The change of scenery was very welcome I thought to myself, as I sat down to breakfast. A two day residential course at a beautiful and quintessentially English training site, with 30 foot ceilings, red velvet curtains and paintings of 18th century admirals and merchants framing the walls. I’d gone for the full English and midway through a Cumberland sausage I caught eyes with the most beautiful human I had ever seen. Bright blue eyes, striking jaw and mop of mousy brown hair, stood towering over the coffee machine with his broad shoulders, I could have easily mistaken him for Jude Law. I found his apparent character quite comical, chatting to his acquaintance and gesturing enthusiastically using the Financial Times like it was a conductors baton to emphasise his point, orchestrating his conversation with grace, a symphony that I couldn’t overhear but imagined was titled something like: ‘Reasons in Invest in Far East Stock Markets – in e Minor’.
I felt compelled to speak to him and immediately stood up, no wait that was stupid, I sat down. I couldn’t just interrupt his conversation with my unsolicited mumblings, I don’t actually know anything about him. Maybe I need some coffee, yes absolutely I need some coffee, I stood up and strolled in his direction, cup in hand and upon discovering it was already completely full (having only filled it 5 minutes before) I discretely tipped the coffee into the espresso machine overflow and pulled down the tap to refill it.
Jude: ”Are you going to the event tonight?”
Not Jude: ”Oh to the dinner? Nah, it’s the wife’s birthday and we are…[blah blah blah boring coupley stuff].”
My mind compiled the only relevant information; Dinner and Event. Hum…scanning the room I spotted a billboard propped up by the entrance:
“Trafalgar Day Silver Service Dinner Ball Tonight!
Dress Code: Black tie.”
With a large diagonal sign dictating with certainty: SOLD OUT! It looked so exciting, if I were attending I would certainly get a better opportunity to say hey to Jude. Except of course that it was:
Starting in 10 hours.
For members only.
Strictly black tie.
Why is it, I thought, always the times that you don’t pack your ball gown that you need it? I laughed at how ridiculous it was to give myself such a scolding for not bringing my ‘travel ball gown’ like one would a compact iron or a set of foam ear plugs. My smiles quickly turned into a frown when I discovered I was actually scolding myself via my overflowing coffee cup. My reactive swearing was heard within a 10 meter radius of my position by a soiree of suited professionals and I could feel myself blushing from my eyes to my ear lobes as I scuttled back to my seat.
It seemed impossible that I would be able to attend and to find out I would have to ask lots of awkward questions and speak to strangers which sounded kinda hard and uncomfortable. There is not much that thrills Future Emma more than successfully tackling an apparently insurmountable challenge and I felt immediately guilty for my complicit attitude. ‘Fine’ I huffed out loud, unintentionally frightening the person next to me, it was decided; I shall go to the ball. After all if me and Jude were going to live happily ever after it really would make things much more difficult if we were never to meet.
Back in the great hall, lunch tray in hand, I circled tables of professionals like a vulture for more than a few minutes before spotting my opportunity and swooping in. It was with apprehension and sweaty palms that I asked to sit with the strangers, casually inquiring what this silver service dinner thingy was they were talking about. Thirty minutes later I had the phone number of attendee Alvin Chipmunk (after mishearing his actual name twice and adhering to social etiquette to pretend the third time was a charm), directions to the closest retail outlet, a taxi number and the office location of the event organiser.
Released from my lectures some 90 minutes before the event I found myself loitering outside the office branded ‘Accommodations Supervisor’ with a racing heart my fist poised ready to knock. Reviewing my memory banks for any previous experience in negotiation and reciting the methodology ‘WIIFM’ or What’s In It For Me? from a book I’d once read. What was in it for them? What would make them want to sell me a ticket to a sold out event? Maybe they could stick an upturned bin on the end of a row and I could eat from a spare fruit bowl with my hands? The door swung open unexpectedly, leaving me frozen like a maneki-neko cat. ”Hi, I heard you had a cancellation for this evenings event. I know you have sold all the tickets, but I’d love to attend, are you willing to resale me the ticket so that there are no seats left empty?” I didn’t know if there had been cancellations – I was taking a punt, relying on my knowledge of non-attendance statistics, but it paid off, the ticket was mine as long as I was able to get a member to pay using their account. ‘Yeah no problem’ I said confidently as I walked off.
