I’m sure things are going to turn out OK whatever happens, but the thing is I don’t know what they’re going to look like. I want to know exactly where I will be in January, and I can’t possibly know. I don’t suppose I am the only person who wants to know, everyone has been talking about it in the office all week. We are really in a strange position, all of us in the department, being made to wait for answers like this. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of resentment at the mass redundancy, in fact most people seem to want to be set free, they’re just waiting for December when the fact is that most of us will be out of a job by then.
I am ambivalent at the moment. On Monday I was infuriated by it all: I thought I’d made a mistake in putting myself up for one of the new jobs, when I could have taken the redundancy money and run. Now I am not sure what the best outcome will be. If I get made redundant I can go to France and spend a month immersing myself in the language and culture, however I will have to come back in February and put myself through the job hunt again. If I get one of the new jobs then I won’t be able to live the dream in France for a month, but I’ll have a secure permanent job again and it won’t be anything like the previous job.
The weekend provided a brief distraction when P brought me to a free local jazz festival. It was pretty amazing; thousands of people had gathered in what used to be a derelict wasteland and I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would have been like on a Saturday night in the 80’s. Cold, dark, lifeless, probably quite dangerous. In 2014 it appears to have been designated as the home of culture in this part of London. For a few hours we danced to motown hits from a 60’s and 70’s cover band who had the talent thing nailed. I hadn’t expected to have so much fun, especially two days before my unwanted return to work. Coming home there was a distinct end of holidays feeling to it all, though, which was probably inevitable. Like when you’re ten and you’re coming back from the beach on a Sunday afternoon with buckets and spades in hand, miserable because in a few hours mum will be getting you up to go to school. Everyone on the train looks sad, even the ticket inspector. The sun’s going down and you can’t help but think about how the next time you see it you’ll be back to normality.
I can’t complain about having to go back to work because it’s paying for me to do all these wonderful things with my life. But I do wish it weren’t so easy to predict what I was going back to. All week I have been fighting to clear a backlog of crap that inevitably built up while I was away. Now that I know I’ll only be doing it for a few more months it’s almost worse because they are finally solving the problem by moving it to Eastern Europe, where they can employ more people to deal with it, years after they should have solved it. All this time I’ve spent fighting this never-ending backlog of crap, not knowing what the point is, and now the end is in sight and all I can think about is how badly I want it to be December. Forget embracing the moment, I just want to race ahead to Christmas now. I can’t wait any longer. All of which of course makes it harder to do the job in hand. If the end weren’t in sight I’d just be carrying on like a robot, but as it is I know it’s almost over and I can’t help counting the minutes, none of us can.
I guess I enjoyed my job for the first year or so, when I seemed to know what I was doing and why I was doing it for the first time in my life. I was acquiring some useful knowledge and I was helping people. For the past four years there is no denying I’ve been growing slowly sick of it. Sick of the thanklessness, sick of the invisibility. You have to admit it’s an odd position for someone to be in. I am currently about as sick of my job as anyone can be, and now it’s ending, thank fuck, this couldn’t have happened at a better time. Whether I like it or not I’m going to have be ready for change in 2015, and I’m almost certain that I am ready now.
I mean who’d have ever thought it would be possible for me to spend a month in France? Who’d have thought I wouldn’t feel overcome with panic at the thought of leaving my job? Sure, when I first found out the news on holiday there were a few moments of terror, that’s the natural reaction to news like this I guess. This week I think I’m at peace with the idea of being out of work at the beginning of next year, not just because I’ll have a nice redundancy payoff to support me if it does happen, but because I will have freedom to essentially do whatever I want. That’s the thing about life today, I have many choices that I didn’t use to have. Aren’t I lucky?
