This is the second time in only six months. I’m taken aback, quite frankly.
Today was my last day at the pizza place where I’ve been working since August or so. I’ve been working since I was twelve, spanning about twenty different workplaces, and this is the first time I’ve ever been legitimately sad to leave a job. Keep in mind, before this I’ve watched friends go off to college, had friends simply stop picking their phones up, grown apart from people, been laid off, been fired, etc. I’ve left jobs congenially (with broken promises to keep up on Facebook), left clubs suddenly and gradually, given a month’s notice out of utter exhaustion, and even walked out of one job with no warning at all (the strip club) when I realized—suddenly and apropos of nothing—I was shit out of patience. So I know what loss feels like.
This is different. The pizza place was the only time in my life where I’ve ever felt like I was breaking up with my whole tribe all at once. There are a bunch of people there I don’t know, some I barely know, some who barely knew how to say “hi” in English…but there were also several I connected with in ways I didn’t know it was possible for such cynical old people to still attain. But it’s more than that. More than anything, I had a place there where I belonged. I could show up every day and know I was scheduled to work the slap station because for some reason my autism gives me a preternatural talent for kneading pizza dough. So I’d slap for ten hours straight sometimes, tired but happily occupied, alternately shouting awful jokes back and forth with the old timers and daydreaming. Sometimes a new kid would ask “why is that guy always writing on receipt paper?” and they’d say “That’s just Aeoli, he’s writing notes for his crazy blog. He’s some kind of genius or something but he’s okay.”
I know this is a bit self-indulgent so I won’t go on much longer, but the point is that I finally understand the feeling in those high school movies where the gang breaks up at the end. It’s a mix of nostalgia and deja vu for something that hasn’t even happened yet, where you’re looking around and thinking you’ll never see these people all together in this place again, and you already miss it so bad that it hurts in parts of your brain you thought had rotted away when your balls dropped. In a sane world I’d stay here and live happily ever after, making pizzas until it went out of style. But that would be disrespectful to my longsuffering parents, and with 60k in student loans squatting on my back it’s not even an option. Thus, our hero returns to Michigan, the land of his birth, to fight the rampaging dragons and seek his fortune.
So, my gut still says “Fuck this gay earth and you can all burn in Hell”, but there are times I guess it’s okay. I’ll really miss you guys down in Godforsaken Indiana :-).