This was insane. I didn’t know anyone. Except my new acquaintance Alvin Chipmunk of course, could I ask a complete stranger to fork out a small fortune on my behalf? Borrowing money from strangers, it’s just not cricket! Knowing Alvin was in lectures for the next hour I had a decision to make, thumb hovered over the green taxi-call button, I hesitated, was I really about to pay for an hour round trip to an unknown shopping centre, to buy a ball gown that I wouldn’t have time to try on, for a event that I wasn’t even invited?
Future Emma thought this was a great idea.
Apparently it wasn’t ball gown season and the best thing I could find in a 6 minute Supermarket-Sweep style shopping trip was a black knee length evening shift dress. Back in my accommodation I opened the complimentary sewing kit and made haste with tacking my smartest black work skirt to the hem of the dress. Pinned up my hair into curls with some paper clips and applied some water to my tooth brush to use as makeshift clear mascara, before presenting myself with trepidation to the full length mirror for its feedback. Wow, I actually looked pretty decent.
Walking over to the great hall in my dress/skirt monstrosity, I watched in awe as men in bow-ties and woman in glorious sequined trail dresses with extravagant hair pins accompanied each other with laughter and jesting, arm in arm up the steps into the main doors. The sound of music gently building in the distant background. I still didn’t have a ticket and as I watched the porter collect them at the door I still wasn’t ready to give up. I closed my eyes and after a deep breath I called Alvin. He was more than enthusiastic to help me attend and as he handed the ticket over to me at the base of the steps he bent his arm in friendly invitation and we walked, arm in arm, up the stairs to the great hall, laughing and jesting.
Turns out Jude was married. But I had the night of my life, 100’s of grown adults singing sea shanties and passing port in flat bottom decanters clockwise around the table, trading stories and dancing, oh the dancing. And I met a new friend, Alvin. Which I still call him, he doesn’t know why.
A mentor once told me: ‘there are no past possibilities and there are no future truths, there is only now’. In other words, time only moves in one direction, you cannot influence anything that has already happened and you cannot guarantee anything is yet to take place, so the only time in which you can live with impact is right now.
There are many times that we find ourselves, ready to knock on the door, dial the taxi or improvise with a sewing kit. We hesitate and we miss out, become complicit in our life and goals and stop living intentionally because we are too frightened to try.
I was left feeling immensely empowered for putting myself out there, to feel a bit scared and to try anyway.
Reminder of 2018 Relationships goal:
By the end of 2018 I will.. be spending meaningful time in the company of people I care about.
- I am not distracted by my next appointment or my phone whilst in their company. I am not ‘too busy’ to support people when needed.
- I schedule free weekends that will allow for spontaneous fun.
- I am living my best life, I spend time in activities I enjoy and with people who are like minded, meaning I can attract the type of intimate relationships I want.
Stock Take: First Quarter 2018 goal achievements
Spending time with people – For me, relationships are a joint venture of mutual investment, education and growth and when I am afforded the privilege to be in the company of people I care about, I want to be there, with them. This goal is about being present. In the last few months I have been actively asking myself, where am I right now? Not allowing myself to be hijacked by the future (like worrying if my house will ever sale) or by the past (cursing myself for turning up to my niece’s birthday celebrations an entire 24 hours too late). This is a progressive process and the more often I bring my attention back to now and the joys of the moment, the happier I have been – WIN!
Free time and spontaneous fun – I plan my day in advance to wake early and get my best work done in the morning, this gives me a free ticket for the rest of the day, I continue to do at least 1 thing for my goals each day and make sure I am clear about when I am clocking off for the day. In the last three months I have scheduled downtime every day. I feel generally more relaxed and joyful – WIN!
Intimate relationships – We have Romanticism to thank for the ideal that bumping into the love of our lives at the coffee machine is a realistic and moreover an expected reality. Although we don’t necessarily have any control over chance encounters, we can create an environment that will give us the best opportunity to attract intimate relationships by living our best lives.
For me this has been being true to myself and what I want to do, when I feel inspired to do it. I’ve lunched with my family, hiked with friends and gone to festivals. Spent time digging at the allotment with my grandmother and helped my sister move house. I’ve been swimming, climbing and roller blading; watching the surprised reactions of bystanders is hilarious, this is not a regular activity in the UK, but I don’t care, I am going to do it anyway – double WIN!
For many people their primary intimate relationship with another person is the most challenging one they keep. Though I think that the most challenging relationship we have is often the one which we have with ourselves and is usually the first thing that is affected when life becomes chaotic. Which leads me to an interesting question, how do I continue to invest high energy in my relationship goals whilst not compromising self care…?
How did I get here? Read my previous blogs for insight into Entropy Emma:
Photo credit to Kevin Yang