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End of an era

Tuesday night was the last event of the season for the Boston Chapter of NIRI.  This,  our annual year-end social gathering, was also my last official duties as president of the chapter. Every time I don the mantle of my old life and drive down the hills to the city for a meeting, I am less and less inclined to go back to life in that fast lane.
The party was held in Faueuil Hall at the Hard Rock Café in Boston.  I left the house at 4pm expecting that two hours was more than enough at that time of day to make it into the city before the 6pm start.  Traffic was crawling north as I zipped along South.  I was doing just fine until I hit the tunnel in the heart of the city.  Like fish in a net, the school of assorted vehicles came to a standstill.  I heard sirens and saw lights behind me.  Police and ambulances were attempting to get through the choke in the tunnel. 
I arrived late, parked the truck (always exciting as it just barely fits height-wise in parking garages) and hurried to the restaurant.  This event generally has a good turnout and this year was no exception with seventy-seven responses.  The party was in full swing when I arrived.  Music blared onto the sidewalk, tourists were hovering by the door and familiar faces greeted me. 
An integral part of the celebration is the awards ceremony.  The organization recognizes individuals for their years of membership; five year, ten year and lifetime achievement awards are presented.  We introduce the new president and board members; and give formal thanks to outgoing officers.  Traditionally, the outgoing president is presented with a Gurgling Cod Jug. 
The awards themselves are Lucite “tomb stones”; dust collecting paperweights that join the others used in the corporate world to commemorate things like initial public offerings or secondary offerings of company stock.  I have a box full of such items from my former office.  You can’t even pawn them off at a yard sale.  Like the fading horse show ribbons that hanging in my tack room, they hold meaning only for the recipient. 
It was with some petty disappointment that I received, not the useful Gurgling Cod Jug, but a heavy glass award.  The night wore on and the festivities start to wane.  Around 9pm I packed up my bag and lugged the award back across the cobblestone square toward the parking garage.  A woman stopped me, seeking directions.  I placed the box and my purse on a granite post as I helped her, and took the opportunity to change from my high-heels to flip-flops.  It wasn’t until I was well out of the city driving north that I realized I had picked up my bag but left the box with my glass trophy on the post. 

I considered turning back then admitted to myself that the actual gift meant less to me than the experience and people my term as president had provided.  That chapter of my life is over and I am richer for what it has taught me. 
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