Last night I went to a goodbye dinner for my friend Kevin. Next week he’s moving to California for a new job. Between cell phones and e-mail (and Facebook, of course), it’s not like we won’t talk after he moves. But still. Halfway across the country is halfway across the country.

I bought a card on the way there and signed it in the restaurant parking lot. After speeding – and then, remembering my recent driving record, not speeding – down the highway and navigating downtown during rush hour, I wasn’t able to come up with anything sweet and touching for the card.

Apparently it’s harder than it sounds to transition from frantic to reflective.

Four of us enjoyed a delicious dinner at a Japanese steakhouse (Why haven’t I eaten there before??) and then moved outside to the sidewalk. We spent a few minutes chatting and laughing, and then we hugged goodbye and left.

Just like that.

It was pretty much the most anticlimactic goodbye I’ve ever had.

It’s not like I needed tears and don’t forget to writes, but ending a farewell dinner like every other happy hour and lunch we’ve ever had felt wrong.

So today I’m writing my friend a letter. Because sappy, in-person goodbyes are highly overrated.

You didn’t have to return my e-mail six years ago.

And you certainly didn’t have to meet me for lunch and offer your advice on how to “break into” the public relations industry.

You didn’t have to interview – and then hire – me for the open position in your department.

And you didn’t have to teach me about clients and press releases and time management and reports and billing. You really didn’t have to teach me about billing. As in, you shouldn’t have.

You didn’t have to share your industry magazines with me, and you didn’t have to tell me about your days in “real” PR at your old agency.

You didn’t have to stand next to me when I got nervous at happy hours, and you didn’t have to hand me an empty to hold, so I didn’t stick out.

And then later, you didn’t have to forgive me for transferring out of your department.

You didn’t have to write reference letters and answer reference checks. You didn’t have to pass on job leads and listen to interview debriefs.

You didn’t have to get along with my husband, and you didn’t have to call my daughter adorable.

You didn’t have to keep in touch and go to lunch and read my blog and add me to your short list after surgery and tell me about your top-secret California interview.

You didn’t have to be my friend.

But you did, and I’m so glad. You have taught me so much about public relations, about business, about working – and for that, I’ll be forever grateful. Now, if you could only teach me how to land a swank dream job like the one you’re starting in a few days . . . !

You’ve made me laugh, you’ve listened to me whine, you’ve encouraged me and you’ve challenged me. You’re a true friend, and don’t think you’re getting out of that job description by heading west.

I can’t wait to hear all about the new job, the new home, the new life. Drive carefully. Talk to you soon.


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