Today was a day of meetings, the first beginning at 8.30am, 15 minutes before I drop the kids at school, a full 1/2 hour before I was due to start work. I cheated and compromised by dropping the kids at school a few minutes early and then made it to the meeting only 15 minutes late. Not too bad if I do say so myself, I arrived just as they were getting started as the morning coffee clearly takes precedent over getting a meeting started on time! The meeting was an evaluation of a new program we are running and it has been really well received so the day was off to a great start.
I went from that meeting back to the office to see that I was now scheduled to go to another evaluation meeting for a major project. I didn’t have a huge role in this project but I was happy to hear that my contributions throughout the year was well received. All going well we will be re-funded in the new year and we can keep on working together and living happily ever after.
Just for something different, it was from this meeting to another. This meeting was a little more relaxed than the first two, it was a planning meeting for upcoming events instead of more evaluations. To reflect the relaxed feel of the meeting we met in a local park by a cafe rather than in an office. It was a perfect opportunity to enjoy the sunshine!
Despite some minor angst, it was another successful meeting. I was feeling great – three for three! In fact I was feeling so good about the work that was achieved that I decided to stay at the cafe with colleagues to grab some lunch.
As we were waiting for our food to arrive we were sitting and chatting, enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze. I noticed that there was a guy walking by staring intently at us and at me in particular. Now the nicest way to describe this guy is as a bum. He was wearing crusty, not washed in a billion years clothes and had a big bushy beard. The colouring was all wrong, but his hair was reminiscent of Tom Hanks in Castaway.
Actually now that I have seen an image, the colouring was good but the hair was longer, straighter and more scraggly. He didn’t exactly look dirty but very unkempt. His stare was piercing. I felt that I should know who he was. He walked by slowly, circled the table at a distance of about 2 metres and then sat on a garden edging behind where I was sitting I could feel him staring.
My colleague pointed out that he was looking at us but she didn’t recognise who he was. As discretely as I could I turned around to see him again. All of a sudden, my mind was drawn back to college days, I knew exactly who he was and I didn’t know if I should feel angry or satisfied.
After so many years, I didn’t realise that someone could still have such an impact on me. He was a person who caused me much pain and stress many years ago. I was very young and very naive when I first met him. He was rude and arrogant, conceited and obnoxious but for some reason everyone seemed to like him. He was charismatic, he was everywhere. He was in the same group of friends as man-child. We, him and I, weren’t friends but since our separate group of friends often stayed in the same house, the house of one of my class mates, we did spend a lot of time together.
Actually thinking back, he was kind of a bum then, always managing to scam food and drink from everyone else. He was never around when food was ordered and paid for but managed to be there when it arrived and he would scoff it all. He would always be sleeping on the couch or floor at one of my friends houses but never contributed to the living expenses despite regularly emptying their fridge. Somehow he could talk or joke his way out of any situation. Back then we had him pegged as being a politician or a cult leader based purely on his ability to charm without being charming.
When I began dating man-child I would see him a little more often but still we weren’t friends. Then one night at a friends house his behaviour became completely inappropriate and I was feeling vulnerable and afraid. I ended up walking home, a suburb away, in the wee hours of the morning because I didn’t want to be in the same house as him. I began distancing myself. I made sure we would never be alone together. I no longer trusted him at all but I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Other than him and his crusty girlfriend, the group of friends that we spent our time with were pretty awesome.
Time passed and I instinctively avoided him. There were always enough people around that it didn’t make too much of a difference. Our paths didn’t cross all of the time and when they did there were always enough people around to dilute his influence on the space. I even had parties at our house and invited him because it was just easier.
At one such party, everyone drank way too much. It was really late and we were all wanting to go to sleep. He lived in the same street but wouldn’t go home. He was demanding more drink. What happened next was a bit of a blur but I think it went something like this. I asked him and his girlfriend to leave. She turned around and slapped me. I think I was so shocked that I didn’t really respond but perhaps I did. Then he grabbed man-child and began scratching at his face with his disgusting long fingernails. I have never in my life wanted to hit anyone more than I have wanted to hit him. I am pretty sure that I didn’t hit him, I have a distinct memory of being disappointed. I do know that he was dragged out of my lounge room and out of the house.
I ran to my room in tears. He was out the front of the house yelling and cursing, wanting to come back in. I have never felt so afraid in my entire life. All the years of bottled up emotion came pouring out. I spent the remainder of the night crying. I was exhausted but I was also relieved, I would never have to see him again.
Many years has passed, more than 15 since I have last seen him. Clearly much has happened since that time. The group of friends all but ignored him, he lost his power and charisma. We have all moved on and are all successful in our careers, all with families of our own. The rest of us still see each other regularly but he pretty much fell off the planet and was barely heard of.
Clearly Karma is a vengeful bitch. I feel like I am living ‘happily ever after’ and he doesn’t look to have much at all. Is it bad that that makes me feel even better about where I am?