Saturday 25 May 2013

Lexi - The First Day

Eve is awake.   I know this because I don't think I have yet fallen asleep,  and as I hear her shutting her bedroom door and heading for the kitchen, I hate my body for choosing to feel sleepy now that the alarm clock sound is imminent.   Why couldn't it have realised this 6 hours ago? 
    As I rub my sleepy eyes, I grab my phone like an excited child.   I forgot to text John before going to bed so Whatsapp must be manic.   But there's nothing. Nothing checking if I got home OK.  Nothing telling me he'd wish I'd spent the night with him.  No goodnight. No good morning.

    My heart sinks as my head gets into a wild panic; intrusive thoughts and flashbacks from 7 years ago. Oh no, it's happening again. He's probably leaving me to focus on his career. Or leaving me because he hates the blonde hair. I've scared him off with moving to London so suddenly. Oh, what have I done! 
    Just calm, Lexi.  Everything's fine.  He saw you last night at dinner - he doesn't need to text you every two seconds, I scold myself and instantly I relax taking in deep breaths like some sort of meditation therapy.  I make a mental note to see if there are any yoga classes nearby.  I could probably do with learning how to manage stress.
    I put John to the back of my head as I quickly choose clothes for the first day at my new job and head to the living room where Eve is scanning the wall with a black marker in her hand.
    "Morning," she beams when she sees me emerge cautiously. "I'm thinking one big arch from here," she steps back and ponders her handy work. "What do you think?"
    "Umm," I look over the massive, black, uneven line that she has drawn over our living room wall and don't particularly know how to respond.  "I don't know much about interior design but it seems fine. Will definitely make the kitchen bigger," I shrug as if I ooze optimism, which I don't.  I have a horrible feeling some cowboy builder will come in and knock down the wall, charge us an absolute fortune, and we'll sit back, relax and watch the flat - no, the bulding, crumble on top of us.
    "Yup. I'll get someone to come take a look at this sometime today. Pretty soon it'll be like a brand new flat. Oooh, exciting!" she giggles as she grabs her bag to head for the door. "Oh, almost forgot. I'm meeting a few of my friends tonight after work if you want to join us?"

    I'm about to say no as I'm probably doing something with John, but I don't get the chance. "Please don't feel like you have to say yes but I thought since you're new to London it would be good to meet new people. I know you have your boyfriend, and obviously you and I are going to be the best of friends but it's nice to have variety," and with a genuine smile she says goodbye and leaves. She's a whole world away from Mand.  For one, she doesn't demand that I only spend time with her.
The route from the flat to Acton seemed no bother at all.  In fact, I was surprised how quickly I found the building. But the inside of it seemed to be a convoluted maze with doors leading to even more doors.   One minute I'd be on the second floor, the next the ground. In the end I had to pluck up the courage to ask what appeared to be a 14 year old, but actually turned out to be a twenty nine year old IT assistant. 

The morning in the office was great. Only slight hiccup being that my boss cannot seem to   understand that my name is Lexi and not Alexandra. It's like she thinks Lexi is some fake, modern name suitable to a five year old who has a sibling called Saffron, and not for a woman in her mid twenties.  Perhaps I should consider changing it to something people will take seriously.  Maybe I should actually change it to Alexandra.
    "Lexus, we're having a catch up meeting in about 10 minutes if you'd like to join us. It'll be a good introduction into the role," 
    "It's Lexi," I correct shyly for the fifth time that morning.
    "Oh, I'm so sorry," and with a huff she sits down at the desk opposite mine. "Things have been manic here. My Junior Buyer has been signed off sick for six weeks. Some sort of mental disorder. Depression or something, or so she says. I never quite trusted her," she reads an email, curses loudly then carries on. "So as you can imagine, you've joined us at s hectic time," she looks up at me from her screen suddenly worried. "The agency did tell you this would be temporary, right?"
    "Yes, don't worry," I smile.
    "Phew. We've had mistakes like that before," and as she goes back to her work, Melanie fits my exact description of what a successful woman is like. Click clacking heels, yummy mummy routine and a scary look when she doesn't get her way. She's about thirtyfive, slim, with medium brown hair tied up into a smart chignon. She's clearly one of those women who goes to the gym. And I suddenly have a brain wave. I can finally be one of those girls with a gym routine! Eve definitely mentioned about the building having a gym in the basement. When I worked at the restaurant the chef tried to convince me to gain weight to make his food look more appealing. Here, it appears eating is grossly discouraged.
The work day finishes in a flash and I have made no new friends.  In fact, no one has even bothered to say hello to me.  I sat next to this woman called Natasha during the meeting and all she said to me was, "Who are you?".  No hint of a smile.  No acknowlidgement when I told her who I was.  Not a thing.  Perhaps friendship is grossly discouraged here too. 
    I say goodbuy to everyone but get nothing back as attempt to leave the office.  I'm in high spirits until I'm faced with the maze again and my head starts to get into a real panic.  The first few doors lead me nowhere - just to other offices, and as I'm about to walk down another set of stairs, I hear a voice.  It startles me so much that I almost trip and fall down the metal, white stairs, but a set of arms catch me.
    "Are you alright?" the voice speaks again, close to my ear.  As I gain back my equilibrium and stand on my own two feet, I turn around to be faced with a stranger; a tall guy with dark blonde, tidy hair wearing a stripy pink and white shirt and beige chinos.  His arms are still out expecing me to fall again.
    "I'm fine," I smile, feeling utterly stupid and embarrassed.
    He moves back leaning against the wall but doesn't say anything.  Just stands there looking at me with no readible expression on his face.  It's now getting even more embarrassing as we stand there staring each other down on the stair case, blue eyes on blue. 
    "You're new," he states breaking the silent war.  I only nod, feeling a little like I'm seven again and the headmaster has told me off for running in the school corridors. 
    "First day.  Working at Goldpinns," I almost whisper.
    "Obviously," he says in a horribly sarcastic tone, which only makes me scunch up my face in surprise.  But he says nothing more, and as quickly as he appeared, he has disappeared again.
    As I finally make my way of out of the building, I begin to wonder if everyone in London is as sour-faced as in the movies.

