It’s Hogmanay, or nos Calan,* or New Year’s Eve if you’re English.
In some previous years I’ve done a big summary round-up of exciting things and powerful memories from the past year. In at least one, I even did a week or so of posts counting down my top five memories of the year. 2021? Nope, I’m not doing that. Not because nothing has happened, not at all, but almost because too much has happened. I moved house twice. I met one of my best friends face-to-face for the first time. I changed jobs. I went for walks on the beach a lot. Most important of all, though, I gained confidence. I gained enough confidence in myself to look at who I really am, what has held me back in the past, and start to sort out some of those things.
So this post, then, is not about looking back, because I’ve spent a lot of time doing that over the past year and I know that I don’t have a time machine. I know I can’t go back to 2003, or 2006, or any other arbitrary point in my life. This post is about looking forward, because in 2022 there are going to be even more changes in my life. Changes that I’m going to take the lead on, be in control of, and that will put me in a position where I can live a happier life.
At some point in the next year I will ramble on about this a lot more, I’m sure, and explain more about where I’ve come from and where I’m going to. For now, to you the reader, this is all unsubstantial mist, I know. It won’t always be. For now, happy new year, blwydden newydd dda, and here’s to a better 2022. I know mine will be better, and I hope yours is too.
* It’s only just occurred to me that the Welsh word “calan”, meaning the first of the month or year, is a direct remnant of the old Roman word kalendae, from which the English word “calendar” is derived.
I was thinking: really, I should post something newsworthy, or political, because there hasn’t been much of that on here lately. Nothing in the news has caught my eye, though – it’s all been football-related, and I really couldn’t care one way or the other about it. Then, though, I remembered that today is the summer solstice.*
I’ve been wondering lately: what is the appropriate date for me to do an “end of the year” post. Is it January 1st? Probably not, to be honest. December 21st feels like a much better fit. Samhain would be appropriate, too; and, of course, I’ll have to post something on August 27th, just because that marks a year of blogging here. But today is also a good day to reflect on the changing seasons.
All of the yearly festivals are to some extent dual-faced. Today is a largely time to celebrate summer happiness, but it’s also a time to remember that winter is on its way. I can sit back and look around me, looking at how happy I am right now; but there’s still a long way to go. I’m in a good place at the moment, much happier than I was a year, two years, three years ago, but I’m still wary that something will happen to push me back where I once was.
On the other hand, it’s now High Summer, and I can see that reflected in my life. I am getting a social life once more. I am making friends, and I realise now that I’m a lot better at relating to people, and handling friendship. I’m learning how to avoid driving friends away, too. I’m finding myself. I’ve been learning a lot about my physical body, and learning to appreciate it a little more. I’m even getting better at taking compliments, rather than just stammering: “um … no … really, that’s not true.” Midsummer is a time to appreciate passion and feeling; and I’m even starting to understand that better too.**
* Actually, I haven’t checked the ephemerides to see if it is today. Occasionally it can fall slightly to the side, and the official astronomical solstice is now a few days further on.***
** even if it is in theory rather than practice.
*** Update, August 26th 2020: I have finally looked this up, and the summer solstice in 2006 was indeed on June 21st, at 12:26 UTC.
Unlike the first half of the year, there is one big stand-out memory from the second half of 2005. The start of my second business trip to London. Getting off the train at Kings Cross and walking down Platform 4 trying not to start crying. I was worried because someone I knew – even though I’d not seen her for a few years – had, like many other people, been missing for three days. She’d last been seen at Kings Cross, changing trains. I held myself together until my taxi was driving away from the station, onto Euston Road. As we passed the ambulance standing at the station entrance, waiting to take another run to the mortuary, I burst into tears. This was on Sunday, July 10th. Half an hour later, a Lancaster bomber flew noisily over my hotel-room window.
There are a few more significant memories from the past six months. I’m not sure if more really has happened compared to the start of the year, or if it’s just more memorable because it’s more recent. In August, I visited London again, to see W and his boyfriend, go to a party at their house, and take lots of pictures. At the party, I met the month-old daughter of my friends John and Jen, at that point just named “Piglet”. She’s since been given a proper name, Jaime, after another old friend who was at the same party.
Coming back home, I started up this website – in fact, I thought up the name whilst changing trains* on the way home. After that, nothing very striking has happened – but I’ve made new friends, and got back in touch with some old ones. Another friend was suddenly lost, but more are always being born. Last year ended with Jen announcing she was pregnant; this year ended with W and his boyfriend announcing their engagement. The cycle of the newspaper announcements column marches on.
* Changing between delayed trains, of course.
I was planning to write two whole posts about all the great things that had happened to me this year; but then, I realised I couldn’t actually remember many.
To be honest, I can’t remember much at all about the first half of the year. I went camping. Um, that was about it. So, the first thing on the list for Things To Do Next Year will be: try and be more memorable! Aside from one camping trip and one trip to London, all I can say about the first half of 2005 is that I went to work every day.*
The defining memory of the first half of the year: sitting in the restaurant of a bargain-price London hotel,** at breakfast, not being entirely sure what to do, because it was the first time I’d stayed in a hotel. That was at Easter, roughly.
* Well, five out of every seven at least.
** at least, I was assured that £85 per night is a bargain price for a London hotel. As it was on expenses, I wasn’t particularly bothered. I did, of course, take every opportunity to use the phrase “don’t worry, I’m on expenses” even though I hardly dared actually put anything onto my bill.