As ever, when anything changes in my life, I descend into introspection.
For no particular reason, I start to find my gilded existence tragic, and turn
into a navel-gazing drama queen,
nervously necking champagne at a wedding and sloping off home in tears because they’re playing Oasis and I have just drunkenly stepped on my own toes with my gold heels (no
doubt a very elegant-looking dance manoeuvre).
The changes: having decided that the ivory towers of
full-time employment at a global bank were not enough for me, I have started
off a new career working for my own company. I now perform services for clients
that they don’t want to perform themselves, in exchange for an
exorbitant daily rate. The service in question is of course project management.
In a sort of coincidental volte-face, I also became single again, rather than feeling trapped in someone else’s reality that I didn’t really
So with my newfound freedom, I should be very happy indeed.
My evenings are my own, I am healthy and young enough to enjoy a range of
activities, I have a wide variety of good friends, and my parents are both
still alive and relatively well.
Theoretically, I could pack up my entire life into a storage
container tomorrow, and disappear into the sunset (or in fact the sunrise,
since I want to head East). This is an opportunity few people my age still have.
But all I keep thinking about is all the colleagues I have left behind in my
old job, and the ties of obligation I feel to work as part of a team. They were
people I liked, and the small developments of their lives were
part of a slow tapestry of developing friendship; their new babies and children’s
schools and bossy wives or slightly unreliable husbands; the lunchtime runs and
political banter we all enjoyed. It was at that point where you have spent long
enough with your colleagues to be on the cusp of true loyalty. At such a
juncture, leaving voluntarily seems like quite a personal betrayal, and
it is not the first time I have done it.
A jumble of guilt and regret nags away in my head. It was
all in aid of my plan to get together enough money from contract work to take
six months off: this burning desire to see the Himalayas, to climb them, to
swim in the Pacific every day for weeks on end, and then travel on, anywhere,
I think of that phrase from the Lord of the Rings – “One
Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in
the darkness bind them”, and think of my own grubby scramble for the money
that I think can buy my freedom, so glib in my little explanations about how I
was made an offer I could not refuse. This money is precious indeed, and now
I am ironically bound by it (and some pretty hard work) for at least a year if I want my middle class definition