Another day, another session, and he’s consulting some papers on his lap when I come in. He doesn’t look up but says ‘I got you a coffee. Two sugars, right?’
I sit down. ‘Thanks’ I say.
‘I want to pursue this question about your, er, putative career...’
I snort with derision. My “career” indeed. That’s a laugh.
‘Why do you find that funny?’
I shake my head and try to avoid saying ‘I don’t know’. I do know, it’s because it’s unimaginable, me, with a career. I have an image of all those people in suits or uniforms being terribly important and responsible and serious about life. I can’t imagine myself like that.
‘Ok’ he says, trying not to look exasperated, ‘what would you most like to have done, no, what would you most like to have changed about your life? Anything you like...’ He clicks his fingers ‘...different. What would it be?’
Again I sit and my mind goes all over the place. So many things, none of them very realistic...
‘Go on, a place of your own? A round the world air ticket?’
God, I think, yes, either of those. To get away, be myself somehow. I nod and he smiles, and I think he’s going to say ‘But you need to earn the money first’, which my mum would have said (she used to take great pleasure in “bringing me back to the real world” as she called it) but he doesn’t.
‘Alone or with someone else?’
I consider the people I know, go through them one by one. There’s nobody.
‘Maybe I could meet people when I’m out there’ I suggest.
‘Highly likely’ he says.
I have this image of a group of fairly cool but not too pretentious people, maybe about my own age, maybe more varied, male and female, hanging out in a bar, or just in someone’s room, and I feel completely relaxed with them, and we chat but I don’t feel I necessarily have to say anything. It’s just easy, and there’s a girl...
‘What are you thinking about?’ he says.
‘Oh, this fantasy I have, of a group of friends, a girlfriend...’
‘What are they like?’
‘I really don’t know. They’re just friendly, relaxed...’
‘Anyone you know?’
‘What about the girl? What’s she like?’
I feel a little inhibited at first, but then it occurs to me I wouldn’t mind him telling me about his boyfriend (maybe I should ask him some time) so I go on to talk about her, how she’s witty and funny and likes a lot of attention, and how we spend a lot of time in bed just cuddling and listening to music...’
‘And having sex?’
I smile sheepishly. ‘Lots of sex’ I say.
‘I should bloody well hope so’ he says, cheerfully.
I take a moment to enjoy the fantasy. He watches my face. He sees it turn from happy reverie to hopeless.
‘What happened there?’
‘It’s just... the money. I lived with my parents for fuck’s sake. What am I going to do?’
I see him think about how to put it. ‘I actually don’t know Gabriel...’ He sees me sag a bit ‘But hang on. That’s not the point. The point is there’s no point in thinking about work and savings and insurance and all that crap if you don’t know what you want it for. You’re putting the cart before the horse Gabriel. We don’t live to work Gabriel. Live in your dreams for a while. Work out what you want to do, feel it, see it as a possibility. Then you find your way...’
‘But that’s all I have done Joe. I’ve done nothing but dream, and it just doesn’t make it seem any more possible.’ I’m almost in tears again, lost.
‘But what you’ve said doesn’t seem very impossible – friends, a girlfriend, a place of your own, a trip abroad...’
‘But it does. I have to work.’
‘That’s the finding your way part. We can talk about all that another time. The take-home message for today is just that your hopes are not unrealistic. Really. Ok?’
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