… to learn how to write stories again.
As much as I have been mentioning what today is all about, it’s even less online than it is in real conversations around the office. There’s been nothing else which has been a consistent topic over the last month at least, save perhaps considerations of the future beyond today.
Today also marks my 2 year anniversary at work, which is kinda scary in itself. Sure, actual date might be the 6th, but it’s the same week, the same first Monday of February, and that counts more for me.
But back to the topic at hand. Why the constant attention? It’s all about what it means. It’s like report day back in school – it’s a reflection of how your year went, and what you got as a result. As a ‘graduate’, the number is partially arbitrary, but today is also promotions day, which is just as relevant, if not more so. There’s talk from many of quitting if various parameters aren’t met, but that’s got to be a scary step to make.
It’s not like school, where you’ll just be graduating at the end of a fixed term. It’s not like uni, where you have to tick all the minimum requirements boxes to cash in. It’s so much more vague and undefined, just as you need someone to point the right way.
Maybe it’s just me.
It’s something emepheral, almost. Our relationship is defined almost entirely within the confines of the darkness and the music, the undercurrent of alcohol and the late night, the unsteady beat driving our actions and defining our interaction.
It’s hard to have a moment of intimacy when you’re surrounded by strangers at close range. Any such moments must be stolen, and undeclared, lasting mere seconds while the gaps between the moments stretch out, time’s elastic nature playing its usual trick. The music’s volume precludes anything but the eyes conversing, though at this stage it’s still early enough in the relationship that all the common phrases have not been defined in the language of the eyes.
Politeness demands you engage others, but your eyes are drawn back, searching for contact, unacknowledge or otherwise.
Finally, you find yourself outside, the chill night air refreshing after the stale heat of the dancefloor. Another night is over, and each of the group will find their way home, to wake tomorrow, some basking in the aftermath, others holding a head of regret. The moment passes, and you wonder if it’ll occur again.
You cross your fingers and wish upon a star. Maybe the old tales do come true sometimes.
Rachel Bilson! That’s it!
(never mind, you wouldn’t get it anyway)
(It’s inevitable, isn’t it? As soon as I say “I’m on hiatus,” I think of something to write)
I think what’s got me in a bit of a zone is the fact that suddenly, things are real. I don’t know why it hasn’t felt like that until just recently; maybe I’m finally getting out of that age range where you’re expected to goof off, and hitting 22 suddenly sounds very much like “Ok, you’re supposed to be grown up now. Get on with it.”
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in London and suddenly I’ve realised that, wait, I’m actually here for 7 whole months. Not just two like last time, most of which was spent larking about. Maybe it’s my flatmates – they’re all much, much older, and while they are students, it’s something they’ve come back to.
Maybe it’s that others are talking of careers, and homes, and lifetime partners, and I’m not thinking of any of that, because… well because I’m not sure that I should. That’s Scary Stuff, don’t you know? The grad program I’m on is a nice feather-bed to land on on my way into the workplace, because for the first year at least, it certainly felt like I was just out of uni but not really, and it was all a bit of a lark. And then London happened, or at least kicked off, and it still felt like it was just going to another semester.
But then I got here, and found a place to live, and suddenly… it’s all too real.
Whatever the reason, it’s like I’m finally realising I’m out of uni, and way out of school. The work I do day-to-day affects other people in their day-to-day world, even if just slightly. In some cases, there are people praising my work, and that drives an intense sense of satisfaction. In others, there are those who criticise and point out how it gets in their way. And all the time I’m watching them thinking “hang on, you use this for real?“, as if I’d always considered that this was merely an exercise like at uni, and I was being trained for the “real thing”. But now I’m here, I’m called on as a subject expert, having worked on it for a year and a half (and still knowing all too little).
It’s not too early for a quarter-life crisis, is it? When the hell did life become real?!
Even after 2 years, the memory is strong. The dream lives on, growing, changing, adapting to the newer perspective. I want to reach out and grab it, to hold it tight until it becomes real, or it truly dissipates. Regret and desire all mixed in with a hint of words unsaid.
Imagination, dreaming – they all serve their purpose.
Occasionally, melancholia hits, and you just can’t sleep.
There’s still days when I think that this is it, and from tomorrow, it’s back to university, I’m done pretending, or that the alarm clock is going to go off and I’ll wake and it’ll still be February 6th, 2006, and I have yet to turn up for my first day, or it’s May 21st, 2005, and I’ve got to fly to Sydney today for my interview. After a year and three months, I’m still not sure if it’s real, that what I’m doing makes a difference to someone’s life and all that money in my bank account is there for a reason. I’m still younger than the new grads this year, by a year or two yet, and I’ll be younger than the grads next year too (though they’ll be closer). I’m ahead of schedule, dammit.
