Friday, October 19, 2007

the wheel turns
TA is coming to the end of the bears - only one more week to go. For the last three weeks he's been trying to get a new gig at the same company. Various projects were mentioned, mainly television programmes (which are very short-term contracts). The biggest project, the one that TA's friend has got a job with, the one which will last six months, didn't seem as though it was an option. That said, TA sweet talked HR into securing him a meeting with the producer. The interview started badly, but TA hoped that his enthusiasm won them over. He got a second interview, but the role required two scripting languages that TA doesn't know very well. This new role would be a huge stretch and put many feathers in his career cap. It seemed as though a few months of nail-biting two- and three-week contracts were ahead, if we were lucky.
For the last two months neither of us have relaxed - this return to "normality" could not, should not, be taken for granted. If the last five-and-a-half years of patchy employment and struggle have taught us anything it's that the wheel of fortune turns when you least expect it and entirely to its own timetable.
Poverty and financial insecurity have curbed our spendthrift natures. This month we will pay off the huge loan I took out to pay for the course that gave TA his billing as "the animator". I remember how nervous I was in the bank that day, even though I believed wholeheartedly that we would pay it off a few months after graduation thanks to TA's glittering new career. That was nearly five years ago now. We will also pay off the less huge loan we were forced to take out to pay the rent after I quit my job, thinking that I'd find another immediately (I was wrong).
I must admit, I had no idea how we were going to afford my six months of maternity leave when I decided to take it. Hell, I had no idea how we were going to afford to raise a child when I discovered that actually it turns out I am fertile. Perhaps some of my devil-may-care attitude hasn't quite left me after all.
TA rang a couple of hours ago. He's got the six-month job on the film and has three days between contracts to learn those two scripting languages.
We've come so far, so fast. I think we're on the very rim of fortune's wheel: when it turns for us it turns big. The thing is that we've learnt, we've changed. I'm excited because this means we'll be able to overpay our mortgage for a few months. I'm excited because this means that TA will have more going for him the next time he needs to scare up a new job. I'm not complacent though, I don't think that this means we'll always have jam for tea.
I can see the lines that join these dots, but I'm not sure I'm describing the whole picture very well. I'll try a different tack. Sometimes I lost faith that things would change; sometimes I blamed TA - but not very often. Many people have doubted him during the last five or so years and many people looked sidelong at both of us. I felt that people thought less of him because he wasn't working. Certainly, he felt lessened by unemployment. In the end we were both shadows, until therapy and happy pills pulled us back.
It seems to us that there is a lot of complacency in our part of the world and not much acknowledgement of the wheel. People burble happily along, never realising that redundancy, illness or some other sleight of fate's hand might pull their house of cards down on their heads. Perhaps it's just that we're still young(ish) and that our contemporaries have that life lesson still to come. No matter, I feel as though it's been etched into our bones. We will make as much hay as we can and lay it up in store - we will continue to live frugally, we will stay in the one-bedroom sett until it is time to emigrate or Sprout gets too big for our bedroom. We will overpay the mortgage and save, because tomorrow the wheel may turn again - not because either of us have brought it on ourselves, but because that's what the wheel does.

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