I’m cleaning the glass of the patio door that leads out from the kitchen. J asks me to look at an email. “In a minute”, I promise absent-mindedly as I return my attention to my blurred reflection.
I move on to the next pane of glass, surprised at how cathartic I’m finding the mundane and futile task of making small handprints disappear in a squirt of vinegar. “Can’t you just tell me what it says?” I need to check dinner. Then it’s time to get the youngest to the next extracurricular activity.
My mind wanders as I wonder if J will drop the youngest at Beavers. I wonder if I can convince the older two to accompany them. I wonder if their tablets are charged: we could bribe them with tablets and chips and cheese while my husband sits with them in the pub next to the scout hut and I could stay in a home that has clean patio doors and watch Frasier, have a bath, sip wine.
J can tell my thoughts are swimming away. He tries one last attempt to cast a line that might real them back in: “It’s from some agency. Says they want me to consider a job.”
My imagination is yet to be hooked and I don’t take a break from the task at hand, but I do politely inquire as to where. “The UAE.” The UAE!
I put down the vinegar. I walk over to the stove. I stir the pasta.
“Just delete it”, I say, “It’s spam.”
“That’s what I thought when I deleted the last one.”
My interest is mildly piqued. I look up.
“They’ve tried before?”
I head over and scan the email.
“OK”, I say, mindful that the pasta is about to boil over, “Pursue it. Nothing to lose. Unlikely to come to anything. Don’t share personal info. Don’t give bank details, I guess?”
J pauses, before addressing the water based mammal in the room, “Could you take the youngest to Beavers? I need to look into this a bit more before getting back to them?”
My dreams of Frasier and baths and wine are wiped as clean as handprints on glass. I serve the pasta and life trundles on.
After a couple more emails, a few phone calls, some online form filling, J tells me he’s been offered the job. “Are you sure? They haven’t even met you.” He asks them if we can meet them. They say we can.
“Would you rather”, asks my boss, when I ask for time off to accompany J, “love it, like it a bit or hate it?”. “Hate it.” I respond without a blink of an eye. “I am reconciled to my mundane life. I have made my peace with it. I am content and I am often happy. My family is content and often happy. Being content and often happy is a very privileged position.” I head home from a job I enjoy. “I can come with you” I tell J.
As we wait for the car to collect us very early one December morning, I ask J if he thinks it’s likely this is all a rouse plotted by his current workmates. They like a laugh. One of them once put an order through for a beehive as essential office equipment.
The car arrives. We travel to the airport. We head to the lounge. They let us in. They let us on the plane and take us to our business class seats. We drink champagne. We’re dropped off at a perfect hotel. J heads out to work for a couple of days. My allocated driver show me the sights.
The people are as warm as the weather.
I do not hate it.
J headed out to start this new chapter within 12 weeks of my not watching Frasier. We joined him 5 weeks later.
As we pack up to leave our home, I notice that there are new handprints on the glass of the patio doors. The view to the world beyond our kitchen is more blurred than it was before.