The Game Changer

… the next instalment of my journal, chronicling a year of change …

9.1 23.31

I am becoming used to European travel distances because I am already beginning to complain about them. The flight to Paris is just an hour, but then there is the trip to the airport, getting there early, then the trip from the airport at the other end into town. First world problems.

To my great joy I have discovered that I have left my passport on the plane. What is wrong with me! Forgetting my really expensive scrub in Stockholm was annoying enough. This sort of stuff happens to disorganised people, not me. I have lost my right to be smug. But I bet I will never manage to be disorganised enough to shake the German stereotype.

I am almost hoping the passport will get lost somewhere and I can’t fly back on Sunday.

10.1 19.03

I drifted through Paris today, without a plan. It was marvellous. I didn’t spare a thought for my passport….. even four months ago that would have been unthinkable. I would have spent the whole day on the phone and going to the airport to retrieve it. Instead I went to a small photo exhibition, just so I could say that I had done something, should someone ask. It was pleasant, but not that memorable. The memorable part was drifting. I never used to be able to drift. I remember the first time I properly drifted. I still lived in Brighton at the time, but my ex had already returned to Australia. On a whim, I booked a ticked to Munich for three days, aware that I, too, was going to return to Australia soon, and wanting to take every opportunity for weekends away. I followed my nose, without a plan, and felt liberated in a way I hadn’t ever before. Over something so little. I had only decided the day before that I was going. The knowledge that absolutely nobody knew where I was at that moment, and that I wasn’t accountable to anyone, was something I hadn’t experienced, and it was marvellous. I was in a close relationship for many years, which can be comforting because you are never alone, but it had also become limiting. I would like something in the middle, is that too much to ask?

So, Paris, I had no plan at all, I just walked. I am beginning to get why people love this city so much, I have fallen in love with it too. The vibe, the charm, the people. I went into a small wine bar to order a kir. When I pronounce it, I get a smile every time and a ‘Pardon?’. I didn’t know a German accent can distort such a short word so much that it is unrecognisable. I stood in front of the counter for a good ten minutes while the owner chatted to someone who had finished his shopping. He knew I was waiting. Eventually he looked at me with a brief smile and raised his chin. Almost like I had interrupted him. But he had charm, he got away with it. He pointed me to the back of the shop, where the actual bar was. I ordered my drink, again repeating what I wanted, and went outside. I waited a good thirty minutes. I didn’t bother me, I had brought my book and I love watching people. I was not bothered by anything, it was marvellous. The people at the bar had thought the guy at the front had given me my drink and I had just come to pay. I had waited this long? Really? The way he apologised questioned the fact that I had waited this long. But done with charm.

After my drink I proceeded to walk. Despite having felt displaced, lonely, confused, heartbroken, frustrated, amongst other things, I try to fill my head with happy thoughts and memories. Especially when I travel, I tend to walk around with a smile on my face. Maybe that is what it is that makes people approach me and ask for directions. It happens in every country, and it has already happened in Paris, yesterday, on my way to my hotel. Today, as I was walking, I met the glance of a young man who was walking in the opposite direction. I thought nothing of it. Before I knew it, he was walking alongside me, telling me, half in French, half in English, about the charm of Paris, and that it was important to live life to the full, and part of that was a French kiss. I nearly lost control of my bladder. He actually leaned in for a kiss. He got a kiss on the cheek for his efforts, he walked with me for another five minutes, then kissed my hand good-bye and left. Also charming, in a very forward way.

You wouldn’t get that in Australia. And being approached in the middle of the street by an attractive stranger is soothing if you are nursing a broken heart.

And of course, I have been checking my phone since the middle of the afternoon, just in case my game changer decided to text. He hasn’t. That kind of answers my question as to whether we were going to spend the evening together. But I still checked and waited for his text, and I need to get over that. I just need to.

I will head out again for a quirky exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, which is open until midnight. Nobody can say that I am not trying!

11.1 21.32

Spent all day with my game changer. And last night as well.

I was ready to head to the museum when he texted. He had just finished his prior engagement (he is working on renovating the house of his mother, he was meeting architects), and wanted to know where I was. He had just assumed we would meet whereas I had stewed on it all afternoon.

