I caught up with some former work colleagues for lunch the other day. We used to work together in the same team a few years ago but everyone has moved on to other jobs in the institution, it’s just me who’s still in the original team. But every now and then we get a date that suits everyone and we leave the building and walk down to the falafel stall and get falafel lunch. (Is it the best falafel stall in London? Maybe not, but my mouth starts watering whenever I think about eating there.)
I missed our last get together because my niece and sister in law were over from Australia and they happened to only be free for lunch on the same day at the same time. So it had been a while since the four of us had lunch together. Usually we can only get two or maximum three at a time. First thing was to catch up on everyone’s news.
B is getting married. No solid date yet but she and her boyfriend have finally decided to certify their union after many years together. Although the planning is going very slowly – no dates or venues or anything yet. I’d missed the announcement of this last time as K had already recommended a venue run by her friend.
G is just back from a two week holiday. Rather than flying to her home country with the kids this year she took the train. Eurostar to Eurodisney (the kids loved it but she was not impressed) and then in to Salzburg which was great. They saw a marionette show and did a tour of the salt mines because – doh! – Salzburg translates as salt town. (This has never occurred to me.) And because the kids were plugged into movies on the train wi-fi, she got to read two whole books and relax.
K has been running a traditional sweet stall at a market for the past few months and it’s been going really well. Now she is looking into getting a proper shop on a villagey high street in south London. But it depends on what she can agree with the shop owner in terms of lease and pricing. He’s being difficult and no budging on terms.
And then someone said, “What’s going on in your life, Michelle?” and I felt that weird, sad feeling that everyone else was growing and moving on and I was just stuck. Same team and pretty much same job and no exciting outside activities.
But I could have talked about the speakers club I’ve organised, I could have talked about how I’m looking forward to a trip to South Africa in October, I could have talked about how it’s been quite a social summer, seeing lots of comedy locally and catching up with friends we don’t see very often. I could even have said that I’m trying to get my fitness back on track after being sick earlier in the year.
Instead I had a little whinge about how I am not letting work get to me anymore and I have a countdown now by when things have to change or I have to leave. I was so down and joyless that even I didn’t want to listen to me.
Why couldn’t I feed off everyone else’s happiness and feel happy? Why did their happiness make me feel sad? Why did I feel like I was at a job interview needing to list my strength and weaknesses? It was a lunch with friends, for heaven’s sake. The sun was shining, it was a lovely day, the falafel was tasty. I should have been happy like everyone else. It’s not like there is a finite amount of happiness going around and they took it all, leaving none for me.
We’re having another lunch next week (cafeteria is closed for summer cleaning and refurbishment). I need to shake all this negative stuff out of my head before then.