Looking Back

My progress on turning out my cupboards and stock taking and replenishing the kitchen has been slow but steady this week. All that is left is the fridge and the freezer. I wish I had been able to do it one evening this week, but long, intense days at work have left me so tired that my evenings have been stumbling through dinner and a shower, then into bed, where I fall asleep, book in hand.

I have Monday off work. It isn’t a day off as such, it is to complete my application form for a job in the restructure which is happening within our libraries. Voluntary redundancies have been granted, but there are still too many of us for the posts that will remain, so those of us left fill in our forms, and then wait. By the end of the month I will know if I have a job or not.

You would think that I would be terrified…part of me is a little worried that I am not. It isn’t that I am by any means confident of securing a post – after all, I was made redundant in the last restructure. It is more partly that I am just too worn out to have the energy to be terrified, and partly because when I was made redundant last year, it was the worst I could imagine happening, and I have survived.

Looking back to this time last year, I had left the big library in August. In the second or third week in September I started working part time in one of the branch libraries to make up my hours. My life was just starting to settle into a rhythm of getting on the train on one day, on the bus another day. I remember meeting my friend who lives in Witham for lunches in a lovely little cafe called The Well – pots of tea and jacket potatoes. I remember a long, straight road to walk down from the train station to the library, and one of the houses along the road often had bags of windfall cooking apples. I remember coming home and making batch after batch of apple puree for the freezer, whilst listening to Alan Rickman read The Return of the Native.

I remember Carl being made redundant, too. Being so thankful that we pulled together rather than apart. When he got a new job, just before Christmas, the elation. Knowing how important it was to him to be employed on his 30th birthday and being so glad he got his wish.

I remember having so much less money, having to choose my pleasures wisely, and discovering Oh Comely magazine, falling in love with it for an issue or two, but then moving on. I remember dark evenings in our new little flat, lit with flickering candles. Being pleasantly surprised by how warm the flat is.

It will be 2 years in January that I first heard about the first restructure in which I lost one of my jobs. Soon I will know about this job, either way. I wish that just for a little while, I could live with certainty. I remember when I was working my one contracted job, and all the little side jobs here and there, not being able to see the way forward, not being able to sense or imagine what might come next. A bit like when you wake up in the pitch dark and can’t see your own hand in front of your face, although you know it must be there. And there was something in front of me. I had from March to August in a new office and made some good friends and put a lot on my CV. I am now working in the Cabinet Office and again, there are wonderful people there and I am working in a world I could not have imagined before.

So I keep telling myself that this too, shall pass. What will be will be. That all shall be well. But it is hard. I know I am luckier than most, because if they do make me redundant, I have my secondment to finish. Everything feels so tentative at the moment. It is very hard not to shrink into yourself and be afraid.

So on Monday, I shall do the best I can with my application. I will be thankful for the safety net of my secondment. I will check the job websites just in case, so I can have an idea what else might be available. I will try to be positive and remember that whatever happens, even if it isn’t how it feels at the time, is for the best.

Recently, I have been having a strong urge to nest. To set up my stores, to make our home cosy and comfortable, to replenish the things we need, to get settled in for whatever is to come. I think a lot of that is autumn in the air, but a lot of it is also the uncertainty of work. I am going to do some baking at the weekend. I remember making a pumpkin caramel cake last year, and I think I will make that again this weekend, and perhaps make some bread, too. Simple pleasures, to soothe the soul.

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3 thoughts on “Looking Back

  1. I wish you the best, hoping you won't be made redundant this round. Has it been 2 years already? Time does fly.The learning curve can be rough and force us to hang on tight, fearing all might be lost, but having survived it, we learn much and are able, I think, to live a better life if we don't let fear of the unknown future paralyze us.Just keeping plodding and hanging on. There will always be ups and downs. Learning to thrive in spite of them is one of the secrets to living well.

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