Image Source: Lachlan Donald on Unsplash
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about crossroads – the metaphorical kind of course – points in one’s life where decisions with the potential to change the trajectory of one’s life are foisted upon one. The triggers for this latest bout of thinking are varied but the one common thread is a sense of dissatisfaction which has simmered below the surface for most of the year. Turning forty is certainly part of that, particularly as in its immediate aftermath, it felt like I had reached the top of a mountain only to find there was nothing to be seen there. There is also the desire to head down south for good for family reasons, which perhaps has declared open season on everything I have done for work over the past fifteen-ish years. In the rarefied atmosphere in which my thought experiments exist, everything is an option: from a complete pivot away from oil and gas into something more tech-related, through a less severe move away from being the (siloed) technical specialist I have spent the past few years evolving into becoming more of a generalist to a gap year, travelling the world.
10 years ago if you asked me, I would have sworn off getting into the world of managing people and the (in my opinion) the murky world of office politics but I am finding my revulsion for that less iron-clad than it once was. Truth is when it all comes down to the brass tacks, the things which drive my decisions are the things which drive us all: family, financial security, flexibility and opportunities to get ahead not some rose-tinted version of reality.
Of course, desires are one thing, but they only materialise when desire meets real-world opportunity. Time is also a factor, which is where I find myself now with irons in the fire taking however long they will take whilst I ponder what viable options remain. The option to cut ties and sail off into a different vista is one my friends M and O have taken over the past few months, as have a steady stream of people in my wider cycle. If all goes to plan, I may not be far behind them. Fingers crossed.
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash
For Day 11, the question is “Do you have a gang of friends who push and support you? If not, how could you make some good friends?” As with all the questions so far which have related to friends, I’ll have to hold my hand up again and say this is an area where significant improvement is required. That being said, I have a number of acquaintances in this city with whom I could be better engaged. A number of them are in the same season of life as I am which bodes well I suspect for our being able to band together for mutual support. First things first then, I’ll look to schedule a catchup with a couple of the guys, particularly D and R.
Spread out in various states of recline around a long table in the inner room of the Indian restaurant we have gathered in, I imagine we cast a scene not too dissimilar to the last supper. Not only are we thirteen (ignoring for a moment that S is barely 9 months old), it is a last supper of sorts, pulled together to celebrate the two J’s, in these their final days up here before they up sticks and move to study not too far off from ground zero in America’s bible belt. That we’ve plopped for Indian cuisine is perhaps a slight oddity given all thirteen of us have African roots. I suspect it is more indicative of the paucity of suitable eating options than adventure, which is why phones come out when it is time to order; google comes to the rescue. All that drags out the ordering process, which has a knock on effect on when we get our food.
When dinner finally arrives, we break out into leisurely conversations, in which it transpires that the two J’s are not the only ones on the verge of leaving. R is off in about a month’s time, O has his feet on two continents already, A’s entrepreneurial life is very much in full flow, two other youngsters are on the cusp of going away to University, and I am one job opening away from upping sticks myself. Even those who do not have active moves planned suggest in conversation that they would consider a move outside of town, all of which feeds the sense that a lot of change is afoot, and that the group is tottering on the edge of significant change, particularly over the next few months.
With the benefit of a few days to reflect over the events and feelings of the day, I find myself wondering what about these particular set of circumstances make the sense of change deeply personal. It is not like the group has stayed the same over the past few years I have been part of it. As recently as three or so months ago there was a significant departure, which make my initial guess that it is the sheer number of moves in a relatively small time scale that has largely engendered this feeling. Other possible reasons might be the relative importance of some of the people on the move this time, the season of life I am in, or just a plain, unexplained increased sensitivity to all of this.
Change they say is inevitable but on this occasion I feel like I am being dragged kicking and screaming towards it.
If someone pops into your mind and then a few days later they email you out of the blue… Is the universe speaking, or are you – like all confused people – calling a coincidence an omen?
Waiting for O to appear, twenty minutes after I arrive even though she had a seven minute heads up… I guess I’ll chalk that up as a learning experience…
We meet up – at the third time of trying – at the only place there is of note, Union Square. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we settle for TGIF, the steak, rib and shrimp meal the perfect counterpoint to the 46 days of minimal feeding we have gotten through. There is a lot to catch up on – work, women and all the other things single, semi-bored Aberdonian chaps whine about. When we agree to head our separate ways at 9.30pm, it is having been fully sated, all caught up on nine month worth of life, and with an agreement in principle to make this a monthly affair..
Hanging with the young adults at church
An Indian, a Weegie and a Nigerian walk into a Spanish tapas place *insert whatever joke you deem fit*.. More seriously though it is a fitting end to what has been a hectic week, hanging out with G and D from work @La Tasca; gin and tonics and red wine lubricating our throats all evening long.
Sometime in the late 80’s/ early 90’s.. The place: a University in Ekpoma, Nigeria.. The people: kids and teachers from the Chapel’s Children’s Sunday School, a few of whom I still remember by name – all grown up now. A few dead people (RIP Gracie, GB, ‘Lena and Harold), one fairly famous (Nigerian) fashion designer (M) and seven kids who made it into engineering with a further six involved in other STEM subjects.
Less than a quarter of those in the picture still live and work in Nigeria, but I suppose the bigger question is where did all that time, life and living go?
Food, fluids and friendships.. The highlights of days of Christmas past..