Monday, March 20, 2006


I like that little rush of energy and relief you get when you leave work, particularly at the weekend or, best of all, when you're off on holiday. It's different to the way it used to be, when work wasn't really stressful anyway and the main drama, prior to having time off, was covering the tracks of the little admin tasks you neglected. All of the time you spend preparing – tidying your desk, setting your out of office message, all of it is methodical and geared towards the moment itself, which arrives seconds after you close down your computer and the second you walk out the door. Like the last day of school before the summer.

When you have a bit more responsibility and work is generally harder, you forget about that moment altogether – having time off is arguably more stressful than being in the office, because you've got things that unambiguously have to be done (ignoring for a moment the argument that it wouldn't, in more than one sense, actually make any real difference to the world if I published four books this month instead of five), and there are usually more things to be done than can actually be done. So instead I flap around, curse the occasional colleague, dash off curt emails which I forget to proof read, and end the day an hour late slamming the lid of my laptop shut and blindly reaching for my coat, all too aware that I didn’t do everything I needed to, and that I'll have to turn it back on when I get home and do those last few things. So, mindful of not missing the train I throw the laptop in my bag, sweep the papers on my desk into an ordered looking pile, over-zealously garrotte myself with my scarf and bundle out into the cold.

And then the moment comes after all; it's just a shiver of relief, nothing lasting, but it feels like a part of the inside of me which was previously puffed up and taut (my heart or my stomach) suddenly slackens and deflates and I have a few moments of silence and space inside of me. It's a lovely feeling, albeit fleeting. A big breath out, and I see the sun is setting, and my train clatters into view. Hurray.

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