My fitness routine was going strong and I was feeling good about myself. I had stopped obsessing about my failing relationship with Lara, in fact for the most part I just turned a blind eye to my own dissatisfaction. We were great friends Lara and I, but there wasn’t much left between us anymore. We kept going through the motions and for an easy life neither of us said or did anything about it.
There were times when our routine would include exciting prospects, like planning out next gay family holiday with Heidi and Daryl. The very idea of a holiday gives you something special to look forward to so you don’t even really notice that the process of booking a holiday each year has become a part of your rut. This year the four of us booked up for a trip to Bulgaria during August, since Lara had gone back to school, and so had Daryl. Daryl was studying nursing at a local University, so cheap off-peak holidays were to be a thing of the past.
August seemed like a long way off and I wasn’t sure if Lara and I were going to get our second holiday this year, especially now that she was working part time and had to fit it in around college and work. As it happened there were some tentative plans about another camping trip to Cornwall and we managed to book a weekend away to visit Alton towers with Lara’s sister and her boyfriend.
Most of 2011 has faded from my memory, that is until we got to June. This was the month when we spent the weekend away, planned our trip to Bulgaria and I felt we had a moment when we actually got to reconnect. Going to theme parks had become a regular activity for us, as in once or twice a year a group of us would all head off to Thorpe Park for the day, we’d get the souvenir photographs and get soaked on the water rides, always screaming like girls. This year we wanted to go somewhere different so when Lara’s sister invited us along to Alton Towers we were up for it.
I can safely say now that the trip up to the midlands was a great memory. The way that we got along and enjoyed being together restored my faith in us, validated exactly why I was still with Lara after all these years and all the months of tedium. We listened to cheesy music on the long drive up, singing along with the best pop songs the 90’s had to offer, we went on every roller coaster at the theme park, the ones that Lara and her sister were too chicken to go on were left to the rest of us. I was thrilled to have lost so much weight in the run up to this trip, I’m not joking when I say there are some rides that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able ti fit on.
Lara was attentive the whole time we were away, it stood out to me because for the first time in months I truly felt like I was her girlfriend. I wasn’t the ‘best friend’ or the person she felt too embarrassed to introduce to anyone as her girlfriend. There were no silly games, we all just had a good time. The hotel we were staying at was in the middle of nowhere really, and they had an all you can eat buffet restaurant. We made the most of that and all regretted it almost instantly, we were completely bloated and feeling like a walk would be just the thing to recover.
The four of us set off around this town/village that we were staying in. We decided to do a circuit of the neighbourhood. It started off really quietly walking through a commercial area full of business units on the outskirts where the hotel was, eventually we reached a residential estate and started thinking about looping back in the direction of the hotel. By this point it was pure guess work as we attempted to navigate our way back to the hotel and it wasn’t long before we were lost.
Eventually Lara’s sister started to use the GPS on her iPhone to attempt to steer us in the right direction. However we ended up following it blindly down some country lane with nothing but a farm house at the end of it and a dog that didn’t look too welcoming. As we saw it we had two options, continue ahead and cut across the field back to the main road that would shortly have us back at the hotel or begin to double back and look for an alternative route. We were inhibited in our decision making process, since every time we went to take a step forward the dog would bark, we couldn’t tell if it was a friendly collie just saying hello or a territorial collie saying back off.
Eventually we plucked up enough courage to walk briskly past the dog and over the farmland to the road ahead. As soon as we approached the hotel from this side we could see quite clearly a public footpath that we’d noticed earlier that probably would have shaved a good half hour off our trek back to the hotel. That made us all laugh.
All in all it had been a great weekend. During the drive home and the weeks that followed I was taking stock of life in general and I was much happier than I had been at the start of the year. For months, maybe even years I felt like my whole life was just fading into oblivion. I had no direction at all, not when it came to improving my lifestyle, my career or my relationship. Yet here I was six months later and everything was looking much better. I felt like I had everything I’d been asking for from Lara again, I just hoped it would continue, my career was still an issue and my healthy lifestyle was speaking for itself.
Since it was June my career was at a pivotal point, I’d been assigned to a new team leader in recent months and I thought everything had been going well. That was until our end of year reviews (I know it’s weird they do them in June). Mine was awful and I just couldn’t understand why, I had been working my arse off trying to do everything that was asked of me and more. I was often entrusted with extra responsibilities and it seemed like no matter what I did I just couldn’t get ahead. This had been a pattern itself, regardless of who ever my team leader had been and I had finally had enough of it. I wrote down all my grievances in an informal complaint and asked for them to be addressed or I’d have no choice but to take it further. I was very careful with how I proceeded since I didn’t want to get myself in trouble, but it was high time things changed for me at work and people acknowledged that I actually did care about my job and did a bloody good job too.
In a glowing testament to my team leader at the time, she handled the complaint remarkably well once the initial shock had subsided. We had a couple of facilitated sessions with the office manager that got us singing from the same hymn sheet and for me the change was like night and day. The coming weeks at work soon became a pleasure, my relationship with my team leader couldn’t have been better, and less than a month later she put me forward for an opportunity that would change my life forever.
My team leader had heard of a secondment based in our West London office. The department had already acquired a couple of colleagues from our office here in Somerset over the years and had a good reputation. Previously I would have been wary about spending any extended period of time away from Lara and my family, imagining the strain it might put on our relationship. However during this time everything was going so well it seemed like now was the time to do it. I agreed to spend the whole month of July up in London working on a trial, I thought it would just be something new and different to alleviate the monotony of my day-job. In reality it was so much more than that. My career would no longer fade into oblivion.