He suggested meeting him for a kir, my new favourite drink, near the Notre Dame. It took a while to get there, as he had initially given me the wrong street name. One of his friends was going to be there too. It was a weird hour, walking around, trying to find the street he was wanting me to find and wondering about seeing him again, meeting one of his friends. There was a brief moment when I felt relief at the thought of texting him to say ‘Oh well, what a shame, I couldn’t find the place, maybe next time’. The walking around itself didn’t bother me, I don’t get bothered by stuff like that, it’s a minor detail. It just gave me time to think about things too much. What would it be like to see him again? I had had my Munich moment when I felt so very terrible, and we had talked on New Year’s Eve when he had made me feel so wonderful. And then I got to the right pub and saw his great, beaming smile. All the anticipation, all the nerves — I wonder whether he felt them? At all?

It just felt so good, so, so good to see him again. And it felt natural to be with him again. His friend spoke super fast and I mostly understood the sentiment, rather than the meaning, but it mattered not, I liked him, we got on. To me it is always a good sign if you get on with the friends of someone you are smitten with. After drinks, my game changer took us to a Burlesque show. I had told him I had done a course and am keen to do more, and so it was a really nice and fun surprise. Then, maybe it was around midnight, we went to a cafe and had a meal. I have never had the kind of life where you eat at midnight. We had animated and interesting conversations. We were as affectionate as we had been before, and at some point I just asked him whether he wanted to come back with me. He looked really, really happy, and to the day I die I will believe that it was not just a ‘Whooohoooo, I am getting laid’ happy. We left the cafe at around 4.30 — a great evening. The next day we walked Paris. He had got the exhibition times wrong, so we just walked. It didn’t matter, I could have been doing the laundry, in his company I would have been happy. We walked and laughed and talked and kissed and held hands. At night we went to a super nice café for a super nice meal. It was a place he knew and liked. He had brought a bottle of champagne, because months and months earlier he had said he would. We didn’t get to drink it, but he had brought it. There are so many little things.

He stayed with me another night, this morning we had brunch and parted ways. With a lot of hugging. And my heart broke again.

And like last time in Paris, and like talking to him on skype — he makes me feel good. Maybe a naff word for something I feel profoundly, but it’s just this feeling of really, really, really good. Uncomplicated good. Easy good. And he is not a yes man, and certainly no push over. He would never pretend to like something, or agree to do something, just because I liked it or wanted to do it. I really like that, it’s genuine. I have done that too much in the past, adapted too much, and lost too much in the process. And maybe my offer to follow him to Montreal would have been much the same? Losing too much of me in the process? Possible, maybe he recognised more than I did. Still, I don’t regret declaring my feelings.

Now I am back at home, the feeling of ‘good’ still reverberates within me. Right now I feel that we will be in each other’s lives. Apart from love, I feel genuine and unconditional affection for him. I don’t know how I will fell tomorrow, after all, nothing is unconditional, right? We have discussed another weekend catch up. But then what? In a few months he will be back in Montreal. And eventually he will have a girlfriend. Of course, I had still hoped …. for something …. not sure what, really. But I need to focus on my own path now, better really late than not at all. In the past I had hinted that I wanted change, but I have never fought for it. I was waiting for my partner’s approval. A mixture of loyalty and lack of courage. But I am also aware that tomorrow, or the day after, I might feel unutterably sad again. I might not cry anymore, I think I am done crying. But I will feel sad again. Worried that I won’t feel a connection like this a again. Maybe I am wrong about yearning for a connection like this. Maybe it is not independent enough. I can be alone if I have to be, but it would make me very sad.

I will concentrate on my own path, do soul searching and this will ride itself out somehow, and that is the way it was meant to be. I will hang on to this feeling of ‘good’ as long as i can. I will try and plug back into work. I will practice ukulele more. Boulder until I get a ‘V’ back. Maybe do another burlesque course. And hang on to that feeling of ‘good’.

And there was no problem with my passport. I just rocked up at the airport an hour earlier and it was fine. If they had not found it, well, the world would have kept turning, there would have been another solution.

If I could only let go of other things I can’t control.

13.1 11.05

And it is happening again, not unexpected, that feeling of ‘good’ is getting quieter, as I am getting absorbed again into my daily routine. The disquiet is creeping back in. I am foraging inspirational things to read, to keep me thinking, keep my courage up. The courage to just crack on. I have always wanted to do something more creative but don’t think I am particularly creative. I am not used to taking risks. I want to learn to take a risk. I have never seen myself as a visionary who can start something. And maybe I am not, maybe I am the person behind the visionary who gets things done. And that’s fine, we can’t all be all things. I can’t make it here, I have to try and get a transfer to a new office in a different town, which may be more dynamic, with more dance opportunities, different people. That would buy me time, allow me to maybe find another job if necessary. Things would be better. All good thoughts of course, the voice of reason. Everything in me screamed against this reasonable middle ground, which is bizarre, because I have inhabited the middle ground all my life, and don’t know if I would last even a day anywhere else. Out of nowhere this feeling has developed that carrying on with a normal job, like most people, will drain my soul. Not that I am even remotely equipped or prepared for anything else.

