Working in Sales seemed to involve a fair amount of friendly banter. However, once I was divorced, I found it much harder to joke in in case anything I said was taken as a come-on. Divorcee was not a hat I wore comfortably. If I dressed in anything short or tight I felt as if people, women actually, would think I was a slut and deserved to be divorced. If I tried to look ‘sensible’, I ended up looking frumpy, and I felt as if people, men actually, thought I was a dowdy freak and it was no wonder my husband left me.
One day one of my customers invited me to get a team together for a game of beach volleyball. I put a notice on the board, and the first person to sign up was a project manager named Vaughn. He worked in a different department so we seldom bumped into each other in the office. He was really enthusiastic about sport, and encouraged many employees to join the volleyball team. As the sport became more popular, we decided to approach the General Manager for some sponsorship. He agreed, but only if we created a Sports and Social Club with a constitution and committee. We co-opted someone from the accounts department and wrote a lengthy constitution.
At the first official general meeting, Vaughn was elected chairman and I was secretary. Thus we found ourselves thrown together several times a week as we planned a variety of functions and produced a simple newsletter.
Vaughn had been divorced slightly longer than me and helped me feel less of a failure in the relationship business. The first time he asked me out for lunch we were both nervous. We were so inhibited all we could manage to eat were the olives from the Greek salad. Strange how a different slant on a relationship changed our behaviour. Suddenly on our own, we regressed to adolescent self-consciousness.
But we went out again, and it all became easier. We discovered common interests. We both liked wine. Volleyball had been a ‘beer out of the can’ affair. Winter came, and it was good to sit and relax over a fine bottle of red. As we peeled away the outer layers of each other’s personalities we discovered new depths within ourselves.
Around this time Edward and I experienced a role reversal. One night I came home around ten thirty, to find him sitting up, hair standing on end from running his fingers through it.
‘Where on earth have you been?’ he asked. ‘Do you realise it’s half past ten?’
I found the whole situation quite hilarious, bearing in mind the number of nights I’d lain awake worrying about him. But in the sober light of day, I did realise I needed to set a better example and keep our lines of communication open.