Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon


general, personal & university 3 min read

So you’re looking into the next area, you’ve got full health, full ammo, and all weapons. Time to save.

I was trying to come up with a word last night. It concerns how every so often your life gets into a more or less stable state, and from that point onwards things could go up or down, but right now things are good and you want to mark that state in your mind. It’s not quite a chapter because that implies a whole “phase” of life like “childhood” or whatever. It’s not a milestone, since that implies a specific achievement towards some plan or ultimate goal. It’s not a fork in the road or a turning point, since it doesn’t necessarily imply change, and in any case that’s not the quality I’m talking about.

It’s just a point where everything is together and synchronised and solid, come what may; you’re well-equipped to move forward from this point. My mind kept telling me that it’s analogous to a keyframe in video data, which lead to keypoint, though I’m not really happy with that. I was just wondering if there’s an actual ready-made word that I’m just not remembering. Probably.

Then it occurred to me that it’s like your last good save when you’re playing a game (minus the rather handy ability to reload that save later). Or rather, it’s like recognising that this is most definitely a prime save-point. So much so that you find you’ve hit quicksave or you’ve Esc’d into the menu system before you even really made a conscious choice to do so. Things are like that for me at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong; I have things which are worrying me a bit. My summer placement at the Department is finished now, so I’m officially in the job market (anyone in greater Glasgow looking to hire a BSc Computing Science Hons graduate, and/or need some contract Mac OS X development done?) and that’s a little strange and intimidating after 4 years at university. It’s even stranger to realise how ill-prepared I was for the fact of uni being over for me but not for Lauren.

I can see the usual Autumn sunlight, and feel the usual edge in the air (which is actually a telegram sent ahead from Winter, making sure we’ve not forgotten it in the intervening year), and I’ve seen groups of students out on the streets all heading generally to the North-East. I vividly remember this week last year when I had my intro lectures. The difference this year is that I’m not there, and I’m not a student anymore. I know intellectually that everyone mourns leaving university, but it’s still an utterly bizarre feeling.

It’s not just “finishing uni” or “going to work”; I worked for a few years before coming back to uni. It’s more the sense that a very familiar place still exists out there, and a place that I’ve been in with Lauren and with my friends for quite a while, yet I’ll no longer be in that place or part of that life anymore. It finally makes perfect sense to me how people can avoid going back to a place that they loved being in, just because it’s better than being back there but no longer being part of it. BO620 is someone else’s lab now (Lauren’s, in fact), and Lilybank is someone else’s department, and it’s in someone else’s university. I wonder if I was wise after all to not have taken the closure of the graduation ceremony, though frankly I doubt that would have made much difference at this point; the summer work in the department would still have perpetuated the feeling of the university’s cocoon.

I don’t remember the exact saying, but it’s so true that the phases of one’s life don’t end dramatically and suddenly, but rather quietly and gradually, until one day you wake up realise that what was the present is now in the past. How necessary, and how sad.

However, I’m old enough and wise enough to know that this feeling is temporary and transient, and things are generally really good for me at the moment. We’ve got our flat rearranged from having two study-bedrooms into having a shared study and a master bedroom. We’ve got the double bed in, some new bits and pieces of furniture, wireless broadband, and I’ve even finally moved in my keyboard (already hooked into Garageband). The place is utterly home for me now, and that’s an amazing feeling. I’ll post some pics of our little west end home before long.

Lauren and I have also never been better together, and just over 3 weeks from now we’ll celebrate our first year together. I’m really happy, and I feel settled and secure in the relationship. Which is excellent, needless to say. I love her, and she loves me, and we’re well set up for the future together - no matter what it might bring.

So overall, things are pretty good. I have the proverbial Lightning Gun, and I’m looking forward to whatever is coming. Bring it the hell on.