It started as a normal phone call about four weeks ago. I was sitting in Starbucks, minding my own business, when my phone buzzed. Tasha’s number came up on screen. I hate talking on the phone in public, and normally ignore any calls I get when I’m out and about, but for once I answered it.
I’m not sure that Tasha had too much to say that day. That’s not unusual though. The pair of us can rattle off nonsensical conversation for ages without stopping, but somehow this conversation ended up with me being asked why I was still living in the spare bedroom at mums.
"I can’t afford to move out." was my simple, yet honest reply.
"What do you mean you can’t afford it? All you’d need to do is cut back a little." was the response.
"Hold on Tash, firstly, I’m still paying a mortgage on a property I’m not living in. Secondly I’m in a job that I haven’t been earning bonus in and will be leaving soon, so I don’t know what position I’ll be in with that."
The conversation went on, with Tasha going on to say that I could rent a room somewhere fairly cheaply and that she didn’t understand why I hadn’t done it yet, and repelling my claims of being skint by pointing out that I spend a fortune in Costa every day.
It was the closest we’d got to having an argument, with her being quietly aggressive and me being perhaps overly defensive. I’m not used to others questioning my financial details, even with good intentions, and my back was up.
"If I went to Costa every day and had the largest coffee they sell, that’d be £75 per month. That’s not enough to make a huge difference in my rent allowance, but you’re right. If I really, really wanted to, I could move out and get somewhere. I’d lose out on getting all my washing and ironing done for free as I get now, and I’d have to cut back on the few luxuries I enjoy now, including the freedom to spend money on the kids.
I’d be back at mums every other weekend when I have the kids for two nights, so there’s no respite there, and I’d be leaving myself absolutely broke every month, but yes, theoretically I could do it. Trust me though, it’s not worth the trade off."
The conversation trailed off and finished soon after. We hadn’t been shouting at each other, but were obviously on different sides of the fence.
A few hours later I was back at home and Tasha called again. I ignored the phone, not being in the mood to go through it all again and a couple of minutes later it buzzed with a voicemail.
"Hiya. It’s me." Tasha’s voice was softer and friendlier now, although it sounded troubled, which immediately worried me in case something was wrong.
"I was just thinking about earlier, and I’m calling to say that I’m really, really sorry. It’s none of my business, and I don’t know why I took it so much to heart. I don’t normally apologise, so make the most of this!"
It came across as sincere, although the last line was delivered with a laugh. I picked up the phone and tapped out a text message:
"Thanks for the apology, and you didn’t need to say sorry, though I do appreciate it. I’d be more concerned if you DIDN’T worry about me though, so it’s all cool. By the way… You do know I’ve got you apologising on voicemail now? I’m going to make it into a ringtone and send it to all of your friends!"
Sometimes it takes a conversation like that to get you thinking. It’s nice to know that she cares enough about me to get angry and annoyed at what she perceives to be a shortfall or failing. Not that I want everyone picking holes in me, of course.
And as I say, a conversation like that gets you thinking…