I was certainly lucky last night, when I was visited at 11.30pm by the handsome manager of my local gay pub. We had been surreptitiously exchanging dirty pictures on whatsapp all week – I’d been doing a rather fine job of concealing my phone at work, I have to say – and getting so excited by it all that a meeting was surely inevitable. Getting in the way of me feeling 100% confident about the meeting was the fact that I’d had a huge crush on this guy all year. Even up to the point where he was standing outside my door, I couldn’t entirely believe that he was interested in me. The moments leading up to his arrival outside were almost frantic. I had to tidy my room, pretty myself up and make myself smell nice – I couldn’t bear to be a disappointment. I was as terrified of the thought of penetrative sex and of being expected to orgasm as I’ve ever been, yet I wanted the guy so bad I was willing to ignore those possibilities and open the door to him. I simply couldn’t turn my nose up at such an opportunity. For the first time I saw that life was for the living, and so I threw myself into the moment, even in spite of the profound fears that were threatening to overwhelm me.
I’d had to wait up for him because he couldn’t get away from the pub until after closing time. It’s clearly going to be an obstacle if I end up seeing him again. Last night I was more than happy to wait up, probably because it was the first time and I was incapable of going to sleep anyway, I felt as if I was in a weird waking dream as the hours went on. When I opened the door he looked as gorgeous as always, and here he was following me up the stairs, coming into my room, sitting on my bed, letting me take his clothes off. What made it endearing was how shy he clearly was: he could hardly speak. I gathered I wasn’t the only one who rarely did this sort of thing. He wanted me to turn the light off and I obliged, disappointed for only a few seconds until I realised that it was going to be even more exciting and playful in the dark.
For two hours I came alive; it was quite beautiful. I couldn’t really see his face but, thanks to my imagination, I didn’t need to. I knew I was with the most stunningly gorgeous man I’d ever spent the night with. His body was not one bit disappointing. We remained sensible and didn’t go all the way last night, which is probably a good thing. At 1am we were finished; with some effort I managed to climax, something I’m never sure if I will or not, well thank God I did because it was getting late and I knew he wanted to and I also knew that he would want me to reciprocate it. All men do. I’ve been with very few men who’ve been willing to let me get away with not showing that I enjoyed myself. In bed, with a man there is really only one way to prove that you enjoyed yourself. Saying it isn’t enough: you have to emit bodily fluid at the very least. I did it, and I think I could only do it because I was still so in awe of him and I wasn’t tired at all. When he was gone I laid down and tried to get to sleep, knowing I only had five hours before I had to be up for work, and I couldn’t sleep. I was up replaying the night’s event’s until 3am.
Today to begin with I was still riding on the crest of a wave of excitement about it all. As the hours passed, a small nagging voice in me grew louder, reminding me that I hadn’t had a text message from him thanking me for last night. At 10am I became sick of the anticipation and the growing sadness and so I messaged him, thanking him. Did I need to do it? Probably not. As I was writing the message I knew there was a possibility that I might ruin the dream of what had happened. And what had happened was so wonderful it probably couldn’t be repeated – it was like a glorious film that you only get to see once, never again because the charm is in the novelty and the newness of it – it didn’t need to be repeated. It was clear to me before we even met that we were not going to start dating, that this was not going to be a relationship of the type I’ve been trying to have with J. Which is why I didn’t feel guilty about it – there was always a strong chance I’d never see this guy again and for once I could definitely live with that. I had an amazing time, and I needed to savour those precious moments when I was laying in his arms, and I did.
He replied quickly, agreeing that he’d also had a great time. Phew, I thought. When he left at 1am I had no idea if he’d liked it as much as I did. Apparently he liked it so much he was willing to arrange another meeting, though of course he doesn’t know when it will be possible because of the pub.
I still don’t feel guilty. J and I continue to date without a contract, and even if we had committed to exclusivity I still don’t think I’d feel bad about giving myself to someone else. It’s not that I want to be a slut, I simply can’t bring myself to experience negative feelings over this experience. There’s nothing negative there. It was wonderful, and that’s all there is to it. I am a fully grown sexual being, capable of attracting men that I want to be with – ten years ago I’d have killed to be able to say such a thing. The best thing is that I’m not weeping over the possibility of not seeing – again. If it doesn’t happen again with him it will happen with someone else. And I’m still seeing J. This isn’t me being big headed, I’m just basking in the knowledge that I don’t have to be a dried up celibate old crust any more.