But this reasonable and balanced life I have led has left me wondering what the hell I am doing here. And above and through it all I feel so very sad. I felt close to typing a letter of resignation there and then. I have never been really spontaneous — the most spontaneous thing I have ever done is to tell my game change that he is my game changer — that didn’t work out so well for me. I didn’t resign then and there but I have a feeling the decision will be quick, the urge powerful, when it finally happens. I have come across this great quote today:

‘All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger, but in calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition, not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.’ Niccolo Machiavelli.

That’s big. The last notion reverberates with me especially. I have acquired the strength to suffer, put up with a situation that doesn’t make me happy because it felt like the right thing to so, because it was expected, because I have watched my mother do it, because I had no courage to do something else. Now I need to do the other stuff in that quote.

And maybe my game changer only entered my life to give me a jolt, to make things go faster. Doesn’t make me feel any better though, nor grateful. All I can do is use this energy, because pain like this is energy, as fuel to take positive steps in my life. Tenacity, I am good at that.

There will be those moments when quotes are just quotes, when courage will fail me, when I will think that maybe I am just not cut out for taking risks, and when I am left with a broken heart I didn’t ask for. Well, there is such a moment right now. Elmo has an uncertain future.

13.1 21.16

I get a newsletter from this group of people who were tired of being in corporations and wanted to do something completely different, and bring a network of people together who also want to do something completely different. That sounded nice. Jobs are advertised on this site and I was very curious. Most jobs sound very corporate, and all want a person who is very experienced in that very field, which doesn’t exactly leave room for a person who wants to try something different. That’s the point, you want to do it because you haven’t done it. And of course you can go on courses that teach you how to conquer your fear.

Haven’t found a job yet I am remotely sufficiently experienced for, luckily I haven’t found anything I would really, really like to do either.

Develop the strength to do bold things — that sounds nice at least.

14.1 9.15

The desk of my little flat now has a variety of yellow stickies with motivational quotes. I am now one of those people. I look at them every time I walk by them, and draw strength. I never thought I would be that person, I used to secretly smile at people who did that. I used to think, why do you have to look at this quote, can’t it just be in your head? Well, I have to adjust my attitude and assumption about that, the way I am adjusting my attitude about a lot of things. I will hang on to those quotes by my very fingernails and not let those notions slip. For big and small things. Either when I make a decision about actually leaving my job, or about whether I think I can find something to smile about on any given day. In a way they are all big things. Maybe I should just nag about a relocation. That might fix everything, being in a more fun town where it’s easier to meet people. Or it might fix things to some extent, and then I would be where I was before, without progress, whatever progress is. There are times when being comfortable again, and maybe sometimes a little bored, looks damn desirable. And moving job and country might just make me feel more lost, if that’s at all possible.

One thing I really want to do is finish a book I started writing years ago. I was always interested in writing, and wrote when I was very young. My stepfather made some derogatory remarks about my earliest effort, and that was my last effort. I took his comments to heart. I have been diddling about with this book for years, and always found reasons not to just finish. Because once it’s finished, I might realise it’s shit. A pretty good reason to not even try. So there are always reasons not to do it. Work is too busy, life is too busy. Maybe if I took time off I would just run around in circles, being indecisive.

How did that quote go?

Prudence is not in avoiding danger, but in calculating risk and acting decisively.

Make mistakes of ambition, not mistakes of sloth.

Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.

I think I will probably change my mind a hundred times over the next couple of weeks, each decision will come with its own hopes, fears and regrets.

Sometimes I think that I don’t really care.

14.1 22.41

My landlord came by today, with a woman who wanted to view my temporary flat, which I am vacating next week in order to move into the flat I have already given notice on. He asked how I was, and of course I told him. Not about the game changer (I draw the line somewhere), but my general unhappiness with my situation. He had much empathy, as he is not very happy with his own job at the moment and making plans to leave it. He said that if you are unhappy, there is no point staying. Then he said, unless you are just too old to make another change. In Germany that age seems to be forty. How stupid, most people are much better at everything when they are forty than ten years earlier.

