A tearful farewell

Today I said goodbye to my career — at least, I said a “farewell for now” in order to take a sabbatical and attend to some personal priorities.

It’s been several months in the making.  Nevertheless, this has been an emotionally charged and entirely exhausting day.  I could not have predicted the emotional tidal wave that came over me, and cannot recall the last time that I cried so much.  But I just let the tears flow; they needed to come out.  At this point, who cares how people perceive my emotions.  The tears are a tangible testament to how much my work has meant to me, and how much the people with whom I work mean to me.  And the people … they mean a lot.

Breaking up is hard to do, but it’s even harder when it’s with a family that you appreciate, admire and love.  And Travelzoo has been a family to me.

While the outpouring of support has been positive and uplifting, that’s made it even more difficult to say farewell.  It’s crazy that it takes an event such as this for people to tell me how they really feel, and shine a light on my impact.  Some of the most surprising and sweetest had remained unspoken and unrecognized — until now.  I have been floored with the kind words and anecdotes.

It’s been a surreal week of pseudo eulogies.  Only, I’m not dead.

My supervisor had the kindest summation of them all.  Here’s the email he sent to Travelzoo North America announcing my departure:

All,

It is with great sadness that I announce that Erica Bray is leaving Travelzoo. Her final day is today, Nov. 1.

Erica has been a member of the Production team for more than six years, and has been a strong editorial voice, a shrewd negotiator, a tireless researcher, a client advocate, a problem-solver, a strategic thinker, a respected colleague, an adventurous traveler and a believer in Travelzoo’s core principle that content is king.

Most of all, she’s been a leader in the Destinations space. Erica has poured her blood, sweat and tears into the Destinations business, turning it from a side project into a free-standing vertical that has consistently been one of our fastest growing content areas over the last four years …

Erica, I want to thank you for your contributions over the years. We wish you the best of luck in the future and look forward to seeing where your next handstand will be.

Namaste,

Andrew

While I take satisfaction in going out on top and leaving a nice legacy, it breaks my heart to read this — and realize what I am leaving behind.  A part of me still questions my choice.  As much as I am trying to look ahead and focus on the wonderful things that await, the opportunities I have yet to uncover, the colorful cast of characters I have yet to meet — I cannot help but use tonight to mourn.

As Scarlett O’Hara said: Tomorrow is another day.  Hopefully tomorrow, and each day thereafter, the sting I feel now grows weaker.

Fun with colleagues in a photo booth at a global company meeting.

Travelzoo employees volunteer at the Glass Slipper Project each year.

Halloween is a big deal.

A really big deal.

A really, really big deal.

With my wonderful supervisor and mentor, Andrew, at a Travelzoo Holiday Party in Miami.

Weekend road trip to Springfield, Illinois.

Group vacation to Belize in 2009.

Co-hosting a tourism board cocktail event in New York City … dressed up in my Indian sari.

Being a “big shot” digital media maven in Washington, D.C.

Goofing around at the Travelzoo Holiday Party in Chicago (January 2013).

Ridiculously swank venue for my first Travelzoo Holiday Party in 2008 — at St. Regis in Dana Point, California.

All dolled up for the event in 2008.

We always dominated karaoke night.

And we always dominated the dance floor.

These were just a few of the many, many moments played in my mind as I walked from the Travelzoo Chicago office to my parents’ condo in Streeterville.  It was a long walk, an introspective walk, a walk where I kept my sunglasses on to hide the tears.

I am going to miss going into work each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … and spending time with this wonderful collection of people.

*sigh

 

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