And I’m not sure if I’ll ever shake the feeling, at least until I’m leading or delivering a reasonably large project. Am I alone? From the sounds of it, not really, but is that a symptom of the job or of the expectations we have? If I were to look critically at myself, I’d see that I do have skills that I didn’t have when I turned up that fateful Monday morning, that I have this body of knowledge and an opinion that is value, even if I occasionally have too big opinion of it (I’m working on it, ok).
It’s real, and it’s bloody terrifying. Stay at uni as long as you can!
A night of wine, women and song on the water, the middle of the harbour under the stars and surrounded by old friends and new… Well, that may be exaggerating a bit, what with less wine and more vodka, but ’twas a wonderful night. And now another year begins…
It’s strange to think that nearly 10 years to the day, I moved to Sydney from the countryside. Year 7 would start in a few weeks, and in many ways, I was in transition. Nearly 6 years ago, I moved to Melbourne, no longer the country boy but equally lost and in transition. Each time I have moved, I’ve grown in more than just the physical sense, gaining abilities to adapt I believe serve me well. Last year, it was fiscal responsibility and discipline that I had to learn, along with a host of survival and organisational skills.
2006 all up was a good year, there’s no doubt about that. I never set resolutions because I react far more than I plan, but I always set long-term goals at regular intervals, and 2006 had me filling in many boxes. So, my list made in 2002 has now been by and large fulfilled, and within my schedule too.
Thus, I must ask myself: What now?
I find myself at something of a crossroads. It would be easy to settle in here and let life take me where it would. But that would be passive, too straightforward. I must set my goals again, renew my commitment to those last few left unfilled and create new stars to reach for. Push the sky, the upper limit on my capabilities so that I continue to grow.
But most of all, I must thank you all once more for being there in 2006, not to mention for being there in the years before. Knowing you have a social network to count on is everything once you leave the controlled environments of university or school, and I’ve got a great bunch of friends.
The suitcase was put away today, the contents having found their way to the spin cycle. I’m still not out of the traveller mindset completely, with many things scattered across my bedroom awaiting proper organisation of some sort. Jet lag appears to have waited for a day, finally catching up yesterday and delivering a right thumping to my ability to stay awake at work.
So much has happened over the last 10 weeks at work; while it’s not totally unfamiliar, it’s certainly something of a reset from the comfortable groove I had found myself in before I left for London. I’m re-learning all those little shortcuts that you invariably pick up over time. A couple of faces have gone in the (relatively) short time I was away, which is a little sad. The sun is still up when I leave work, which is awesome, but feels somehow wrong.
Home is no less different. Dad’s been living up here in Sydney for the most part, and he’s brought his touch to the place. The whole house has been painted afresh, the garden is suddenly looking a lot healthier, and things are slightly moved or reordered. It’s home, but then again it’s not quite, which puts me back in that traveller’s mind. I’m flying to Melbourne on Thursday night, for the weekend and the party, which also reinforces that.
My boss more-or-less said, first thing when I came in, that I can probably drop plans to go to New York for work next year – a more useful and challenging position is likely, and that’s in London from April. I almost wanted to walk out the door and start packing again, rather than getting used to home for another 6 months.
The sense of not-quite-being-there is also evidenced by this post, which has taken nearly 3 days to write anything marginally cohesive and/or coherent. William Gibson once described the condition of jetlag as “soul-lag”, that basically your ‘soul’ doesn’t travel at the speed of an aeroplane, and so it’ll take a long time for your soul to catch up. I find that particularly insightful at times. Being stuck in a metal tube for nearly a whole day which is seemingly forever static and forever awash in white noise makes a person more inclined to believing such things as ‘soul-lag’.
Or maybe it’s just me.
I want out. I’m over this whole training program, I’m over London, I’m over waking up each morning in that hotel bed, over catching that same over-crowded tube every morning, over this little niggly things that get to you when they build up some steam over time.
I’m over the taste of the water, which is crap. I’m over the crap food. I’m over the old buildings. I’m over the lack of good options for lunch. Over autumn in October, over talking platitudes all the time, over the grey skies and tiny streets and the sheer quaintness of it all.
I just want to get home and sleep in my bed and watch my familiar TV and play my familiar games and eat my familiar food. I’ve never missed mum’s food like I do now. I’m waiting, waiting waiting to be back home, back with the family, back with my old friends, habits ever unchanging. I want to get back to my car and drive down to the beach and jump in the water and enjoy the sun.
Living in a different country is something I’ve always wanted to do.
And when I’m not feeling like I just want to go home and lie down, I’m loving the fact that I am here, that I have so many people around who are always willing to get out and about and have fun, that I am so centrally placed in a large city with a comprehensive transport network, that all this is basically a holiday and the last chance I’ll really get to learn new things in a classroom-esque environment (though I never feel that I could return to study). It’s like I’m bipolar about it.
And I really know that all I need is some good food from mum (and all the things that go with that) to solve the problem, dammit.