave a job after years and years – whether by choice, victim of circumstance, company restructuring or – as was my department’s case – outsourcing to Poland – and not break down into tears? Especially when parting from coworkers who became my friends and my extended family?
Easy answer – one doesn’t.
A week ago today, October 31st, my 17-year tenure at Viacom/Mtv Networks came to an end. We were given the end date back in May, and there was an optional one month extension, which I took. But that didn’t halt the tsunami of tears.
To fully encapsulate my tenure here would require an eternal scroll, replete with superlatives and hosannas, expletives and diatribes, but most importantly, endlessly joyful memories.
It’s been quite the ride.
Picture it…Times Square, July 2001. No street performers begging for a photo, no street dancers clogging the walkways, no expanded sidewalks to accommodate even more tourists to frustrate your every movement. Toys-R-Us and Virgin Megastore are bustling with multitudes of shoppers; TRL is still clogging the streets between 44th and 45th with throngs of teenagers (and more than one adult coworker) eager to see their favorite boy band or pop princess. Social media is still in the future (remember Friendster? A year away. MySpace? Two.). CDs are selling by the multimillions, while people just started learning to share/steal music via Napster and Kazaa . iTunes Media is still fresh, the iTunes store a few years away, and the first iPod will be introduced in a few months. People don’t walk down the streets in a perpetual glaze, glaring at their phones. Premium concert tickets are an “astronomical” $150, you don’t have to mortgage your home to see a Broadway musical, “Law & Order: SVU” is only two years old, and “Survivor” begets the pollution of Reality TV to our airwaves. Fascism is not an accepted American way of life, and Reality TV clowns don’t become treasonous, traitorous presidents.
I was working at the now-defunct Sony Music Studios for six or so years, and when my friend and co-worker was co-opted by Mtv to run its own internal dubbing/editing facility (the dearly departed E.R., as it was called) in April, she brought along few of her favorite dependable coworkers over the period of the next few months. Weeks before 9/11 changed the world, I was one of them. (Now, only a scant few are left, a small part of MTVs ever-fluctuating history.)
Life was altered with that career change, and for the better. I finally was employed at a job that offered vacation days, sick days, and holidays! That alone was foreign to me. And I learned the intricacies of the TV and media business and received an unparalleled education without ever going to college.
And I worked with those aforementioned coworkers who became my friends and my extended family.
The one true beauty of this almost two decade sojourn – what I was, and am, most grateful for upon my evanescence from the corridors of MTV Networks – are those coworkers…those lifelong friends I’ve loved and love, and the memories we will always share – the laughing during the most jubilant of times, the weeping through the saddest; the steadfast belief in teamwork and the importance of camaraderie. I was – and will remain – proud to watch them succeed and thrive, honored to be there when they married, as their children grew up, and humbled living through each fragment of their lives, while we all, as a family, navigated through the pleasures and the pains, the loves and the heartaches, the frustrations and triumphs, the unfortunate lows and the indisputable highs.
So, after all those many years, last week I walked through those revolving doors of 1515 Broadway that have spun millions of rotations…one last time. Into the indefinite, into the frightening unknown; fraught with the hesitation of the mysterious and uncertainty, but enticed and excited at the possibility of reinvention and reinvigoration.
And…I will miss it all. I will miss you all. Indubitably.
I hope your heart’s not broken
Don’t forget me…
Yes I was outspoken
You were with me all the time…
And I’ll be with you one day…
~ Stevie Nicks “The Tower/Goodbye Baby”
PS: How wonderful we live in the age of social media, though. For every ill that pervades Facebook, Instagram, etc there is an equal, or greater, saturation of love – knowing we are all just a mouse click, or a phone-screen tap, away. I know it doesn’t diminish the sadness of the leaving, but it’s the next best thing.
And I leave with the knowledge that…we are forever. To quote E.T., “I’ll be right here…”