My former co-worker came back from Paris and brought me a jar of tea by Pierre Hermé. It is green tea mixed with a couple of different floral notes, packaged in a lovely printed metal jar. We still meet with her from time to time for lunch in downtown San francisco. She’s always willing to come back to our office and hang out for a bit.
I think this is a very special thing. Usually, and this applies to me too, when people leave a company, they seldom go back to the office to visit. Even if you leave on very good terms, there would still be some awkward sentiments that most people would probably rather not have to deal with. But she comes back to have lunch with us almost once every month. It’s not a lunch with just a couple of people in a cafe. It’s a lunch in the office where about 10 or so people all sit around having food, talking, joking, laughing, and just generally have a good relaxing time with each other.
The job that I have is not exactly my first job, and they’re not the first company I’ve ever worked for. Before I came here, I had been a freelancer for many years. For a lot of freelancers, it is the best to “get in, get the job done, get out.” And you want to do it fast too, so that you can get the most money within the shortest amount of time. That was my mentality when I first started working for this company.
Even though I was only contracting for 3 days a week, I found that I was included in almost all the activities in the company. Someone would always come and ask me to join in for lunch, and there would always be a gift for me when people come back from vacations. We know what each others’ hobbies are, if they’re vegetarians or hate any foods from the sea, and our significant others’ names.
I tried very hard not to, but eventually I started to like my company. I knew this is just one of the many companies I’ll work for in my life, people will leave to have other jobs and one day I will too. But still, I couldn’t help it, I started to like my job, the people who I work with, like the success and also the mistakes that we make (okay maybe the success a little more). When I’m at work, I feel that I’m a person, not just a machine, and I have a strong connection with other people who work here also.
When our former co-worker comes back, she’s a person who we used to see a lot, but now we see her less often. That’s why we need to catch up with her, even if she’s had a million other jobs. She would always be a friend, not someone who does or doesn’t work here any more.
Winter is definitely here today. There were a couple of cold days in the generally pretty warm week last week, but this week started with a day that’s about 60 something degrees, fog, clouds and everything.
I really like sunny and warm days better, but I also look forward to all those things to do during the winter. Hot pot! Hot tea! Wearing a big coat waiting for a friend at a street corner in the evening, seeing the friend and hugging her at the street corner, walking with the friend down the street for some hot food!
We would go to a Japanese place, sit at the bar on high stools, sipping tea, eating ramen, or udon, or curry, and a small plate of sashimi, and sigh about the ups and downs of life. The windows would be fogged because it’s so cold outside. Street lights and car lights would blur into strings of bokehs, and the sound of some female jazz vocal would be in the air.
Whoa, did I just day dream a wintery scene there!?
Recently, maybe in the past few months or so, because of changing situations in different areas of my life, I’ve been feeling a great deal of loneliness. I have never really lived by myself in my entire life, and almost all the time, there’s someone at my side. But still, I felt this slight sense of sadness, like I am on a tiny island. I think this is the so-called loneliness, although I’m almost never alone. It’s a strange thing.
Each of us was born with ourselves and will die with ourselves. At the end of the day, as we leave this world, no matter how much we love someone or something, we are leaving alone. So I think there’s an inherent sense of loneliness in everyone no matter how outgoing and popular you might be, or how many friends and family you have. When I experience a strong sense of connection to the world, this sense of loneliness recedes and I feel happy. But when I cannot relate to the people and environment around me, it comes out shrouding me like smog, like someone had released the valve that contains the most raw and primal fear in human beings.
I hate it. It feels so sweaty, dark, and sluggish. I’m doing my best to fight against it. It will take some time, but I’m working on it.
It’s been getting dark earlier each day as the season changes from summer to fall and winter. Sometimes the day would look super nice but is actually freezing, or looking freezing but actually quite warm. Somehow, my usual outfit of tshirt, sweat shirt and jacket gets me through most situations.
One thing that has been nerve racking though is that now when I walk to the gyms from bart after work, it is already dark. That adds a lot more time which I spend walking in parts of Oakland after dark by myself. I love Oakland, but I have no illusions about it and I’m trying to be more alert and careful when I’m out there.
That said, maybe I should be grateful that bart is even running at all! The talk is still going on and the threat of strike is still looming. I stayed up so late last night waiting for the announcement that didn’t get released until 1 am, not going to do that again today!
There’s word that AC Transit is going on strike too on Thursday. Maybe this is a sign that this country is getting democratically more advanced like France or something. I’m kind of wondering what this town would be like when all the public transit systems shut down.
Maybe we will all help each other get around and feel the love of humanity… maybe??
I rushed out of the house quickly to take bart this afternoon to go to the basement, and didn’t even think of the strike until I was on the train. They had extended the deadline until Sunday and there might be a Monday strike. I really hope they would reach an agreement by Sunday night. We can’t afford to have the government shut down and public transit shut down at the same time!