When he left I felt utterly deflated. And fearful. I looked at my quotes. Get me through, come on!

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger, but calculating risk and acting decisively.

Am I miscalculating by leaving my job and jumping into the unknown? Maybe this risk is just too high. Machiavelli never said ‘Just follow your heart’. After a conversation like that I feel that maybe I have missed the boat. I hate ageism, but maybe for some things the time does run out. I resent it when I hear a person who has turned thirty refer to themselves as ‘old now’. And I hate it even more when people in their forties, male or female, say ‘Not at my age, I can’t do that anymore.’ We are not talking about being a professional ballerina, sometimes it’s as simple and achievable as late night dancing. It’s changing slowly, but I think we are still doing a very good job at devaluing ourselves unnecessarily early. I was always determined that this would not happen to me.

Tonight I thought maybe it will happen to me. Maybe the fight against the odds is just too hard. The people who left the corporate world and founded that website that encourages people to try something different, I looked at their photos, and they are all young. What do they know about time passing and your enthusiasm being ground away by circumstance, life, routine and just time? And that might be patronising as well, I don’t know the obstacles they have had to face. But they have time. Maybe no more time than me, in real terms, but in terms of being a visible, useful and desirable commodity. Time, such luxury and in many ways the essence of all things.

I felt so deflated. So very deflated. But then I also felt angry. Not a senseless wild fury, but a healthy rebellion. Maybe sightly desperate. I was going to break that mould, or at least try. If not for anyone else, at least for me. Fuck it. I will try.

I think if I fail I won’t regret having tried, but if I just get scared now, and stay comfortable in my well paid job (and I will miss that salary if I end up in a greasy diner), then I will regret it.

Skyped my game change tonight. He is gorgeous, even on skype. I will stand by being smitten, while being ready for heart break down the road; he just makes me feel too good right now. I am tempted to take Elmo out of the cupboard.

15.1 12.48

When I went bouldering yesterday I met a woman again I had met before. We worked on some routes together and I said it would be nice to train together once in a while. She liked the idea. Something so small and almost coincidental, and I was so excited to actually make a plan to meet someone, to work on something together, to have a conversation. I am also meeting a class mate for a session of French conversation. Two interpersonal and social things in one day, I am almost giddy. I am disproportionally excited about spending time in company like that. Time with conversation. I am aware how much I miss the regular brunches, the daily interactions with work colleagues and going out after work to do SOMETHING. I knew I would miss those things, but knowledge is not the same thing as living it. I didn’t think I would be affected this much.

And now I am asking myself, how many French practice sessions, how many bouldering training sessions would I need to be happy here? In this town, in this job? Would I be able to be happy, or would I just be comfortable? Would I accept being comfortable? Am I prepared to stay here longer and explore those tenuous connections I am forming, or am I placing too much importance on them? Would I want any decision to move to be dependent on whether or not someone is prepared to meet me for a French or bouldering session? That would be silly. Or would it be? Most people I know who wouldn’t be prepared to move and give their friends and family as a reason. Those connections are their base. And those connections start somewhere, maybe even with a bouldering session. If I don’t hang around somewhere, I will never have that base. But then, I hung around in Australia for thirty years and didn’t have it.

Back to where I have been before, how long do I wait, how long do I wait …. what am I waiting for. I feel like I am in a waiting room for something. From here, all sorts of parallel lives branch off into the unknown, each probably containing equal amounts of good and bad things.

So maybe, who the hell cares?

15.1 14.38

I woke up with a strange feeling this morning, it was a little bit like hope. And a trifle of happiness. Mixed in with feeling sad, but it there nonetheless. Imagine my surprise. And imagine my further surprise at the realisation that this feeing didn’t come from the knowledge that I am meeting people for something, but from the conviction I am in the waiting loop to something good, something new, something I choose, something I am in control of. If I visualise staying here, in this job, in this city, with the routine being punctuated by fun stuff, be it bouldering or going away for the weekend, that thought depresses me. And surely, I have thought about this for so long now, I can’t possibly change my mind, can I (about this unclear thing I am going to do). I hope I can’t.

Or maybe they are just famous last day dreams before they come asunder on the rocks of reality. Maybe I am just a lot of hot air, feeling all rebellious because I am bored in my job. I will just cave.

