Today would have been Emma's 29th birthday. Richard is spending the weekend with her family in Kaitaia. It will be a sad time for them all, obviously, but also an opportunity to remember an amazing person.
Richard and I had quite a long chat on the phone yesterday. We're now seriously considering the possibility of flatting together. Since we get on well, and he has too many people in his living arrangement while I have too few, it would make logical sense. We might have to wait until we get our work situations sorted, whenever that happens. Richard decided that the BNZ job wasn't for him; from what I know of him, and given how I would feel in that environment, I'm almost certain he made the right decision.
When I told my counsellor that I was thinking of working in mental health, she suggested that I become a volunteer counsellor for Lifeline. They recruit a new bunch of volunteers every six months, and the deadline to apply for the latest course happened to be only a couple of days away. I filled in their application form, giving various gory details of my experiences with depression and isolation, and had to physically hand the form in at their office in Greenlane to avoid missing the deadline. At 3pm yesterday I got a surprise phone call from one of the Lifeline managers; I would have my interview that evening. Although the interview would only last twenty minutes, for some reason I had to be there all evening, so thinking I might be hanging around for hours, I took a book with me.
My book remained well and truly unopened throughout what was an intense evening. I was rarely in my comfort zone, not that my comfort zone is particularly large. The gender imbalance was as I had expected; us men were outnumbered five to one. We were split into groups and did a variety of team activities. The first of these involved building a structure together using plastic straws without talking. I made a huge effort to participate fully in all the activities, knowing that if I didn't I'd have no chance of being accepted on the course. To my surprise there were considerably more applicants than places; I guessed about half of us would miss out. I was pretty sure the woman in my group who looked like she was at a PWC interview from the way she dressed would be fine. My interview came right at the end of the evening (this was purely by chance) and it wasn't easy. "You've got no job, no family and very few friends, and now you want to help other people? You must be joking! Sort your own mess out first." Well my two interviewers didn't actually say this but some of their comments almost implied it. "We admire your frankness on your application form, but you seem rather fragile." I actually think I coped with the interview, and the whole evening, as well as I possibly could, but I couldn't help feeling they wanted someone a bit more (let's face it) normal than myself. I'll have to wait and see.