The Last of Every Little Thing

Milwaukee Art Museum
Milwaukee Art Museum

Tomorrow is my last day of work. This day, above probably anything else, is the finale of my life here. In this sweet little city of Milwaukee.

Although this is my third cross-country move, I’ll tell you something. It doesn’t make it any easier.

Excitement for a daring adventure veers sharply into bittersweet. Every place, every face, every little thing that I’ve known for the past handful of years molds reluctantly into a memory…the lasts.

The last time I will walk the familiar route to work, turning up my music to cover the traffic noise and glancing quickly down that one alley to avoid being run over by a delivery truck.

The last time I will smile at the security guard at work who says “Good Morning” in his sing-song voice like he’s part of a Barbershop Quartet. Maybe he is on the side. I don’t even know his name.

The last time I will buy a small latte from Carmen at the corner cafe. She’s always smiling, because she’s one of those rare people who enjoys her job and her life.

The last time I will walk the endless hallways of my office, passing people I know and will never see again, and those I don’t know and will never know.

The last time I will swipe my badge at an entrance before I surrender it forever. Even with that silly picture on it, I will miss it. It was the one accessory I always had to wear, my identification with a place I spent more time in than I did at home.

Each day has been filled with lasts. With amazing friends and family in some of our most beloved places in the city.

Nearly five years ago I moved to Milwaukee without ever having seen it before. What I will remember most about coming here was how lost I was at the time.

And through that confusion, I found myself.

I began teaching dance again, then later, through a life-changing emotional and physical test, I obtained my Yoga certification. And finally, after hiding from it all of those years, I had the courage to become a writer.

Even though I was a foreigner in a strange land, I always felt welcomed by the community here. That comfort allowed me to return to who I wanted to be at my core.

There are a few more days of lasts to endure, and they will be the most trying of them all as we say goodbye to those closest to our hearts.

But, the firsts will be coming very soon. And though they cannot replace the lasts, they will open our eyes to different experiences.

We will grow, we will love, and we will live through it all.

32 thoughts on “The Last of Every Little Thing

  1. Excellent Britt, post. Best of luck to you in your new home. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some wonderful lasts there as well. Or perhaps some permanent firsts.

  2. You’ve beautifully conveyed the bittersweet emotions that come when we pack up and leave a place we’ve called home. Thank goodness for memories. They help us get through the next chapter’s beginning.

    1. Thanks, hon! I was crying like a baby when I reread it, not realizing how emotional all of those little things could be. It’s been good to take some time to cherish the people and places around me. Very important step before the next chapter.

  3. I was starting to tear up as I was reading this. For whatever reason, I love endings, or lasts. Maybe I like that I’m leaving responsibilities behind (sometimes that period in between leaving work and starting a new job is bliss), but I mostly like how endings provide a time to notice all of those little things you mentioned and to finally appreciate them. I wish that I could live like that more often–noticing things and appreciating them more while I’m in the middle of an experience. It’s something to think about, for sure. At least I was able to appreciate your last yoga class here yesterday. You will be missed, but I can’t wait to read about your new adventures. Good luck with the move!
    I wrote about endings before I left GB to move to Milwaukee:

    1. Agreed. So often, hell..too often, we get so caught up in the grind that we forget to stop and appreciate all of those magnificent little things. It is definitely something to think about.

      Yoga has helped me so much with taking time for reflection. Before that I can only describe my life as a runaway train.

      I will miss you so much, Laura. I hope that you continue practicing one way or another. It was an honor being your teacher.

  4. Milwaukee’s loss will be Portland’s gain, that’s for sure. In a way it will be quite nice to think of the guard, and the coffee lady, saying ‘Hey, where’d she go?’ so I guess you won’t be forgotten.

    1. Aw, thanks for saying that, Roy. I did tell the coffee lady that I was going and we had a moment from across the counter. Interesting how even the smallest interactions can impact us.

  5. Very well said, obviously something I can relate to. The lasts are hard, and some of the firsts and ongoings…but what is life without challenge, buen viage Britt.

  6. You will always make the best of wherever you are. Life is an adventure. Where are you going? I missed that email. Meredith

  7. It’s funny how people become such a fixture in our lives. We’re so used to seeing them and saying hello or whatever routine we have with them. I’m sure the security guard and Carmen will feel your absence in their morning routine. I used to talk about the weather with the campus building maintenance man on my way to class for a year until he retired without my knowledge. I missed our 3 minutes conversations, haha!

    1. Isn’t it, though? Sadly, we don’t really think too much of it until the lasts happen upon us. But I suppose that’s the sweet melancholy of life. I was able to say goodbye properly to Carmen yesterday when she made my final latte. I couldn’t leave without telling her.

      It’s too bad when people drop suddenly out of our lives. I’ve had that happen with bloggers, too, and their presence missing from my life totally affected me. (P.S. Don’t you dare leave the blogosphere…ever.)

  8. I like how you appreciate your time and growth in Milwaukee. You found importance in the very smallest of routines, habits, expectations, faces, places. Even though you’re leaving, you are undoubtedly taking pieces of Milwaukee with you.

    1. I think the smallness of Milwaukee really allowed me to calm down and explore the important things. This quaint gem of a town will always have a dear place in my heart…absolutely.

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