As you'll know from last time, I'm counting down the days until we leave the first home we had together, which we've lived in for just shy of seven years, before we move to the west coast of Scotland. I've been so excited about the move - and still am. The opportunity to write up in such a beautiful place has been my light at the end of the tunnel for months. But, as with all things, the start of something new means the end of something else.
This week is my last week in the department. My last ever Monday sitting at this desk, looking out the window across the city, thinking about coffee time at 11am. This is the last 'first day of the week' in what has been my home from home for the last three years. I never thought I'd be sad about getting over a Monday, but today is teaching me the meaning of 'bittersweet'.
At many points in my PhD, I've imagined what it would feel like to finish. In truth, I've still got a way to go before I get to that point, but this could definitely be considered the beginning of the end. I'm aware that sounds awfully dramatic. It's hard not to be, though. When you get to this point in your doctorate, you have invested so many hours, so much hard work, so many tears and tantrums and highs and lows that it feels like a much bigger component of your life than almost anything else. I've left things before - school, jobs, my undergraduate degree - but nothing has felt like this. The combination of excitement and happiness with a little bit a sadness and a sense of loss.
Although there will be times where I'll be back in the department for the odd meeting, or most notably my viva, it won't be the same. Someone else will be living in my office, cursing statistics and complicated journal articles that make no sense. The friends that I have 'grown up with' through my PhD will most likely be gone, or job hunting, or moved away. There will be new faces that I don't know, and have never met. I will have missed important events, birthdays, nights out and impromptu lunches with drinks.
Of course, I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. Life moves on and I am truly excited about my next adventure. The Boy and I are entering a new era as 'grown ups' (or at least pretend grown ups). There are certainly many aspects I won't miss. But then, even with those most awful, heart-wrenching days in mind, I would still do it all again. I don't know where I'll end up, or what I'll be doing. Academia is a tricky job market and at the moment I don't know if I have the persistence to chase a career in it. But I'll be doing something. And no one can take away from me the experiences I've had here.
I am going to miss this place. This place where I have laughed and cried and cursed the sky, where I have eaten cake and drunk wine and shared both the good times and the bad. This place that has shaped me, molded me, tested me. This place that still has a few tests in store for me yet. I will miss these people who I have been on this ride with. I will miss this time in my life where for a short while, everything seems possible and the opportunities before us seem exponential. And I will always be thankful for this place. For this time. For these people. They will stay with me always.