The following is a diary entry I wrote in March 2017 after leaving my job in London and trying out a new life in Spain.
The metaphorical journey to Spain was no less simple and straightforward than the physical journey to Spain itself. Although I had almost left my two suitcases in the doorway of a friend’s flat in Victoria the night before, the procedure the following morning from Clapham North to Calle Elvira, a street in Granada, was without any major blunders.
My first thoughts when stepping off the plane were a combination of “where exactly are we?” and “what now?”, for I had no idea of what airport we had arrived at or what journey we must now take to get to the city, or in fact where we were to stay. I suppose it is only my fault for not asking these seemingly crucial questions, but the point is, quite frankly, I didn’t care where we were or where we were going. I just wanted to go somewhere, anywhere would do. Anywhere other than London, which wasn’t offering any immediate respite from it’s own claustrophobic environment and unnecessarily high rent against salary ratio. London had been fun in the lead up to my departure, but unfortunately ‘fun’ and being out-of-pocket around the clock do not go hand-in-hand. I was also well into my twenty-third year on the planet - some would even say I’m an adult now. I simply had to get away, and moreover, I had to re-evaluate.
The air was warm and clammy. I always look forward to the first gush of hot, unstirred air once off the plane, which is difficult to process for any British set of lungs. What we know most of all, is air colder than our own breath - the kind that when you were a child you would exhale to look like you were smoking in order to mimic your parents or your undeserving year-eight idols that you put on a pedestal at secondary school, for reasons you no longer understand. On the occasional hot summer’s day in London, the air is so riddled with pollution that you try not to inhale it at all. It wasn’t ‘hot like Ibiza in July’ air, but it was considerably more satisfying that the frozen blizzard that almost toppled me over the rails of the stairs to the plane back at Gatwick, and blew my boarding pass out from my very hands and sent it fluttering into the path of the aeroplane’s jet engine. Even the Spanish air in Spring feels tropical compared to what we were leaving behind. I was wearing the same make-up from the night before, in fact I was wearing the same clothes also. Needless to say, 5am starts don’t agree with me. The only way I could meet this one successfully and arrive at the airport without significant blunder, was to enter and leave the bed in the exact same state - physically and mentally - and continue my precious sleep from the confines of the heated taxi.
I can’t quite depict the moment I first considered leaving my job and escaping to a country that almost all British people seem to attempt to escape to at some point in their lives. I’d never expect I would ever try to stay out here for a long period of time, nor was I especially attracted to doing so in Spain. Paris, Scandinavia, rural Italy - any of them would have sufficed. I also knew not a word of Spanish, and to be perfectly honest, I still don’t, but since I am virtually illiterate in every language other than my English mother tongue, I didn’t see this fact as an issue of any particular significance. I can however, depict the exact moment this choice became a definite certainty. We were spending a weekend in the Surrey Hills (the initial but fictional landing spot of the Martians from The War of the Worlds), and I had told myself that during that specific weekend I would decide on whether to stay at my job, or simply vacate the country. The offer was there, the world was my oyster. The birds were chirping, they were telling me what to do. I was heavily intoxicated for the first evening of our stay, and spent the rest of the weekend recovering, but somewhere deep, deep within my self-pitied hangover and a luke-warm bath, I pledged to myself that I would hand in my resignation and scarper for the hills of Granada.
My job had left me feeling bewildered. Puzzled about myself and what I was doing on this Earth, I felt as though I was falling further and further into existential despair, but remained totally nonchalant on the surface. Or at least that is how I hoped I would be perceived. The motto I try to live my life by is: “and whatever you do, act completely nonchalant.”* I’m not sure it has done me any favours so far, but I think acting nonchalant is just a good way of gathering your true thoughts and feelings on certain topics before something inaccurate and irrational has had a chance to rear its ugly head. Well that’s what I was doing this time last year, I have a slightly different outlook now.
It was only by divine chance that as soon as I would return to the office the following Monday, I would be invited to a meeting with the CEO of the company I worked for. This is the second one-on-one conversation we had engaged in, other than “hello” and “how are you?” pleasantries in the office corridors, the only other time I had spoken to him about my job and how it was going was after my first week, almost half a year beforehand. In short, the CEO told me that he had noticed I was unhappy in my position (I thought I had been acting nonchalant), and that myself working alone while my boss worked overseas in New York was simply not working. I could have told him that would have been the case for free. He told me that unfortunately - and with remorse - he would be issuing my notice, and that in exactly one month I would be set free from the shackles of my (at times) overwhelming and unachievable responsibilities, and cast back into the sea of unemployment from whence he had fished me from not so long before. He offered to set me up with some of his valuable contacts, in a hope to find me new work. I left, after not saying much and dashed home to my flatmates to share the news of my contract termination. Upon exclaiming that I had been fired (I preferred to use the word ‘fired’ for dramatic effect), I felt a tear of joy leave my right eye. What a blessed thing it is, to be relieved of a job you already planned to leave, without having to fill in the required paperwork and hassle a whole evening over a letter of resignation.
*N.B.: The original source of this quote was initially unknown, but after some light research, I have come to find that I have in fact pulled this motto I now live by from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004).