As I begin to pack up my lovely little office, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. I found myself this week taking panoramic photos. I was standing there with the door closed because I looked so silly, using my newly discovered iPhone camera feature to slowly pan the room, trying to capture it all. I have four lamps in my office, which creates a “boudoir” setting as my manager, Kim, likes to call it. I hate those buzzing overhead lights, so I created a soft vignette for my work life. It’s a bit surreal when juxtaposed to what my colleagues and I do every day, which is to keep the lights on, so to speak, in the world of IT.

At times, I’ve felt like Lucy van Pelt in that office – the Doctor is Real In. Only my generation would even get that reference! My work colleagues have been in those chairs many times pouring out their hearts while I sit on the other side of my desk and listen, or vice versa. The setting is more like a therapist office than an IT Director. How did I wind up in IT for 23 years? A progression I guess. A career is simply a journey. I didn’t even major in “Information Technology” or “Computer Science”. I majored in Finance, but I was always drawn to the technology side of everything I did, and so it evolved. The accidental programmer! But I’ve had a lot of fun and accomplishment in this crazy, mixed-up world called IT. I want to write a book about it, a Greek comedy of course, and tragically funny.

At home, things have been more chaotic as we prepare to leave, mostly of my own doing. My mania on leaving our cat, Nigel, for four months has had me fraught with anxiety. Every day, I look at him and I think, how do I convey to you that it’s only for a little while? We’re not abandoning you. I know you will think you’ve been abandoned, but we’ll be back. Have faith!

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Nigel is 14 and he’s only ever known this house, and us. He’s pampered and very much loved. Friends have coached me of course. Cats don’t understand time; it won’t seem that long to him; he doesn’t have the emotions you have; he’ll be fine. I know they’re right, but it’s still very hard to leave him. I’m so grateful that Sarah has agreed to stay with him, and I know that my darling friends, Cheryl and Cindy, will be there to help her along the way, as will our girls, who each have their own furry felines, but will stop by to visit their little brother.

My other great love, my Siamese cat named India, lived until she was 16 years old, moving with me all over the place. She was with me for my first big leaving, when I left my home in Missouri for my great adventure in North Carolina.  She traveled from Missouri to North Carolina and back, and lived in countless apartments along the way, with a multitude of roommates, and even other cats.

I moved there after college with my friend Sharon, whom I met as a waitress at Haden House. Within three weeks of arriving in Durham, she met a handsome marine, who was to become the love of her life, and her husband. That left me a bit stranded in a foreign place, so I had to reach out and make friends. Some of the greatest friends in my life are from that era. Rose Anne and I are twin daughters of different mothers, so in sync and so full of symmetry are we. Ginger is the salt of the earth, her name very fitting to her personality, a lovely, warm spice of a woman. Lisa Lou, with whom I bonded over a Series 7 exam, white water rafting, and countless conversations!

As I’m preparing to leave my work friends, I know how much I will miss them. I’m surrounded by Kim’s on both sides of my office, and I adore them, which is funny because the very best friend of my life, from my childhood, is a Kim. But I also know I will carry their friendship with me as I move forward on my next journey.

So, as I madly clean out closets and organize my house before leaving, I am profoundly grateful to ALL of the women, friends and sisters, in my life’s journey, who have been such a great source of friendship, comfort, and laughter that has split my sides. How lucky I’ve been!

Lorie McMillin, Rolla MO, July 2013