the stickiness of regret

A week on from deciding, faux assertively, that no, I would not be pursuing my application for the job in the city of London, I can’t shake off the heavily lingering sense of what if?  Regret.  Opportunity lay before me and I (stubbornly, stupidly?) slammed it shut.

Much of the week I spent in the office of a hiring company where I’ve spent most of this year, trying to be effective in the summer lull, feeling threatened by the conscience of my own effectiveness.   Also feeling threatened and stupid about withdrawing my application, watching and overhearing the hiring manager negotiate a salary considerably fatter than one I would have initially accepted.  “Companies have been distraught when I have left” the apparently highly confident lady candidate had appealed her case to my colleague, negotiating her salary upwards.

Was she that much better than me? I wondered.  More confident in her own abilities, without doubt.  Better at selling herself, clearly, the bluster and bullshit.  That matters so much.

There was a mild hot flush of panic shortly after lunch one day.  What was I doing here?  What was I doing with my life?  Why had I passed up that opportunity?  Such things didn’t come around that often; hardly ever. Idiot.  What would happen now?  Would we become a pair of bores who always talk about leaving a place or going travelling but never actually do?

The office was hot, I felt my heart rate go up for no apparent reason, I struggled to focus, adjust my eyes from screens (how I resent screens) to office, I was reminded of the probably entirely unrelated tingling down one arm after my morning swim.  I breathed deeply a few times, walked to the gents and sat on the toilet, closed my eyes, calmed myself and eventually it passed.

After work that day I went to the quieter upstairs room of a cheap pub and shamefully bought two drinks: a pint and a large whisky.  The numbing effect of the latter felt divine.  I sat in a corner booth with my drinks and read a book on my Kindle, eyes glazing over pages, attention levels fading in and out.  Alcohol can temporarily remove the sharp edges from life in a heavenly and entirely necessary way.

We still want out of here, me and her.  She has been away a couple of days this week and is currently back at her family home, trying to take yet another baby-step in the seemingly neverending journey to making that ghost-house sellable.  Her aged cat has health problems every other week which she has to return to, tend to and pay for.  Because her brother who lives there never will.  I constantly battle to fend off cruel remarks which bubble up in my head.

After investing a lot in camera gear this summer, a frustrating piece of administration is keeping me from returning to a stadium this weekend, where I itch to return. So today, this afternoon, right now, I remain trapped inside my head, worrying, fretting, being nervous and scared.

Possibly, probably we do want London.  She is increasingly persuaded, and growing in confidence in terms of sending applications.  But getting an acceptable, half decent job through conventional channels feels overwhelmingly difficult.  I’ve seen horrible statistics reflecting how hard it is to apply for a position online and get a job.  It needs more: recommendations, connections, friends in right places, help.

Then there’s everything else.  Finding somewhere habitable and not extortionate to live…

And so the sense of floundering is back stronger than ever.  The sense of wanting something that’s really difficult to achieve – a sense I’m not unfamiliar with.  I wonder if I’ll always struggle with that lazy adolescent fug of just wanting life to suddenly happen to you please, hoping for a sudden chain-reaction of good fortune and opportunities, discovery or recognition, something to flip your life on its head in a positive way.


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