Ten years ago, I walked into work as my self for the first time. I was scared but I was also bursting with pride. That pride will never go away.
The morning has been fine. I woke at ten past five, got up at around six, showered and did half an hour’s yoga. I phoned home and began to fanny around. I have gone for an on the knee, black, sleeveless linen dress and a purple jacket. I’m wearing minimal makeup because I’m due for a facial first thing. My hair is quiet and well-behaved, as that is also due for a pampering. My voice is still a little croaky and my knees a little shaky.”
I marched to the shopping mall with my satchel waggling on my bottom, determined at the first opportunity to get rid of it. And then to the facial.
£75 is steep for an hour’s having your face rubbed. This so wasn’t just that. I had to lower my dress and bra straps so she could massage my head, neck and shoulders as well. And girl, did they need it. So much tension, but so many lovely rubbings and creams and oils and sprays and wraps and… Violetta was clever and thorough. I walked out of there feeling almost unable to focus, so relaxed was I. And then to the hair.
Sage was quickly at the desk and whisking me to the chair. (Sarah) she whispered, (that’s right, isn’t it? I’ll get that changed on the computer now.) And she began to work on my hair. For today (and any other occasion when I can afford the time to mess around as much as this) I have a head of curls, my curls, teased out. We talked, as usual. Only one thing I’ll not repeat: trying to use my upper register with my head bent backward over a sink. The vocal chords, already croaky with my cold, were stretched to falsetto. But it was so good. I look so different. I had to struggle around in the loo to reapply my makeup, as I wasn’t looking my best, facial or no facial. And then on to the nails.
LaToya is expecting her first (and, if she has anything to do with it, only) child. She has her mother’s name, Claudette, tattooed onto her right wrist, and her grandad’s onto her left wrist. She gave my nails the three-week manicure: three, four coats of clear gel. And we talked about babies and pregnancy. That was gentle, easy time. I’m pleased with the results: apparently I can paint them different colours and take the colour off again, so long as I don’t use an acetone based varnish remover. Yay! And then on to lunch.
I stopped on the way and bought a cheap computer bag, with handles: an easier way to carry things.
Jamie’s Italian wasn’t serving hot food. The gas had been cut off. So my lovely colleague Heather and I had salads. My first food of the day (I had wanted to be sure I could slip into this dress). And then I had the tiramisu (it’s very, very nice and – hell – I’m in the dress now). It was a relaxed lunch, sprinkled with gossip, family chat, growing up talk and stuff about sex (just a bit). She paid. And then we walked to the office.
I walked in, said hello to the receptionist who’d been so nice to me last week and then went to my desk, greeting people as I walked along. There, to the left of the desk, were a dozen roses that Dawn, the HR Manager had left: she is heaven-sent.
And then I walked around a lot, saying hello to people and chatting to them. Just like before, but better. Lot’s of cheery “Hello Sarah, how are you?”s So far, this is just very, very good.
My first pointer. I’ve been walking around the office some more, just enjoying being me, with a smile bigger than ever it was.
And as I was about to leave one floor, as I was walking towards the lift, I saw a head turn. Two men were walking past me and one turned back. I could see him trying to get his colleague’s attention, so I stopped and watched. He tapped his colleague’s arm and his colleague turned towards me: it was Dave. I know Dave, he knows me. Dave turned to his tapping, pointing colleague and I didn’t need to know what he was saying: his look said it all.
“It’s Sarah. Get over it.”