Passing over my four months’ employment in Turkey in awkward silence, I came back to the Village very much hoping and expecting to go back to Turkey immediately, but it didn’t happen.
Obviously, I’d been unemployed before, so I was better prepared for being unemployed a second time. But I was in the Village, so I was far removed from any kind of social life. And when I came back from Turkey, I thought that I was getting my life back on track, so languishing on the dole for another ten months was a sucker punch.
Everything that happens once can never happen again. But everything that happens twice will surely happen a third time.
Even the few friends I’ve had since before I can remember, I didn’t see from month to month. Beyond not getting to social events, I started missing friends’ “life events” – birthdays, weddings. I became acutely aware of missing opportunities, and quite simply of life passing me by. I wasn’t worried about sliding out of the profession, or even out of a career path, but out of any kind of relatively stable, relatively functional life.
Through a technicality, I was registered at Dalston job centre. One of the middle managers repeatedly expressed how, ‘if [he]’d had [his] way’, my job-seeking would’ve been a more-than-full-time job, I’d’ve been forced to accept any McJob that came along. (Rather tragically, I was actively applying for McJobs but not getting them.) Still, my case worker was incredibly kind and made an immeasurable difference.
Things became a lot more difficult at home. My parents were and are supportive of me; but their disbelief at my inability to get a job drove them to private discussions of my situation, my expectations, my behaviour, which naturally spilled over into a constant chivvying to which I did not react well. I was effectively policed at home as well as at the job centre. And I could tell my parents to fuck off without security guards intervening.
When I was unemployed the first time, I still read somewhat – at least when I was on the long bus commutes between my friend’s flat in south London and wherever I met friends in north London. The second time, I withdrew further. I had no sleeping pattern. I basically stopped reading. (On the two-to-three-hour journey between the Village and London, I slept.) I watched TV and movies – the more violent, the better – just because they consumed the attention of two senses rather than one.
Then, after ten months, I got a peace-building NGO job in the Netherlands, which lasted six…