So the much feared foray through the revolving doors into the building I spent the sizable slab of almost a decade holed up in, finally happened.
Having been lived a countless number of times already in both my unconscious dream state (nightmare, more like) and the more conscious idle imaginings, there is an air of Groundhog Day-esque familiarity to the proceedings. Strapping on a pair of 3 inch wedges to literally boost my esteem (I have always wondered how the vertically challenged Tom Cruise manages to maintain such a profound sense of confidence without doing likewise – especially with his leggy lady looming tall above him), I still feel myself physically diminishing in the manner of Alice in Wonderland, as I step across the threshold.
The rush of memories – of steps I trod thousands of times, in heels, flats, boots and sandals, season after season, year after year. The ghost of me lingers here like a small part my soul that I can’t reclaim.
A flash of recognition from a face that passes, I pretend not to notice; the scarlet ‘R’ emblazoned on my forehead glowing with shame. It’s enough to be within these four walls. To ride the lift up a few floors and make the pilgrimage across the whispering stares of the trading floor to my old desk is unthinkable. But of course, in reality, no one would stare, or indeed care. But it is enough.
I have gathered together the remaining items under my temporary custody that are my residual tenuous link to this place – this place and these people I have known for longer than Mr A. My company crackberry (defunct), corporate credit card (expired) – they are due to be returned to their rightful owner. My boss drops by and makes a conciliatory attempt at small talk but it is dripping in awkward unease. The content of his last spoken words so many months ago ring resoundingly sharp and unfaded; drowning out the chit chat of the present moment. After all, no one harbours a grudge better than a woman scorned.
I agree to a future lunch that I already know will never materialise but is a necessary nicety from all parties. Preferable, undoubtedly, to suggesting a rendezvous in the next lifetime. Then I am free to leave. Stepping out into the sunshine and away from the haunting ghost of a glittering career that I once had. I pull out my personal crackberry to check for any new messages – old habits die hard.