Memories

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CC Image courtesy of kcr@in on FlickrThe most precious – and arguably the most delusional – thing VP ever said to me was over dinner in a restaurant just off Trafalgar Square. It was our third date. He was asking me about my job and I was being vague, unwilling to reveal the mindlessness of my day-to-day employment to this dazzling Renaissance man. And that’s when he said it.

‘I imagine you’re well-liked at work.’

I resisted the urge to pull a face. ‘Er… I hope so.’

 

I went to a wedding the other day. In her speech the bride said of her husband, ‘He makes me be the best version of myself’.

 

Now, when I’m having a really shitty day at work and a colleague comes over to ask me a perfectly reasonable question and I want to snap and scowl, I remember VP’s words.

 

After dinner we crossed the river, walked west and sat on a bench kissing and sharing stories in the shadow of Big Ben.

 

I’ll never forget the nights we spent together but I’ll treasure more what he said to me as we sat across from one another, my hand in his, fingers interlacing.

CC Image courtesy of Sangre-La.com on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of tanakawho on FlickrThis is a love letter to the men who remind me it’s worth holding out for love. For someone wonderful. For someone who looks at you like you are their world.

Tall, slender Tobias with his stripy socks, throwing around words like ‘Brechtian’ that I’ve stopped pretending to understand. He became a father recently and he will be wonderful at it.

‘You’re the only person I’ve told that story to who got what I meant!’ This is Tristan. When he says things like that I don’t know whether to punch him or throw my arms around him.

Felix is a funny one, literally. When he joined the team I was wary in case I fell for him again, which I did. He makes me smile everyday.

I don’t know how Adrien became my agony aunt, but he did. This is him at his absolute best. He’s beautiful and bright and when I’m having a shit day he puts a bit of rope and a post-it with ‘Bye’ written on it on my desk and then I don’t feel so bad.

This is a love letter to the men I see everyday. Thank God.

CC Image courtesy of CocoMunkii on Flickr

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It’s with mixed feelings that I ride the lift up to the fifth floor. Aside from the odd slip – queuing for returns for a play that I hoped would give me greater insight into Tristan’s medical history, and talking wistfully of him to my long-suffering friend and hostess (‘it’s… it’s like we can read each other’s minds!’) – aside from the odd slip, the past week has been delightfully free of unrequited longing. I even spent an evening in the company of a man who was both nice and – brace yourself – single and who I’d like to see again, though the jury’s out on whether he feels the same way.

Approaching the glass, pass in hand, I feel a little thrill of joy. Up there are two men who make my heart sing – and a job that makes my stomach drop.

The lift doors open onto the fifth floor. I put my pass to the scanner. The thrill has faded into nothingness. I keep my gaze dead ahead.

‘Anna!’

I look round and there he is, making the silly gesturing movements I have come to love so much.

‘How was your holiday?’

‘Good,’ I say, grinning.

‘Oh of course, you went to Edinburgh.’

Yes. Where he’s just been himself. Has he really only just remembered this fact?

‘What did you see?’ he says.

‘Some of the things you did, probably.’

‘Did you manage to see–?’

‘Yes.’

‘Was it–?’

‘Overrated.’ We laugh. ‘I still don’t know which show you’re talking about!’

‘Overrated could apply to lots of the things I saw.’ He frowns. ‘I had quite a lean Fringe.’

‘Yeah I know what you mean. I only saw one thing which I thought–.’

Tobias appears round the corner. ‘Welcome back! Did you go to Vienna?’

‘No, Edinburgh.’

Right now I feel like I’ve gone to heaven.

CC Image courtesy of Indrik myneur on Flickr

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CC Image courtesy of comedy_nose on FlickrBasically you’re fucked, is the gist of the Wikihow article, ‘How to get over a crush on your coworker’.

Friday I go into work with a slight hangover and a firm resolution. The night before was the work summer party, which meant two hours of trying not to make eye contact with either Tristan or Tobias. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun it was.

I keep my eyes fixed on the screen as Tristan chats to a couple of colleagues sitting close by. I hear him say he’ll get his exam results that evening, but don’t look up. I am not going to end up in one of those conversations with him where we’re laughing so much we can’t breathe. I am–

‘Anna.’ He’s coming over. ‘Hey. So, did you go to the club afterwards?’

‘Yes.’

‘You did?!’

‘Yes.’

‘Amazing!’

He puts out his hand to high five me and meets limp fingers. If this whole not meeting him halfway thing is supposed to make me feel better, it isn’t working.

I think he’s about to leave but then he steers the conversation in a different direction. Minutes later we’re laughing so much there’s no point trying to continue and he does leave.

Later that night I’m on a train homeward bound, catching up on phone admin. The message I sent Tristan the night before asking if he was still at the party is before my eyes. A thought occurs to me and I start typing. Moments later, a reply: he passed his exams with flying colours and is out celebrating. I send back congratulations, stow my phone away and stare out of the train window, feeling my eyes prick with tears.

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The Fall

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‘He told me to move,’ Ryan says. ‘He said, ‘I want to talk to Anna’.’

‘Oh!’

I look over at the man who supposedly wants to talk to me. This is surely what my mother and flatmate would call a clear sign of… not interest – that wouldn’t fit in the circumstances – but something. I pick up my things and go over to him.

Once seated I become the sole focus of his attention. It’s wonderful. We talk about everything: pets, smoking, Woody Allen films, Cate Blanchett, online dating

‘You’re on Tinder?’ he says, surprised.

‘Yes, well, everyone is – aren’t they?’

‘Well, I’m not, but I’m married…’

 

The previous autumn there was a leaving drinks for one of our colleagues. Cheesecake was served.

‘Who made it?’ I say, taking a slice.

Tobias‘s wife.’

 

‘What?!’

Colleague looks disbelieving when I tell her. Her funky dairy-free diet doesn’t permit cheesecake, but even harder to digest is the news that Tobias – elegant, stylish Tobias – has a wife.

 

For six months or so after finding this out I was invincible. No matter that his gaze made me weak at the knees or that we crossed paths in the kitchen too often for it to be a coincidence. The guy had a wife, and one who baked decent cheesecake at that.

I was invincible when he told Ryan to move in the pub so he could talk to me; when he brought in a DVD of one of the films we’d talked about for me to borrow; when he told me about his family’s history of divorce, about his father’s second marriage to a much younger woman. I was even invincible when he offered to relieve me of some of my workload.

Then, one day, he came over to talk to Gus at the neighbouring desk.

He has a strange way of walking: hurried, impatient, not quite graceful. His hair sticks up a bit at the back and his eyes have this intense, brooding expression.

I look up from what I’m doing and meet his gaze. And that’s when it happens. I fall. Fuck, do I fall.

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