"Yogaloy, Guru got your note."
It was Ashrita. He was referring to the note I had passed to Lavanya at the end of Wednesday night meditation less than an hour earlier.
"Guru gives you his love and blessings," Ashrita continued. "He doesn't want you to leave the Center, but he's grateful to you for bringing your brother and sister to the path, and he gives you all his love."
After thanking Ashrita, I hung up.
Jeevan was there with me. I don't remember why he was in town, but he stayed with me at Trishatur's place. After Ashrita's call, Jeevan and I walked over to Annam Brahma for dinner before it closed.
I hadn't yet told Jeevan about my plan to leave, so he was kind of down as I explained myself on our walk over to the restaurant. Thankfully, he seemed to accept the idea that I'd made up my mind. "It's a burning fire out there," he said, referring to wider world.
The next day at work, a disciple who had apparently been at Guru's house the previous evening approached me conspiratorially and asked me what my plans were. Obviously, the fact that I was leaving the Center had been a topic of conversation and was now common knowledge amongst the house-goers.
While I had been mustering up the courage to go into the front office at Victory Factory and tell Sudhir that I'd be leaving in a week, I hadn't yet done so. But now that the secret was out, I realized that if I didn't give my notice immediately, then Sudhir and Abedan (and the others in the shop) would hear it through the grapevine. I didn't want that.
Learning to stand up and face the music was probably the most important lesson I learned in my last year in the Center, and part of that would be telling my friends to their faces that I was leaving the path.
I was worried how folks would react and was pleasantly surprised when a small group of guys -- Sudhir, Sundar, Shambhu, Trishatur, and a few others invited me to a "last supper" of sorts. My plane was to leave on a Thursday, so we all went out to eat after the next Wednesday night meditation, which I decided to skip.
We went to Pizzeria Uno's in Forrest Hills. The guys were very generous in spirit. I'll never forget that send off -- it meant so much to me.
It was past 11 p.m. when I got home, so I was surprised to hear the phone ring. It was Tejiyan, who had apparently not gotten the word earlier about my imminent departure or about the last supper. "Were you just going to leave without saying goodbye," he asked.
A few minutes later, Tejiyan picked me up and we went over to Lucille's diner to chat.