It was a late November afternoon. The leaves were mostly off the trees, the Christmas lights were mostly up and shining away, and most people were looking forward to a break, but none more so than Tabitha. As she trudged the final few steps back home from university she reflected on a year that had been, well, crappy.
It was hubris really, she thought. She’d had a steady-but-not-too-steady long term boyfriend (Geoff, linguist, very good with people), had been flying high academically (biochemistry, final year) and had it all to look forward to (civil service, life in London, 3 kids). Everything had been going so well that she’d even told a friend she felt “it was finally coming together”. Big mistake.
Pretty much straight after that her mum had been diagnosed with cancer and Tabitha had taken a leave of absence to go home and help. Five years later and she was without Geoff (apparently he was young and shouldn’t be in a relationship that wasn’t fun anymore), she was without a degree or prospects (financial reasons, but she couldn’t remember any of it anyway now), but most of all she was without her mum.
She kept going of course, what else can you do? But however often you hear that Journey song, after a while you Do Stop Believing. Now instead of hearing from people that the future was bright and that anything was possible, conversations turned to how hard your 20’s can be. It felt like she’d been sold a lie by society in general, but there wasn’t even anyone to blame. Her friends (the old ones, she’d lost the newer) blamed Geoff of course, but she didn’t feel she really could. She hadn’t been fun for a long time now, and they had only been together for 2 years. She couldn’t expect him to pledge the rest of his life to her when she didn’t know where that was going. She couldn’t blame the university, she’d had problems and they’d tried to do their best, they’d let her transfer and everyone had been helpful.