I could tell you that I took an intentional hiatus from writing. I could tell you that my absence was purposeful and planned. But I am not in the habit of lying. Avoiding the truth, Yes… downright lies, No.
Everything I jotted down in the last few months seemed sappy and self indulgent. I was lifted one day and down trodden the next. I figured no one would want to read all that.
The truth is that I retired from the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) on August 12, 2017. When I went to the CALPers (CA. Public Employees Retirement System) office and signed my retirement papers in May, I was both excited and scared as sh$t. I hate to admit it but since 1994, policing had defined so much of me. It has reshaped my compassion and challenged my politics. During many long nights, it has consumed my thoughts while reinvigorating old wounds.
I say that I couldn’t have asked for a better last day at work. That is not a lie. The shift was simple and sweet and full of exquisite surprises. It is truly the little things that mean the most to me.
I think I did it right. I had a few months to plan. I had a few months to process emotionally. I had a few months to savor time with colleagues and my team. I had a few months to shed myself of so much “stuff”.
During the final months, I reminisced about reading and following the book, “The Art of Tidying”. I started with my desk drawers in the Patrol Sergeants’ office. I created a Free Box and started dumping useable things in it…flashlights, office supplies, swag from other departments, conference lanyards and business cards. I held each item. Does it spark joy? Ahhh a sticker from a tactical gear company. Hmmm, does this spark joy? Naw, not so much. I put it in the Free Box.
One by one, I held the contents of my top drawer. Some conjured memories of years past, of accomplishments, the ups and downs of my career and of opportunities lost. Occasionally as I sat with stuff scattered on my desk, I would laugh out loud or tears would burn in the corners of my eyes. The passage of time is tough.