When I had gotten fed up with my job I would have loved to go back to University and get it right this time. I went so far as to research what I would have liked to have studied. I got it into my head the architecture would have been a good choice for me, something real to study towards instead of these fluffy degrees with no careers at the end of them.
I was quite excited about the idea, however it turned out that it wasn’t going to be an option for me. I started enquiring about the process of applying to University as a mature student since I’d recently turned 25. That’s when I found out that I wouldn’t be eligible to apply for student finance, since ‘technically’ I was expelled from University. Although I decided to quit when I left University back when I was 19 I apparently hadn’t filled out the necessary paperwork which resulted in an expulsion for failing to attend. At the time I never thought that would affect me so I never challenged it.
I was stuck. Worse still, I was stuck in a relatively good job. Sure I found it mind-numbingly boring since I’d been doing the same thing for nearly 5 years, yet the pay was good and the job was easy. The hours could be a pain in the arse sometimes but if I left and wanted to stay in Somerset my options would be bleak. I desperately wanted a new challenge career wise but nothing was available in our office and I was too comfortable to consider leaving for another company.
So who was going back to school? Well, that would be Lara. I had listened for a while now about Lara lamenting over her career predicament. She was stuck in what she considered to be a dead-end job as a lifeguard, occasionally an opportunity would come up to be a duty manager but Lara didn’t feel that was what she really wanted to do. In her time in this role she’d also explored other activities, become a climbing instructor at one point and looked after several other activities but over time she got bored.
Lara found a course at a local college that she wanted to do, with an idea of eventually going to University and improving her career prospects. She was going to study Sports Science and step down to part-time hours with her day job. I was supportive of her ambition, and having had experience of University I’m not ashamed to admit I was a little worried about what might happen further down the road when distance would play a factor in our relationship, not helped by Lara’s track record of a lust for attention from others.
I overrode this thought so that I could be there for her when it mattered, she was making some big changes and it was bound to be a bit daunting. She was a little worried about being the only person over 20 in her class, the rest of them would all be between 16 and 19. Lara also doubted her ability to do well, I talked her up a great deal to make her realise that if she put enough effort into it, there’s no reason she couldn’t ace every single assignment.
When Lara broke the news to her parents her Dad was really supportive, while her Mum negotiated her rent down since she’d have a smaller income now, but otherwise was really supportive and seemed to enjoy the idea that Lara would be going to University in the near future. Over the next few years Lara realised she might have to go without things that she’d become used to, like paying out for a new tattoo each year, or our regular trips abroad. Lara could worry about money like no-one else and would often say she had none if she had less than £500 in the bank, being a poor student would be a bit of a wake up call. We prepared for that as much as we could.
Lara was now enrolled and would be starting college in September. I realised I mentioned Lara’s tattoos just now when I haven’t thought of them before. It now brings something back to me that I had almost forgotten about. I have no idea how many tattoos she has these days, but she was on her way to covering her legs up pretty well back then. On one leg she had some large nautical stars going up her shin, a smaller collection of stars on her ankle, a floral design on the other shin, some Chinese calligraphy on her shoulder, a sparrow just above her elbow and a pegasus design on the small of her back and just one other.
Some of these were new additions since we had been together and I often accompanied her to the tattoo parlour, I’ve always been tempted to get one myself and have often drawn up designs for what I would want done. I’m quite arty and I like to doodle, one day Lara asked me to design a tattoo for her, so I did. I drew another lot of flowers that she could have tattooed on her calf muscle. In total 13 entwined Hawaiian hibiscus flowers in shades of grey. It’s been years now since we split up and she has to live with that now. I suppose it’s not as bad as having someone’s name tattooed on you or getting matching designs, yet it’s still there forever, a permanent reminder.
Anyway enough of that off topic nonsense. Lara was going back to school, she was nervous and excited and looking to the future. I was left wondering about how I could progress my career, since I couldn’t go back to Uni. I decided to buck up my ideas at work one last time and try to get promoted in the next couple of years. It had to be worth a try, I had tried before and gotten no where, 5 years later they had to acknowledge that I’d paid my dues, right?
It wasn’t long before Ryan and Gemma had decided on a date for their wedding, they didn’t plan on getting married until 2012, which gave them more than a year to save up and plan for their big day. They dropped the bombshell quite early on that I was going to be bridesmaid. That more than anything set the idea burning in my mind that now was the time to start losing weight. I had no idea how I was going to achieve that with my food phobias, but I was going to try.
During this time you might think that all the changes would have given Lara and I a kickstart, got us out of our boring relationship routine, you’d be wrong. Our relationship was consistently boring, we had tried things like talking to each other less throughout the day so that we actually had something to say to each other when we were home in the evenings. Lara started playing rugby, I laughed at this to begin with, she can be such a pansy at times that it was hard to imagine her playing such a physical sport, but she loved it. I thought that by having more of a life of our own we might enjoy each other more. For the first time I started going out to works parties and the random nights out they sometimes did after pay-day. Yet none of it made any difference when it came to us. I didn’t know what to do anymore and I’d almost given up trying.