Saturday, January 24, 2009

Last Day at Work

empty lemon drops

There were times earlier in my career when my job seemed to be all about drinking. As a lowly assistant who came from nothing and received a nothing paycheck, I would take advantage of any open bar or susceptible bartender I could find to keep my social life running. Eventually, I turned to drinking every night to cope with the stress of work. That was soon before layoffs put an end to my job at Atlantic.

At Razor & Tie, I entered the company as Party Girl but eventually passed the torch on to various other, younger, blonder coworkers who joined the company - some who made me look like a schoolteacher compared to their shenanigans. But when our friend Michele, who arranged all the happy hours, moved to Florida, she passed her torch as Party Planner on to me. It was a good and more authoritative role for me to take on and didn't require quite as much drinking on my part.

Over the last year or so I've been slacking. My office moved upstairs to the "quiet" floor and my job shifted away from a lot of the people I would have been social with. New employees were hired and I wouldn't meet them for weeks, months, sometimes ever. Other coworkers started planning happy hours and not inviting me, but it was OK. I probably wouldn't have gone anyway. I couldn't deal with work as it was, and when I started drinking again to cope, it was alone. I figured once I actually made it to my last day, I would simply slither away quietly, unceremoniously, without the kind of going away party that I had thrown for a number of friends who'd left work over my six years there.

Ever since I decided to leave, though, I've felt better. More social, more confident, sassier and saner. When I go to bars alone now, I don't stay alone: I'm sometimes mobbed by guys buying me wine and frozen margaritas and shots and fighting over each other to get to me. I thought it was because they could smell the neediness on me, the impending doom of unemployment and poverty, but my friends theorize that it's the weight that's been lifted off of me. I am once again open. And light. And free.

So when Vic offered to have a little bash for me after work, I thought it would be nice to go out with a (small) bang, to have a going away party of my own, even if I didn't know a lot of people anymore and only my BFFs showed up. The day was a pretty good one already, with a celebratory (though mimosa-free) brunch at Cafe Cluny in the West Village, where I received a parting gift of a framed cartoon version of myself standing outside our office building, surrounded by some of my key props (like my Dirty Dancing poster and an Easy Rock box set), under a banner that said "No Regrets" (a reference to my blog posting of the same name, but also to my whole life mantra I think). I had enough time to really say my goodbye's, to give some final words of wisdom to Julian who I'm leaving in the lurch a little bit, and to give one last look around my cleaned-out office. By 6 p.m., I was ready to drink.

We gathered at Thunder Jackson's, an "urban roadhouse" that's a relatively new addition to the neighborhood and whose only real roadhouse qualities are the weirdly upscale skirt steak skewers and the bartender girlies who spit fire, in tribute to places like Coyote Ugly, Hogs and Heifers and Red Rock West. I drank red sangria for most of the night, with the occasional scorpion bowl, lemon drop shot and jello shot. I tried to just have a good time, put the past in the past, and not dwell on my history at work. It is a time to rejoice!

We could have met for drinks at any other bar besides one on the horrible Bleecker Street strip, especially on a Friday night, but I wanted one last happy hour that felt work-related, and a location that made it convenient for people to stop by even just for a few minutes. I also had my heart set on a late dinner at Arturo's.

It was a good sendoff: core people, not too big and splashy, genuine sentiments of goodbye and good luck. I spent all day in bed recovering today but that was sort of the plan. It was a blissful hangover, and a proper end to a big chunk of my life.

I'm embarking on an unknown journey now but I'm happy, perhaps for the first time in over a year. It's about time.

For photos from my going away party, click here.