Mentally, I sometimes think I never left my old job. When I come back to visit, so much is still the same – my Charlie & Lola mug is still in the cupboard, I’m still not brave enough to carry a round of tea up the stairs and there’s still a note on the biscuit tin that says ‘Reminder: gingers must be segregated.’
I *loved* that job – it was my first job after uni, and I got to play with words and make stuff in a way that my job now, working in ‘real’ publishing, just doesn’t allow. My colleagues were genuinely close friends (hence why I’m visiting this weekend), and the drive in every morning was through some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside.
So, why did I leave? Yep, you guessed it: because of a boy.
He gets referred to elsewhere on the blog as ‘the boy before the boy.’ I adored him.
We were friends, first-and-foremost – I cooked for him, he cooked for me, we watched crap films, he played along to 1980s music videos on his bass guitar while I sat on the sofa and cringed. We were never together in a romantic sense, either, much as I would’ve liked us to be. The reasons were complicated, but in short they involved his infatuation with his ex-girlfriend’s twin sister, a lot of angst and a fair few anti-depressants, too.
That wasn’t the deal breaker, although it maybe should have been. We stayed friends, and then inevitably, he met someone. Suddenly, I seemed to be staring at spending my late-twenties in the middle of nowhere, single with little hope of reprieve, and bitter as hell. So I left.
For years, when I went back, I’d avoid him. He worked on the top floor of the building. I could see most of the people I wanted to see without venturing anywhere near him. And then a year or so ago, I realised that enough water had passed under the bridge that it was no longer as raw as it had been. I climbed the stairs and went to say hi.
I went back again today, and once again, I went up to his office for a chat. I still find it utterly amazing that someone you thought the world of, fancied like hell, and ultimately hated with a passion, can become someone that you honestly don’t really feel anything for at all. We still don’t talk about his girlfriend, but we can do small talk. On his PC are the zoo animal figures I made for his birthday cake. True, sugarpaste isn’t really a foodstuff, but the faded elephant, tiger and meerkat belong in the bin – keeping anything edible for five years is just plain gross. But then, I don’t care what he does with them, just as I don’t care what he does with the rest of his life – in the best possible way. He’s a reminder that, sure, right now it might hurt like hell, but it won’t always be that way.