I've now entered the bar where Eve and her friends are at, but have still heard nothing from John.  My phone has been buzz-free all day which is very unlike it. 
    That's it.  I've ruined it.  This move to London was far too big for him to handle and now he's gone.  He no longer loves me.
    "Lexi, over here," Eve's bright voice waves me over and as I see her and her glamorous friends, I force a smile.  "Everyone, this is my new, gorgeous flatmate," she announces like I'm a prized piece at a fair.  "Come and sit next to me," she orders and I do as I'm told.
    I'm surrounded by four pairs of eyes looking at me like they expect me to say something amazing and profound.  "Hi," is all I manage.
    "Right," Eve starts before finishing off the last of her drink, "Lexi, this is Nick," her manicured finger points to a dark-haired man opposite me.  He smiles and says that it's very nice to meet me whilst his arm is around another girl, "And the lady sitting next to him is Lullah.  Lules is a teacher at my school.  That's how we met and became the very best of friends," she smiles to which Lullah smiles back.
    "We've heard a lot about you this evening.  Very pleased to finally meet you," she tells me.
    "Nick and Lullah are very much in love, you see," Eve continues.  "They met about four years ago at university and have been together ever since.  Very sweet story but I'll let them bore you with it,"
    I smile at the couple again and move my attention to the next person on the introduction list.
    "This is Finn.  Biggest Man Whore of the whole of West London.  No, whole of London.  No, actually.  Whole of England,"
    Finn rolls his eyes, adjust his jacket and hands out his hand, "Pleasure to meet you, Alexis,"
    "Oh, and he calls everyone by their full name.  Highly annoying trait,"
    "Evangeline, you never seize to entertain me," he replies but Eve says nothing.  I get the feeling the group ignore Finn a lot.
    "And last but not least, this is Davina," Eve says in a defeated tone.  "She's new to our group,"
    As Davina stands up, I notice she has the longest legs in the world.  I mean, I would look tiny compared to her Amazonian, model-esque stature.  And I'm not exactly short. 
    "Anyone want a drink?" she asks as she makes her way to the bar.
    I'm about to shake my head, but Eve answers for me, "Yes, get Lexi a drink, and another glass of wine for me, "
    "What drink would you like?"
    "Umm, a glass of white wine please.  If that's OK?"  I reply like a child.
    Davina throws a sickly, sweet smile and struts over to the bar.
    "Like I said, she's new to our group," Eve says when Davina is out of earshot.
    "She's like a model,"
    "Yes, everyone seems to think that," and I get the feeling that Eve isn't as impressed by Davina as everyone else seems to be.  "I don't know," she continues, "she's," she stops to think of the word, "blah!"  To which we both laugh.

The evening is filled with wine and conversation and I cannot believe how easily I've fitted in with this group.  I always thought it was harder to meet friends in your twenties and out of school or university, but nope.  Here I am being a social butterfly.  The complete opposite to my life in Winchester where the only socialising I did was with Mand. 
    And John.
    Oh gosh, I almost forgot about John.  Now that he's fully back in my mind I can't think of anything else.
    "You alright?" Lullah asks concerned.  You can definitely tell she's a teacher.  I can imagine her peering over a poorly little kid as they complain of a tummy ache and want their mother.
    "Yes, I reply unconvincingly.
    Lullah is about to ask something else but Davina interrupts her, " Eve, I thought Andrew was popping by,"
    "Err," Eve looks at her watch, then her phone.  "No text from him so he's probably  just working late again.  You know what...oh look, here he is now," and as our eyes dash towards the door, a tall man with dark blonde hair enters the bar.
    Oh no.
    Trust this kind of thing to happen to me.
    It's the guy from the staircase. 


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