This isn’t about weightloss, for once. But let me just share the stats quickly. I’ve passed the nine stone lost mark. Tomorrow it’ll be five months since my operation. I now weight exactly 19 stone, so I’ve lost nine stone two pounds (that’s 128 pounds or 58 kilos). It feels great. I’ve lost a whole person and I feel better literally every single day.
Now, to the main business of today’s blog post. For the last two years, I’ve essentially had two jobs. I had my day job and I had my freelance proofreading gig. I’ve needed both. My main job paid my rent for my lovely flat and my proofreading paid for everything else. London is expensive. And I chose to live in a nice big flat and I chose to live alone, so I didn’t make life cheap for myself, and having two jobs was exhausting, but it was worth it. On a typical day, I’d do about half an hour of proofreading before going to work and then maybe an hour or two in the evenings when I got home. There were times when I felt like I was working 24 hours a day.
Then, in November, the proofreading began to dry up. It didn’t go completely, but the steady river of work turned into a trickle. I went from averaging about €1000 a month to about €200 a month, so even though I got a pay rise from my main job, I was still down by hundreds a month. Last month, for the first time in two years, I missed a loan repayment to my Irish bank.
And then I got an email from an acquaintance, suggesting I apply for a job at her company. I did, on a whim. And I got an interview and it went well and I’ve been invited back for a second interview this week, a more informal chance to “meet the team”. It’s all looking very positive. There’s a good chance I’ll get the job.
And it’s exciting and it’s breaking my heart. It feels like fate, that this job walks up to me and knocks on my door at a moment in my life when I needed more money. But the idea of leaving my current job upsets me.
I remember two and a half years ago, sitting in Cork airport, waiting for my flight to London (via Copenhagen – I left for London in such a rush that the cheapest way to get there from Ireland was to go via Denmark.) I distinctly remember my whole body sighing. I was so excited at the thought of an adventure. Of a big city. Of a new life. But at the same time, I had this feeling of “here I go again”. Like when I was 22 and moved to Poland or 25 and moved to Dublin or 29 and became a full-time student again or 33 and moved to Vietnam or 34 and moved to Longford. Here I go again. Another suitcase in another hall. I felt rootless. I felt alone. I felt that this was my last chance, that I was down to my final reserves of bravery and that this had to be my last big move.
And the first months in London were so worth it. So, so worth it. But they were hard as well. I lived in a succession of shitty hostels. I had part-time hours of teaching and then training and I had online work but I constantly ran out of money. But I was electrified by London. I slept with so many men when I arrived. I did things I’d never done before. I woke up in TravelLodges with strange men and got late night trains and buses back to my hostel from the flats of kinky men in West Dulwich and East Ham and Clapham and Highbury and it was a brand new life. I started going to West End shows and sobbed at Mamma Mia that I was finally really here and really living a life of dreamed of. I went to my first gay sauna. It was all amazing.
But it wasn’t a settled life. My first birthday in London, I treated myself to an expensive hostel near St Paul’s Cathedral that had clean showers. I was sharing a room with five others and I spent most of the day idly browsing the internet. I considered contacting some old friends in London and asking if they wanted to do something for my birthday, but I’m bad at staying in touch with people so I didn’t. But I couldn’t spend my birthday alone, so I worked Grindr and GROWLr for a few hours until I found a man. I wasn’t going to be alone. I went to his flat where he stripped me and forced me onto my knees and slapped me and put a gimp mask over my head and forced poppers on me and it was thrilling and degrading and I was lonely so I accepted that as my birthday treat.
That’s not my life any more. I have real people in my life now. I love the people I work with. I now see them outside of work too. I don’t need to have a maths teacher in North London rough me up so I’m not alone. It would be such a wrench to leave the place and people that I love. I know I’m good at my job. I’ve carved a niche for myself there. I look forward to going in every day. I genuinely love my colleagues. And I know I wouldn’t lose the friends I’ve made if I left, but I also know that it would be different. And that’s a change I’m afraid of.
But fate seems to be speaking to me. And it’s not just the money. I wrote last week about how I’ve been reading and writing more and getting more curious, about how I’m better able to concentrate and better able to remember things and working faster. This job would be more academic than my current one. It would be a new challenge. I spent a long time being scared of academic work after being burned during my PhD. But I don’t feel scared any more. I’m ready for this. Working in the world of CELTA is very much my safe space. And I like it. But I think it’s time to leave that comfort zone. A new adventure would be good.
At least until I make my break and achieve true stardom.