Two hours. That is all the time I have left in my contract with the MSA Museum Society. The minutes are ticking, the second hand is winding down and I am honestly at a loss for what to post.
I have never been one for goodbyes; in fact I usually go out of my way to avoid saying them. I never know what to say and they always leave me feeling a deep, inner kind of sadness. This is no different, but this is a goodbye I must say.
When I first started here last summer, I was a relatively shy and quiet kid who was blissfully going about her BA (well, about as blissfully as you can go about a BA, anyways), transiently going from class to class while working through her History major. Lacking a sense of inner direction and possessing a kind of transience with regard to career goals, I was in that awkward phase that saw me ducking and running for the refreshment table at functions whenever well-meaning people brought up the one question that will make university students tremble – “What are you going to do with that once you graduate?”. I stressed over giving tours, was generally clueless when it came to collections care and overall was just young.
Fast forward to now. I’m a little less quiet, way less shy and much closer to finishing my BA. Now, it may be true that I still do not know what exactly I want to do in life (at this point, it may come down to pulling straws…), but I know, at least after spending these summers here that I am at least in the right domain. Will it be graduate school? Will it be collections work? Will it be something else? I honestly do not know. But after working countless hours down at the warehouse, inventorying and discovering the collection, helping to restore artifacts and properly store artifacts and, while in the office, generally just sharing the history of Abbotsford with Abbotsford, I can whole-heartedly tell you that the work I have done here has been some of the most deeply gratifying of my life thus far. There is something so wonderful in telling someone from Abbotsford something that they did not know about Abbotsford and watching that sense of wonder and amazement come alive in their eyes, leaving me knowing that I had the opportunity to alter how they see the world. You walk away from those encounters knowing that you made a difference.
For this to have all happened, I owe many thanks to the ladies here at the museum, above all Christina. Under her guidance, I learned how to work the catalogue, how to deal with the problems that came up along the way and how to fix and restore artifacts if the need arose. She taught me how to become semi-proficient at 1920s IT support and generally allowed me to grow professionally and personally in ways that I didn’t even dream possible at the beginning of the summer. While I did not work directly under Anneleen, I learned to appreciate the intricacies of archival work and I always appreciated her wicked sense of sarcastic humour. From Dorothy and Shannon, I learned the many intricacies of office work – something I was inherently and incredibly clueless about when I first entered this office – and they have helped me realize and appreciate the sheer amount of work that goes into keeping an office functional. I have had some of the best laughs with these ladies and I can honestly say that my life has been deeply changed from having met all four of them. Thank you ladies and know that you have made a difference.
I am also deeply indebted to my fellow students, Sara and Sarah. I have learnt so much from both – Sara might be the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to clothing and has such a deep breadth of knowledge when it comes to computers (she’s a wizard, honestly!) and Sarah might just be the most professional, worldly and organized person I have ever met. I have learned many things from both, including sharpening up my Photoshop skills and learning how to cast-on while knitting and both regularly made me laugh so hard that, at times, I have been on the verge of tears. I will miss them both and I am better off for having worked with them. Thank you both.
And finally, thank you Abbotsfordians! I have had the time of my life working here and sharing stories with you. You have been more than graceful and it has been an utmost pleasure getting to know you all!
Thanks, cheers and signing off for the last time,