the last 36 hours were a very strange day and a half.. the end of many things attended by some extreme highs and lows and any number of jolts sideways.
the chain began during thursday at work where the first deadline of my entire year at the bank hurtled towards us and then hurtled past without any of the maelstrom I had been expecting. We were due to provide a fully functioning test version of our software to the big cheeses.. stuff i have been working on for nearly a year.. a frustratingly inefficient and troublesome year where most things have been out of my control but no-one has been to bothered to do anything but let things limp on. Now the poobahs are interested and so thursday was an arbitrary deadline to show them what we’ve done.
Having lived in the middle of the limitations and frustrations of this for so long, i am aware of how bad it is and also that in part i ought to have done more about this. We’ve made progress but slowly and in comparison to other things i’ve done it’s embarrassing. I could have pushed a lot harder myself and am leaving in four weeks so I ought to accept the post of scape-goat and get my coat. Thursday was the day i was expecting that, we rushed to push out something but extra haste was a waste and by 6:30pm my boss was on the verge of tears and i’d had enough. I left for the day knowing that friday might now be the day of judgement.
I went from there to dinner with Ailsa. We had split up three weeks before in the depths of my exam season. A few days later she headed off for a week in Italy, and an infidelity a piece with mutual friends turned our life into a tangled opera and the talk of our small circle (even smaller when something like this happens.) Since it wasn’t technically an infidelity on either part, we were relatively untroubled by it but there was (and is) inevitably fall-out.
On top of all that, my exams finished at the same time and suddenly I was lifted from the haze of cramming into the heavenly clouds of freedom. In my better mood my perspective on our relationship shifted. I saw what grim company I had been for the last six months or more of college and although we do seem very different in temperament and expectations, my natural optimism returned and I thought the tremendous highs we had experienced could potentially form the foundations of true love. Ailsa was the first person ever i’ve been able to imagine marrying.. and while okay I had to be on mushrooms to reach this insight but it was sliver of perfection and idealism that fits with my romanticism and hope.. so then i missed her.. that we had parted so inconsequentially only added to the sense of missed opportunity.
She returned italy in more turmoil from the events of that week but indicating that she was at peace with the idea that we were over.. which was a bit disappointing but then she left for glastonbury almost instantly. I had more time to reflect, doing so i only made myself more sad and regretful by listing loads of wonderful things about her and remembering many of our mutual successes. On thursday evening we met for a meal where i would try to articulate this.
I wasn’t particularly successful but it did not matter much because it was extremely clear that she was certain that she was not having any second thoughts at all that point. I know as well as her the reasons why it wouldn’t work out but it was a mystery why she felt As Pascal says “Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait.” Her heart wasn’t in it but i couldn’t figure out why.
We then went to Offline which was excellent. She left half an hour before me, fairly drunk to my teetotal sober. But we were both confused when i caught sight of her ducking into our local 24hr shop as i’d nearly got home. I bought her the apple juice she claimed she come from and we parted at the end of respective roads at 2am. Twenty minutes later the strange behaviour of another friend i’d bumped into at the other end of Coldharbour Lane on leaving the Dogstar fell into a pattern. I put two and two tegether and realised that they were trying to arrange a furtive get-together. They were going out. This, i later realised even later, was her reason.
I cried a lot. i was sad, jealous and curious all at the same time.. not least cos it was only a theory at that point. very tearful, mostly feeling sorry for myself that anything directed at the two of them. I barely slept at all and for the first time in two weeks didn’t have a nightmare about exams results. These were due out that afternoon. After four years, I would get the single grade that summarised all my effort. I was 80% certain i’d get a first but would have been utterly devasted by anything less.
I was in work two hours earlier than normal, which pacified my boss somewhat and we managed to clear most of the trouble we’d had the day before and by lunch time we had finally installed the software on the computers of the Fromages. To no fanfare or shitstorm whatsoever. I found just about time to compose a short mail to ailsa to get her to confirm my suspicions and headed off to college.
The results were slightly delayed so a few of us loitered around waiting while i reflected that this was really the end of Ailsa and I. This was the finality that I had thought was lacking earlier, rationally it was right but I hated to have lost it that way. And was unbelievably jealous that she was back on the board and with a good prospect too (They seem eminently compatible.) Whilst I was back before square one, with a bigger challenge because the fact this hadn’t worked out confirmed my own idealist notions.
The results were finally put on the noticeboard and when I saw that I had indeed got a first, I was very, very pleased and hugely relieved. I texted almost everyone in my phonebook and shed a more tears. Four years of (moderate) effort payed off and my future academic path would not be haunted by a lower grade than i was capable of. Despite everyone else assuming i am stupidly clever, a 2:1 was a possibility, I am widely read and engaged in my subject but my enthusiasms are multi-dimensional and mostly not directed towards the narrow syllabus we would be examined on, and needless to say I didn’t change my ways and knuckle down to focused concentration on what we were taught but hoped that my broad background and some intense cramming would see me right. It seemed they did but in the one case where my grade has mattered to me and not to taken for granted I probably ought to have been more conscientious. Luckily, I got by. And I can move onto graduate studies, which i think will suit my tastes better.
Belinda was bit upset by her result so wouldn’t come out to play. Hung around for rest of day with some psycho’s but gradually withdrawing into myself and still feeling extremely sorry for myself and so jealous that Ailsa had something exciting to move on to. While I was done with work, done with class and moving on in everything else but doing so alone. Finally caught up with Belinda at 11 and had good cry on her shoulder, a few good hugs and long talk to get it all off my chest and today I feel like new man (and a new woman come to that )
And all this without a drink!