I'm sitting in the Roseville office today and tomorrow... tomorrow mostly because I'm definately not going to want to drive back home tonight. I'm up here because there's a big coordinated goodbye dinner for me tonight, and my boss managed to justify several people coming out with a project expense. They're not doing anything that couldn't be done over the phone with conferencing tools... they're really here to say goodbye to me. Wow. I told my old boss that it's "a bit much"... he said "no... it's just about right." Wow.
I just went into the conference room they're in working on said project... got a few cat calls when I walked in ("So here's the quitter!"), all in fun of course. There are people in there I've worked with for the past few years and have only seen once or twice... it took me a few minutes to recognize them (and a few had to talk first, which really shows you just how virtual our professional lives have been).
Having left, sitting here now, I'm a bit teary-eyed for the first time. The messages I've gotten in response to my "I'm leaving message" have been extremely touching... things like "Best of luck to you, Chris. Since your visit to our office over a year ago, I've been consistently impressed with your ability to quickly understand how technical considerations will impact business needs. I believe you saved many, many hours of meetings by envisioning the end product of a business idea and elaborating on the pros, cons, and hurtles of that path. It's been a pleasure to work with you." and "I thought I should write you today. I remember you interviewed me for the position in 2002. And that was the best interview I gone through ever in my life. Never felt I am giving an interview. And since then every time I have talked to you for help or suggestion you have come up with the most unique and best suggestion that anyone can give me. I never replied to anyone when they have left but truly I feel our team is at loss :)) I personally learned a lot from you and always as a developer tried to learn from you whenever possible even if you were not part of my team." make me feel good, but leave me with a sad feeling.
HP has truly been all that I've known in the professional world... it's taught me everything. To a large degree, significant portions of my actual personality have been molded by the requirements of dealing with HP... and these people have been my teachers. I have no question about the fact that it's time to move on... that opportunities like this don't just fall into your lap (though there have been few jobs that I didn't get offered on a silver platter)... but it's a bit heart-wrenching to be knowingly walking away from something that has defined such a big part of your life.