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  • Writer's pictureThe White Paper Journalist

A Pretty Big Week (Pt. 2)

Updated: May 20, 2021

The sky was blue when I woke up and I was excited about going to work. I was excited about dressing the drive and the weather up in music. I was excited about seeing my friends. I was finding my groove in Bristol after a few tricky weeks. I'm not a city boy and I'm not cut out to work for other people. There had been a couple of months of hidden (and not so hidden) anguish and upset.

I was used to driving home after my few days a week in Bristol and feeling a little... emotional. Especially after a couple of road beers. These things weren't normal for me. Cityscapes, the lack of open skies, the stress of spending time with people no matter how dear they were to me could be grinding no matter how precious it was.

There was also the alcohol that had to be consumed to make that proximity possible. I wasn't used to that. The feel of the BMW on empty roads late at night combined with loud, really loud music. These things all gave me a heightened sense of...Well, of everything. So I had had a few drives home late at night with the odd tear in my eye.

But I wasn't used to welling up in the car on the way to Bristol. That was new to me. And it was bought on by my frustration at those questions the night before. By seeing myself through that new lens. Possibly by seeing myself as others really have done. And still do.

I arrived in Bristol feeling positive, feeling good, and excited about the few days we had planned. When I knocked on the door I knew Dave was already there before anyone said anything. It was meant to be a surprise, but I could feel it.

It was great to see him and H. Within a few minutes the other guys arrived, the kettle was on, we were saying our hello's, welcoming Dave to a new environment that we all knew he was a little nervous about and having our little catch-ups. No one was in a rush to start work. We would start when we were ready.

But even here, surrounded by four of my oldest and dearest friends, I was uncomfortable. No. It was more than uncomfortable. Here in the safest of environments. I didn't know how to act. I was watching them to see how they acted and reacted so I could time when to drop in and out. I was on the outside. This is not a sob story, but I am always on the outside.

We started work and we had a good time. And then I made my mistake. I got too excited and I overstepped the mark. I didn't even really know what I had done wrong, I couldn't even tell who I had upset but I knew I had upset someone. I always feel like I'm the last one to get it when I fuck up. And the worst part was I had thought my actions through before I acted and thought I was being ok. Funny. One of the guys. I was wrong.

That shock, the one I get when I realise I have overstepped the mark was instantly recognisable. I actually clasped my hands over my mouth and laughed in disbelief that I was back here again, falling over myself. How the fuck am I back here again!?

I did my best to confront it. I waited for the initial dust to settle, I bided a little time. I assessed, watched, considered, and listened. Eventually, I couldn't take anymore. I went to the source of the discomfort and said simply “So, not such a good idea huh”?

I will never understand the response I got.

I guess that's a part of the deal. Is it? I mean nobodies told me the rules. I'm assuming thats how everyone has been hearing me all my life? “I just don't understand what you said or why you said it? Was that meant to be funny? What the fuck is your problem. Why did you say that!?” I am the screaming obscurities of my diaries.

And it was unfortunate that one of my oldest and dearest friends, one of the people who I had loved and admired for over 25 years didn't know what I was going through. This was a friend I had been trying to really consider. I had wanted to figure out if he was ok or if he and his family needed help. And for all my efforts I just couldn't stop putting my foot through the proverbial front door.

He included in his calm and quiet response to my question “Thats not how a rational mind will see it.” I was floored. I knew that line would be the takeaway piece for me.

The new glasses had been placed firmly onto my face and then punched. The frame cracked on the bridge of my nose and glass splintered into my eyes. I was not who I thought I was. I was not seen how I thought I was seen. I was irrational, and others were rational. And that was how I had always been seen.

People looked at me with questioning eyes, a bit of wonderment, some sympathy. Some with pity, maybe even with some anger. Maybe some of that anger was withheld because I had a problem. Fuck. I was being tolerated. And that absofuckinglutely broke my heart.

I went back to my job. I listened to Dave talk. He talked all afternoon. I barely said a word back for the rest of the day.

I drank a beer with the guys when we finished, but only so as not to embarrass myself or anyone else. I knew everyone on site had felt whatever it was that had happened. Dave and Henry left. I sat with Stu and Ads for a while and then I took myself to bed.

I needed to revisit that last assessment from the night before, the one that had cast me in a different light. The one I was unable to finish. It felt incongruent to go back, but I had to see my answers. They had kept me up all night and I knew they had some bearing on the day's events. They could have held some answers, some truth.

And although I had promised myself that I would not edit my responses I did. But I was pleasantly surprised at how little I did so. I had done a better job on them the previous night than I had thought. My tendency to overthink and over analyse had had the better of me all day.

I just had to finish them and send them off. I did both that night. And it exhausted me. I woke up the next day as if I was waking up from some terrible hangover. At first, I felt good, the calm of the day was reflected in the blue sky of an early morning. I was warm and comfortable.

And then the memory kicked in. As If I was still that drunk punching barmen for no real reason. And then waking up having to deal with the shame and the guilt.

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