But I am here and so I may as well make a list

I want

to take a risk

to be more than just comfortable

to be challenged

to generate, not just respond

to see whether I can direct my life in a completely new direction

I have never done that before

15.1 21.38

My French practice session was great. We had a glass of wine and actually spoke French. Until it came to me dumping my story on her, including the game changer, for which I just don’t have the french vocabulary — yet. I always tell people that I want to quit without knowing what I want to do, I want to sound out their reaction. Do they think I am stupid? Do I just need to be validated? Most people say it’s a great idea, but they would never do it.

At the moment I happily allow myself to be propped up by words of support, including from people who barely know me.

And wouldn’t it be great to get away from the IT industry! I couldn’t care less about cloud services. Or servers. Or applications. I never did. I went to all that trouble to study law after I left my old job in the IT industry just to get away from it. And now here I am back in it. In my job in Australia I could mitigate my dislike by working with people whom I liked and working towards a goal with them. I love it when I can do that, it gives me a buzz.

I was unnerved by it all and ate too much stollen when I got home. I meant to go out dancing, but didn’t. But I danced at home. One can’t do everything. I practiced more French. And then ate more chocolate. Not all problems are solved all at once, no matter what. C’est la vie.

I think I am coming back up from the bottom of the hole, and that is a truly wonderful feeling. It’s only been around a month.

Unfortunately the corsets I ordered for my burlesque photo shoot are too small, I have to return them. What is a couple more weeks?

My new and other favourite quote:

STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH

16.1 16.27

Today I woke up feeling very light …. which is not the same as ‘good’, sometimes the word ‘good’ is so overused, it almost becomes meaningless. I just felt particularly unburdened. Almost carefree. And I am not a carefree kind of girl. I spoke to my wingman, told him that I am really close to making a decision to resign. He asked me whether I would have to take a pay cut. It wasn’t a critical question, and it’s fair. I told him most definitely. I will be asked that question again and again, and I will have to defend my position, to the extent that I want to explain myself. Most people don’t walk away from a well paid job which is rather stress free. It’s not something I would ever have considered in the past. Ever. And as I was talking to my wingman, I felt light, I felt that things were possible. Now, after a few more hours of pondering, I am not so sure.

Thoughts can kill any idea.

Or bullet proof them.

And why the rush? I can just take it slowly. As I think that, I feel my energy drain from me. My courage. Why the rush? I don’t have a really good answer to that. I normally like to be able to explain myself to me. And normally I can. But in this case, I am not sure. It wouldn’t kill me to stay in this role another six moths, as opposed to three. Time passes so quickly, and it’s easier to find a job while you are in a job. It’s good to be able to save money. But there is this feeling in my gut that compels me to hurry. I am petrified that if I slow down I will lose this sense of being driven, compelled, and that I will just stop laughing altogether. And then I get used to it and find a different kind of comfortable that doesn’t comfort me at all. And then, in five years from now, or ten, I will look back and feel that I fucked up.

18.1 3.32

A few people have said that there is something amazing waiting for me, out there, once I quit. I wonder if they would change their few of me if they saw me sometimes, like now, eating liqueur filled chocolates at three in the morning. Not exactly the poster child for being inspirational and awe inspiring. I am always surprised when people see me as someone who can do stuff, because so often I don’t feel like that at all.

Action before motivation.

Put the chocolate away, move, do something.

Think of the comments, they made you feel good. Honour them.

17.1 20.08

And then reality kicks in. Saturday night, and I am on my own. I am always on my own. If I take three months off, I will be on my own as well. On Monday, I am actually going out for dinner with the woman from French class and her group of friends. This is my first social dinner since I arrived. I had one meet-and-greet dinner with a colleague, but that doesn’t count. Now that I am no longer doing the work he thought I would be doing (work that might help him), he is just ignoring me.

I am super excited about this dinner, that’s how lonely I am. I crave contact with my friends back in Australia, just crave it. I miss, desperately, desperately miss, having a brunch or just a cup of tea with someone. Just having laughs. Maybe that’s one reason I have decided not to go travelling long term, just back pack for a while, I think I would just continually feel cut off. Maybe that shows my dependence. Maybe I should travel for a while, work out how to be comfortable being alone all the time, and how to sit in a bar on my own and talk to strangers. Does it mean you are not comfortable being alone just because you miss company? I think it would be tragic if I stopped missing company. I actually like that I have become more social, that I need company more than I used to, I actually really like it. I just have to ride out feeling lonely until I meet more of my people. I have come this far, I have to risk that it will take a long time, and I don’t know where I will find those people because I haven’t even decided yet where I will be. I have ordered a camping cupboard for my new apartment. It will fold easily and store, when I am ready to move.

