The conversation with my chair went exceedingly well. He was relieved, supportive, and even gung-ho about facilitating a transition into administration. He promised that the timing of my decision to opt-out had earned me lots of goodwill from the department, that he would be happy to write a fabulous letter of recommendation, and was concerned about preserving my dignity within my (friendly) department. It looks like I have two years in place here—I think that may need to be formalized with the head honchos, but he seemed fine with that thinking.
So I went to the river, since it’s 90-some here, and had a swim. (Delayed by taking the freeway, which I don’t normally do, but it’s easier to be a happy car-dancing driver at higher speeds, and got totally confused about how to get there.)
And I even checked off the first of many individual conversations with my colleagues, starting with the person who pushed hardest for me in the hiring room six years ago. Who was gobsmacked but said “you seem much happier than you have been all year.” Incidentally, I was a second-choice hire, which is very much relieving my mind at present. The way I see it, rather than gambling on me (a good fit) over the publishing star, and now feeling as though that gamble didn’t pay off and thinking “had we only….”, my department knows that they tried to get the publishing star, lost him to (multiple) better offers, and can better appreciate the contributions that I did make over the last years (I have never been silent in faculty meetings).
So, yeah. Many thanks to all for the comments, interest, and support. Not done blogging this yet, but one big step taken.