Confessions of a quitting quarter-lifer

In the early days of our friendship, fellow Maine Woman Angelique Carson would leave me curious voicemails. After not speaking for what she thought was an unacceptable amount of time, she would sing “End of the Road,” by Boyz II Men, into my voicemail as a musical signal that it was time to reconnect.

I thought of her for this last column; that memory describes my feeling as I write my Quarterlife Lessons column’s swan song.

My perfect last column would include a musical reference to saying goodbye, more specifically, expressed in the words and harmonies of the best vocal stylists my ears have ever known, Boyz II Men. (Can we all agree that they are definitely just men and have been for a few decades?)

Boyz II Men explained that coming “to the end of the road is unnatural.” Oh, but in this case, “Men,” it’s natural.

You see, I am the world’s oldest quarter-lifer. Don’t want to spoil anything, but this means I could be the oldest living person in 2100 when I live to 117. Congratulate me and shower me with gifts when you see me on the street, like the woman who finds Jesus Christ or Mary Magdalene in her toast.

My column’s series finale would also have to be on par with the best TV ending of all time, HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” and must be substantially better than the worst series finale of all time and my second-favorite show, Showtime’s “Dexter.” More than a musical reference that articulates my feelings on saying goodbye better than I could or equates my swan song as a good or bad TV ending, this last column would most importantly talk about the featured players in my life as a columnist for nearly four years and as a graphic designer at Current Publishing for seven and a half.

For me, the experience can be summarized in one simple thought:

Thank you, Maine Women, the magazine and the ladies who shared their stories.

Thank you to the Maine Women at Current Publishing who molded me into the professional I am today. Lee Hews, Jane P. Lord and Kate Audette are a few of the many women I worked with for seven-and-a-half years. They made me the best graphic designer I could be and a top-notch paginator. They taught me everything about newspapering, persistence and perfection under pressure as the clock ticked closer to deadline.

Thank you to Leslie Bridgers, former Quarterlife Lessons writer and dear friend. She paved the way and I will always be grateful for her professional advice and friendship.

Thank you to the new faces and stories shared through Maine Women and this column; I always viewed people’s time and their stories as a gift and a privilege, never an obligation.

Thank you to my friends before and throughout my time writing for Maine Women, like Angelique. She left her home cities of Portland/South Portland for the bright lights and big city of Portsmouth. She moved to a new place, with a new job and not long after, suddenly lost her father. She continues to press on and support those around her. A loyal friend who is incredibly funny, she has become the picture of health and completed her first half marathon last fall. My heart and soul swell with pride when I think of all she has and will accomplish.

Most importantly, thank you to the Maine Women in my family. They supported me by being interview subjects and persnickety proofreaders. This column would be nowhere without Grammy Bell and Vicky, who could be counted on to read what I wrote even when I was sure no one else cared. I found the column also could comfort me, like it did this summer when I lost my Aunt Debbie to colon cancer. At her funeral, her friends shared with me how proud she was of me and this column, and would often pass it along to her friends. I was happy my time writing made her and the rest of my family proud.

I grew as a writer and a woman with the invaluable experience I gained and I couldn’t be more grateful. The time has come, the walrus said, and it’s time for another Maine Woman to speak for the next generation.

And she better know who the hell Boyz II Men are.

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