In the meantime, I will have Saturdays like this. I was going to go bouldering, but worked pretty hard last night and decided my fingers need another few hours, so will go tomorrow morning. I went for a walk today, did some shopping. But I haven’t done enough French, nor have I practiced dance or ukulele. There is all this fun stuff I have planned to do, and yet the afternoon hours opened before me like a chasm. The fun things became a burden, something I must do so I don’t feel lonely. I have eaten too much chocolate, again, my period is coming. I have to shift a kilo or two, I have to be honest with myself, the weeks of blubbering have left their mark.

A shitty Saturday night and I feel alone. I check the clock, was about to change my mind about bouldering, stuff it, and it is too late. I won’t make the next train, and the one after doesn’t leave enough time. Now I feel like a loser. I have planned to do two things today, French and boulder, and I haven’t done either.

It will be like that. Feeling alone all the time, and shitty.

But I am not blubbering, I don’t even feel like blubbering, and that is a good thing. A very good thing.

17.1 21.40

I can just blame my period for feeling shit and lonely and dejected, those hormones have to be good for something.

Cried a bit, but didn’t blubber.

17.1 22.38

And all of the sudden I am gripped by an inexplicable anger towards my ex, this nice man who didn’t want me to leave him, who was reliable and solid, and who loved me. Our break up was a quiet affair, we never argued, and I mostly felt guilty and desperate for him to understand me a bit. I am angry because he made it possible for me to feel so unnecessary and lonely. I am angry with me as well, it takes two to tango. I am responsible for me, nobody else is.

I should have gone bouldering, the fingers would have managed somehow, instead I am sitting here and slowly beginning to feel miserable, and eating too much cheese. I think the people who have, jokingly and not so jokingly, made stupid and patronising comments about me being intimidating, bossy and easily persuaded to tear someone a new one wouldn’t know that I can be this insecure mess. At least I am thorough, and when I feel shitty, I feel really really shitty.

I should just go out to a bar, start talking to people. I only have myself to blame for feeling lonely, if I don’t go out on a Saturday night. But I don’t, so there. And the truth be told, the pubs I have walked past in this town don’t look super fun, and certainly no laughter emanates from them. Nobody laughs out loud here, with their whole body, the way I like to laugh. I really, really miss that.

I knew I would have shitty nights on the way back up from the bottom and this is one of them, it kind of just snuck up on me though, I wasn’t prepared.

So, I have to write today off and forgive myself for it.

Action before motivation, tomorrow is another day and I will do better. And feel better.

18.1 2.36

A former colleague told me that she loathes the industry she is working in. The precise words were loathe, hate and detest. A very competent woman, really intelligent, confident, organised…. all that. When I asked her why she didn’t leave the industry she asked ‘To do what?’, and said that her job was paying well. And there is the rub, again. If a competent woman is trapped in this position, what makes me think that I can find a way out?

When I was little I craved parental approval, and for years I craved the approval of my ex.

Whatever I decide to do, stay in my job, quit, become a stripper or pick cherries for a living — it’s on me.

There it is, in a nutshell, and that’s fucking scary.

It’s on me.

I was with someone for a long time, and things weren’t really just on me. That can be used as a reason and as an excuse, and I have done both. Yes, you are responsible for someone, you are committed, and can’t just take off on a whim — valid and genuine, especially after many years together. I am a very loyal person, and it’s a trait I actually really like. But I have also used being with someone as an excuse for inactivity.

That my choices now are on me is scary and liberating.

When I go bouldering, two things hold me back, time and time again. The first is that I am not yet good enough to ‘switch on’ the various body parts at the right time and with the correct energy. The second is the distance between my ears. I lose heart before that final pull when the distance looks too great, or, if I do go for it, and actually touch the last hold, I slip off, because I never expect to hold on. And I have some spectacular falls when making my awkward leaps.

The metaphor limps, when I boulder there is something there to hold on to, even though I might not be able to hold on. In life I am considering just resigning without a clear idea of what I am moving towards.

But it’s that, not wanting to have a crack at the final move, because the fall might be spectacular.

I think about him a lot, every day. Mostly in a good way, sometimes not so good. It is still a connection more special than any I have felt before. I still blubber.