The Fog of Sadness

I know the fog of sadness will come. The knowing doesn’t make it any easier when it arrives.

It’s happened every year for the past five years. Sometimes it sets in the afternoon I arrive home, like today. Sometimes it sets in after I wake up from the post trip nap (last year’s “nap” was 18 hours long, due to sheer exhaustion from too much fun).

This year our annual all company meetup was held in Park City, Utah, and more than 250 people attended. This is a highlight of the year, because it’s often the only time that I’ll see many of my co-workers. We’re a distributed company, and everyone’s primary workspace is their home office. Oh, did I mention we have folks in thirty-five countries around the world? We’re really spread out. It’s a whirlwind of a week – learning at internally led code academy classes; project teams launching new features or improving on existing ones; dinners with colleagues you haven’t met; catching up with your mentor/mentee; attending (or leading) workshops on design, diversity, and leadership; and, of course, a healthy dose of fun.

I love this week of the year because of the camaraderie and bonding that occurs. I love listening to the discussions among colleagues, and hearing ideas, concerns, and solutions in their own voices. I love discovering who can sing 90’s karaoke without the words on a screen. Or who has a special interest in biology. Or who has a special talent for creating their own personalized lyrics to popular songs. Or what past companies (many outside of technology) my colleagues have worked at. Or who was a former competitive food eater. The variety of my colleague’s experiences and backgrounds awe me.

My favorite memories are the meals, and the moments. Dinners were generally groups of 4 – 6 people. The perfect size for intimate conversation. For learning who someone’s favorite author is, and why. For getting book recommendations. For hearing about people’s travel. For sharing stories from childhood. For hearing about someone’s first trip to Burning Man. For learning what excites them about their job, and what frustrates them.

This morning was filled with so many hugs (and maybe a tear or two). I told myself that I was looking forward to returning home. To my own bed (although the sleep I got in the silence of the Park City night was the best I may have ever experienced). To regular exercise and home cooking. To the routine of my everyday life. And I was looking forward to that. And even though I knew I would miss my colleagues (it’s happened every time I return from a trip), the weight of the fog of sadness still surprises me when it descends.

I read their blogs. I like their Facebook posts. I retweet their Tweets. And I miss them.