A Time to Retire

 

“To everything there is a season,

 A time for every purpose under heaven:”

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 NKJV

And so, the time has come to let go of a significant part of my life – one that has given me purpose, identity, fulfillment, and a sense of belonging.

The most pleasurable part of my twenty-eight years working in the Registrar’s Office of Victoria College (affectionately known as Vic) has been advising students and being a witness to their frustrations, dreams, hopes, confusions, disappointments, and their triumphs. Some came to see me to have a good cry or simply to be heard, listened to, or to be acknowledged; but others came for the pleasure of conversation, laughter and the desire to feel connected to the larger institution that is the University of Toronto.

I will miss the students’ ‘hellos’ and their smiles when I walk around campus; the interruptions to my reading at lunch time when I try to get away, sitting in Queen’s Park, and where students still find me as they cross back-and-forth on the way to lectures. Above all, I will miss the warm greetings of welcome at the student-run Caffiends, where I go mostly for the opportunity of getting a burst of energy from the affectionate reception I am given; learning about new music, books, and the meaning of current terms like ‘lit’ while I wait for my Lavender Tea Latte or a simple cup of coffee.

There have also been memorable encounters with students met by chance while on holidays as far away as London, England one New Year’s Eve, and another time in Oxford one autumn’s day; the delight of meeting each other by such serendipity making our vacations that much more memorable.

There has been laughter during my presentations of dry seminars on course and programs selection, delivered with a light touch in the hope that my jokes would put students at ease before they had even started their university studies. It has been this personal contact with students that has rejuvenated me with each passing year: being present to their lives bursting with possibility, discovery and potential; seeing in their innocent-yet-pretending-to-be-all-knowing selves, their vulnerability, fear of the unknown future, and the need for assurance and guidance.

I have also enjoyed the company of the teaching staff; professors who have shown me such kindness and humanity, engaging me in conversations and showing a side of themselves that students rarely see. Furthermore, I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful colleagues since my arrival at Vic in August of 1990. I have seen many changes in staff over the years as people moved on to positions elsewhere or retired or passed away. I remember them all and the mark they left on the college and on me. I will also miss those with whom I work presently.

Although it is the students, the professors, and the staff who bring life to Victoria College, I will also miss the physical space we inhabit: the idyllic grounds with trees and flowers for each season; and the buildings that shelter us from the distractions of the city beyond the campus. I’ve been surrounded and wrapped up in this academic institution that I have grown to love and that will always be a part of who I am.

What will life after Vic be like for me? I feel like each year’s graduating class, who leave us with both joy at their accomplishments but also with trepidation about where they are going next in the world. At the end of June, it will be my turn to go forward and explore unknown territory, curious to discover what lies ahead, even as I look back a little and feel the longing for what was.

Northrop Frye Hall, where I have spent most of my working life. I leave it now and walk towards unknown adventure…

“The Cat That Walked by Himself”

Just So stories for Little Children, Illustrated by the author Rudyard Kipling

Image from British Library postcard

 

About thetorzorean

The musings of a torontonian azorean on identity and belonging. You can find me at https://thetorzorean.com/
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23 Responses to A Time to Retire

  1. emilia junior says:

    Best wishes.
    I hope to read more posts from you – truly delightful.
    Thanks for your insightful writings and
    enjoy your new stage in life.
    Emilia

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

  2. Wanda says:

    The Vic community will not be the same without. Please keep me posted on life after Vic. I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you somewhere in this great big world.

    Like

  3. Judy Jia says:

    Emanuel, what a heartfelt and nostalgic read! Thank you for making me feel so at ease as a newbie to this enchanting space & community. I will really miss you but I look forward to hearing about your grand retirement adventures!!!

    Like

  4. Kathie says:

    You’re not retiring from work, you’re just changing jobs — to full-time author and translator! And then you’ll be able to work in your bathrobe or underwear, or in bed on a laptop, or out on the back garden patio in shorts and a T-shirt (in summer), or any place you please (even in the Azores!). Ótima sorte!

    Like

  5. P. R. Cunha says:

    Majestosos — texto e fotografias, Emanuel. Desejo-te sorte nesta nova etapa. De certeza que correrá tudo bem.

    Abraços tropicais!

    Like

  6. ilda says:

    Hi Emanuel: it was informative to read about your work experiences, and so good to know that yours was a fulfilling career. All the best for the future! Um abraço, Ilda

    Like

  7. thetorzorean says:

    Thank you, Ilda.
    Work is such an important part of our lives and if we are lucky enough to find it a rewarding experience, we should celebrate it.
    Um abraço,
    Emanuel

    Like

  8. Susan K. Riggs says:

    Emanuel, this is a beautiful and poignant tribute to your years at VIC. Your calm and cheery professionalism will be greatly missed by all your colleagues.

    I love your self-identification with the picture of the cat on his walk! Never fear…you will land on all “fours” as you proceed along that new path…. wherever it may lead…..and wherever your other 8 “lives” may take you!

    Like

  9. thetorzorean says:

    Thank you so much, Susan. I am delighted that you picked up on my identification with the cat and with your assurance that I still have 8 “lives” to go. May I come across you again in one of them.
    Emanuel

    Like

  10. Angela Prediger says:

    Dearest Emanuel,
    Having someone like you as a coworker and a good friend has been no less than a gift. It was a pleasure to work with you – your work truly made a lasting impact on our students at VIC and our colleagues in the Registrar’s Office for the better.

    Congratulations on your retirement . May you have the best and most fullfilling one. You deserve it, Emanuel.

    Like

  11. thetorzorean says:

    Thank you, Angela. One of the highlights of my time at Vic is the honour of having worked with you from the very first day I started until now. We have shared much of life’s joys and sorrows over these years and we have weathered many storms together. Your friendship, warmth, and caring personality has enriched my life as it has enriched the lives of those who will continue to work with you. May there be sunny days ahead!
    Emanuel

    Like

  12. Stephen Dow says:

    My Darling, Darling Emanuel! Welcome home!! I could not be prouder of you than I am in this moment of your life as you transition from what was to what will be. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of traveling with you on this journey. Much love, Stephen

    Like

  13. thetorzorean says:

    Meu querido Stephen,
    Obrigado for always being there with me on this journey of life we have shared together for 23 years and for embracing my Portugueseness and all that it means to me.
    Com muito amor,
    Emanuel

    Like

  14. Lylah says:

    This was such a beautiful read, thank you for sharing this with us, Emanuel! I wish I could say farewell in person, but I wish you all the best in your new “unknown adventure.” I know you will make the most of it, because that’s just what you do. It was an absolute pleasure having you as a colleague, Vic won’t be the same with out you.

    Like

  15. Neil Neebar says:

    Emanuel,
    You hired me into my first full-time position post-graduation (Erindale Class of 1999) and set the stage for my longstanding (18 years and counting) career in Registrarial and Student Services. Your patience and enthusiasm coupled with your willingness to let me try and learn new things not only prepared me with for great opportunities but also provided me with an example of what a mentor and manager should be. Thank you.

    Congratulations on your retirement and I hope your time is filled with great people, great music and of course, great food!

    Neil Neebar Victoria College, Office of the Registrar 2000-2003

    Like

    • thetorzorean says:

      Hi Neil, thank you so much for your kind words. You have always done me proud by your good work and above all your wonderful self.
      Much success with your new position. I know you will continue to soar high into always bigger and better things.
      All my best,
      Emanuel

      Like

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