Here is a story about liberation.
In 2006 I had a fairly cushy office job that I contemplated leaving in pursuit of a bohemian dream. This day three years ago, 14 July 2006, I stepped into the elevator to head home for the night and found myself facing a super-giddy guy.
We probably shared the elevator a handful of times before. He asked how my day was and I said it was fine. I asked how his fared and he replied with haste, almost as if he'd been waiting to say it: "I resigned today."
"Oh yeah?" I said. "Was that your choice or were there problems?"
He toyed with his answer a few moments before replying. "They made me some offers," he said slowly. "They wanted to make it hard for me to leave. But it was time to go." He raised his eyes to mine. "Really, I was already gone."
"Then congratulations," I said. He gave me a long look and asked if I was happy, addressing me as if we'd had a long rapport. That's one of the luxuries of knowing you'll never see somebody again.
My responses were brief; I felt pressed by the knowledge we were running out of time, but wanted to be truthful. He listened with peculiar interest.
We exited Oakland's Central Building together and walked down the same block. At a corner near BART we said good-bye. "I'll see you," he said. "Actually, I guess I won't." He half-coughed, half-laughed, and walked off without looking back.
I waved. A week later I filed for vacation time; a month after, I left for Paris. It took another year to leave for good.
Image details: Prise de la Bastille by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel.