London, United Kingdom
OK, now it’s getting too close for comfort and my powers of denial are being forced by the wayside with the first of my impossible goodbyes.
I caught the tube back to Camden for lunch with my Elsevierians – Debbie, Mary, Vic and Dan who is heading off tomorrow on a trip to Germany for some sport watching. We went to Hache for yet more amazing gourmet burgers and light conversation but beneath it all, I could feel an undertow pulling me closer minute by minute towards the inevitable. We finished lunch and reluctantly walked back towards the office. I strolled arm in arm with Dan with a certain awkwardness that comes from having too much and nothing to say. It had all come around too quickly, we hadn’t spend enough time, I had wanted to go on a trip with him to Belgium but here we were at the bottom of the hourglass.
When I left London the second time having met and worked with Dan for three and a half years, I was so inconsolable at saying goodbye that the bartender gave me free beer (never mind that the tears were probably at least 70% oranjeboom already). This time we were stone cold sober and he had a meeting to get to. We hugged and he was gone. It was so sudden that I think I was shocked into a state of decorum and able to bid my next farewell to Mary with hopefully a little more dignity (though Mary knows me better than that, there’s no dignity between friends!). I would see Vic tonight and Debbie is locked in for tomorrow. Our group dispersed and I once again left the Elsevier office like the bad penny that keeps showing up.
I spent the rest of the day in a bit of a daze trying to keep a lid on this growing sense of foreboding just so I can go about doing all I must to get through this next inevitable barrier. Vic and Pete have been very willing accomplices in this game of self-deceipt – should any of our conversations even remotely veer towards the events of the coming days (we don’t mention what that is directly), it’s met with a dismissive snort at the ridiculousness of any other possible outcome than me living with them for the rest of our days.
Tonight, for no particular reason and definitely not because this is our last meal in together, Pete made his famous Hidden Treasure – it was de-lic-ious! But there’s no denying that the real treasures were the ones sharing it with me, pretending tomorrow isn’t going to come.