"When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions"

It's a good job new spines are flexible, durable and able to repair - because mine got a kicking yesterday that I am still feeling today.

Worked-up into a frenzy of anxious excitment (tempered with great trepidation) I went to view a flat. Calling it a flat is perhaps generous - a random collection of functional rooms would be more accurate.Not even a collection, maybe a clump. A clot? Anyway...

High in the attic of a Georgian tenement several overseas students and myself prodded and poked our way around the grim property, feigning disinterest. It was functional - nothing more, nothing less - except it had a view across to Berwick Law, the looming presence of Arthur's Seat and the broad expanse of the Firth of Forth that I could feel would calm me when I needed calming and entertain me when all seemed lifeless, the constantly changing vista of the sea acting as some great movie screen. I wanted to stay here, regardless of the hike, the grotty stair, the overwhelming sense of misery that emanated from the hastily painted woodchip walls.

I tried haggling (me! haggling!) with the letting agent - but it was more out of a sense of new-found cockiness and swagger than in any real hope of battering down the price. I took an application form and sauntered down the stair. It would be a doddle.

Sat in a café on the Royal Mile I started to fill in the form. Dubstar were playing on the radio, "Not So Manic Now" - and I took it as an omen - things would be calm, I would have my lofty eerie, my writer's garret, to build my new self and life. A niggling doubt played in the back of my mind however: I needed to check that I would have enough hours' work next session to cover the rent. I phoned the college.

My colleague answered the phone on the third ring. I asked outright about hours and he was evasive, only giving it to me straight when I told him what was going on in my life right now. With an ominous deep inhalation of breath, he informed me that my current post was being amalgamated into a new position, to be advertised this week. I was free to apply of course, but...

In short: no guarantee of work. I folded the application form and put it in my bag, tears of frustration burning my eyes. All the strength I had gathered seemed to swirl away. I walked down to Princes Street Gardens and sat outside the National Gallery, watching the trains pulling out of Waverley Station, heading somewhere timetabled and certain. I closed my eyes and felt the world pull me and sway me for a while, then opened them again to a new world, a new reality. I phoned a voice of calm and understanding, me babbling with new resolve, needing to hear that it would all be OK, all OK... and I did. It touched me like an embrace.

This is a fresh challenge. A new opportunity: so, OK, I won't have my own space just yet.And I won't have a familiar job to escape to: I must skulk back to the home I left - the flat that once was my home, to be more precise - and live kenneled in a spare room until such times as I can escape. I must decide my own direction, take fresh steps rather than rely on old familiar working paths.

Maybe it will be good for me. Maybe I need to repair there, see the devastation I have created, own it, live with it and absorb it into me - a fresh injection of steel into my hardening spine. Maybe I need to face my demons and not run from them.

I'm growing up, I think. I hope, anyway. I always hope...


Aine said...

Good grief. The very best of luck to you.

mc said...

'Amalgamated'? 'Free to apply'?

Bastards. I had to do that once, and it came with nightmares of being beaten to it by a stranger. I did get the job, because I knew it inside out and I knew exactly what they wanted.

So do you.