Today is Sunday. At the tail end of a very exhausting and, sometimes, confusting week. Originally, I was supposed to fly to Paris on Monday morning, to stay for the whole week with the colleagues. But then I stayed here because it had turned out – towards the end of the previous week – that the French colleagues were actually mostly out of town at the beginning of the week. So I changed my plans and booked a new flight, at my own cost, to allow me to stay home for a couple more days and only fly to Paris on Wednesday morning. I was still struggling with that virus, was still not well, and so those two additional days were much welcomed.
On Tuesday, I had lunch with Kal. We stumbled upon a nice coincidence: his girl-friend was having slight financial issues, they were thinking about subletting her place, but didn’t want to rent it out to anyone. M is desperately searching for a furnished apartment that she could rent soon. This could be a great idea that M would rent Kal’s girl-friend’s place and we’d solve two problems at once. When I came home and told M about it, she was extremely happy.
On Wednesday morning, I flew to Paris. On the plane, I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation between two people who were sitting behind me. One was a slightly older American, and apparently a musician, he talked (slightly braggish) about how he had contributed a couple of pieces to the soundtrack of Tarrantino’s “Inglorious Basterds”. I really wished I had been in his neighbour’s place – I had just finished a piece of my own music for a video that I had edited to the music, about a trip I had taken to California with M last spring, and I had published it on Vimeo. I would have loved to show him that and get his opinion about it, and maybe have an interesting connection that way. Later, at the baggage carousel, I actually spoke to the man – not about my music, but about copyright and music, and about the changing music industry, because that was a subject they had talked about also. I thought maybe we could start from there. But he didn’t like the subject, and after that introduction, he wasn’t half as chatty as he was on the plane with the other person, so that attempt unfortunately, went nowhere.
I was still not back to normal but felt I could take on a couple of days of meetings. We met in the morning at a research company, spent a couple very interesting (yet tiring) hours with them. In the afternoon, the French team was meeting internally, while I frantically tried to catch up with emails. Then on to another meeting, with the same company that we’d seen in Germany the week before, but here our relationship with them isn’t as strong, we’re just trying to develop it. It was a good meeting, but also demanding, and all in French. The night I didn’t last long at dinner with my colleagues, went to the hotel and to bed early.
At the hotel, I learned by text message that M hadn’t seen the apartment yet, but that Kal and his girl-friend were already getting frantic about it all, trying to plan for how to make it work. I wrote to him that they should let M see it first, and then worry about the details. And I started feeling bad already. At the moment when we came up with the idea, it seemed to be a good one, but shortly afterwards, I began having some serious doubts about it. Kal is one of my very best friends. But I know that he can get into serious trouble with people. I made two business connections for him, and both went sour, both were with friends of mine, and now he and them are no longer on speaking terms. I was worried about something like that to finally happen between him and me. What if he broke up with his girl-friend, after having forced themselves to move in together, to make this possible? What if that would force M out of that apartment, and really raise hell? It didn’t feel right anymore.
I did sleep fairly well that night, but woke up once, felt feverish again, was upset and scared, and decided that I couldn’t go on like this. The next morning, I had a little breakfast meeting with a guy I’ve known for a while, we met right next to Gare de l’Est, at a café called L’Ecu de France. He’s in a similar business as I am, only in France, I thought there might be partnership opportunities, we exchanged our thoughts on the status of the business (he does like to brag … but he is successful), and he told me that he had sold a substantial number of shares of his company, and was planning to actually get out of the business the coming week. Gave me a few things to think about.
Then I met with two of my colleagues (one of them was the one I spent New Year’s with), but before anything else, I took care of changing my flight once again. Originally, I had planned to fly to Munich on Friday and go skiing with a bunch of colleagues on the weekend. But I knew now that I had to see a doctor and do something about my health first. So I changed my flight to the evening of this same day, and, surprisingly, could do so at only 25 EUR of additional charge. Then we prepared for a meeting that we had that afternoon. The meeting went very well, we did a good job, and after that I headed out to Orly airport to go home. (Where I happened to see that same musician again … but this time we didn’t talk.)
On Friday morning, I called my doctor. They have gotten very strict at his office, on Fridays he doesn’t take emergencies anymore and they were very stubborn about it, they said that I could only see his assistent doctor whom they’d hired specifically for this purpose. I threw a bit of a fit, and called twice to convince them otherwise. I felt I needed someone to talk to who knew me, and with whom I could talk about more than just my throat. I felt that this was something that runs deeper, and that has to do with my job, and a general problem. But they wouldn’t have it, so I gave in and went to see the assistant doctor. She gave me a few tips on what to do, prescribed a couple of things, I went home, spent the next two hours just telling everyone that I would be out and offline for the next days. Tone was totally cool about it, he encouraged me to really shut down and relax. And then I went and had a nap.
Later, M went out to see the apartment. Afterwards she got in touch, apparently she fairly liked the place. But: Kal and his girl-friend had put together a detailed itemised list of all the costs which even included a 50 EUR montly rental fee for the furniture. It amounted to a price of around 1150 EUR per month. That was a little too steep for M to afford, but what annoyed me more was that they were dealing with her like she was some strange person from whom they could make money. So I called Kal to talk to him about this. The moment I started mentioning that I didn’t feel that this was fair, he started throwing a fit, shouted at me “What the hell do you think, that we give her money or something, oh fuck yourself!” and he hung up.
I was pretty stunned.
A little later I left a voice mail saying that I thought we were friends, and that no friend had ever talked to me like that. And that we might have different opinions, but that it should be possible to talk about something like this. I do fear that I have lost a friend. A really good friend (at least I’d thought he was). Maybe I wasn’t quite right to say what I did say. But no matter what, that doesn’t merit that kind of a treatment. The next day, M wrote a very friendly email, saying that she really liked the place, but that she couldn’t afford it, and she even said that she didn’t feel that this was unfair, and that we must have had some sort of a misunderstanding about this.
We haven’t heard from the since. I had a bad feeling about this from the start. And now this is how it turned out. That is bothering me.
Other than that, it is a blessing to have real time off. I can so feel how it is doing me good to be really off work. I feel that I really am recovering, finally. And that is great. I am watching movies, and I started watching the TV show Homicide again which M and I had started watching a long time ago, after we’d so enjoyed watching The Wire, to which Homicide is kind of an ancestor. But we stopped at some point, maybe when our relationship wasn’t working out anymore. I am getting better, finally, and I am thankful for that. I am thinking about writing, I started reading The Passage again (which M had given me a while ago), I am inspired to really start my own project. My illness may not have happened if I had taken my one week holiday in December. But I couldn’t then. And so my body responded and knocked me out, finally. I need to take better care of myself.