Don’t Look Up The Sky Is Falling

It’s really cold and I don’t feel like walking the streets.

“Winter feels longer every year”, my mother used to say when I was growing up.

I didn’t understand, what with endless talks of global warming and my permanent lust for snow and a million layers of fabric worn one on top of the other.

Everything about winter, I loved. The crisp smell of ice in the air, the sound of my steps down the arch bridge linking our neighbourhood to the rest of town. Frozen waters underneath, ripples glistening dangerously as far as you could see, from up in the mountains at the mouth of the dam where I’d first tasted fear, and down towards lands unknown, closer to the heart of the country, where all my dreams of setting off on my own ended up taking me back then.

I recently saw some photos of Windsor during the big freeze of ’63. People cycling along a frozen river Thames, blurry arch bridge in the distance, and my first thought was of home and the winters I’d never felt lasted long enough.

These days, it’s really cold.

I’ve been falling ill every other week, killing myself at work, not getting enough sleep, struggling with potentially life altering decisions, and wishing, fervently wishing for this winter to end.

And what this means, I think, is that I’ve outgrown it, my winter love affair. Like I’ve eventually outgrown my end-of-the-world high school crush, and voila, I just might be ready now for a serious, responsible relationship with a less destructive season.

In other news, I have no clue what to do with myself.

I spend my days collecting people’s questions about my present architecture and my plans for the future. Where I see my career going, what makes me happy, what makes me sad, when we’re planning our first kid. They pile up, these wh-word centred topics, and I study them from a distance, breathing in and out at just the right pace, like everything’s absolutely normal and on the inside, I’ve got mountains of perfectly composed answers for everything.

But the truth is, I’m terrified.

I go to this office, I sit in this chair. I type words on this screen, and you know what? I don’t know where my career is going. Or if there’s a career to speak of. Or if it isn’t just a way of filling my days in between insomnias, because there’s plenty of hours out there and what else is a normal person to do but do something, anything with them.

I’m always happy and I’m always sad and that’s probably wrong in so many ways but I can’t help it, because I’ve made mistakes and I’ve made good choices, I’ve wanted things I never got and I’ve gotten things I didn’t know I wanted, and this is what life’s always been for me, a big mess of good and bad I’ve never managed to sort through.

There’s nothing stopping us from trying for a baby these days.

I put it off, ME.

I pluck the thought out of my mind, digging for the roots, burning every stray seed, until there’s no trace left. For a while, at least. And you know why? Because I’m afraid. Terrified, really. I mean, I’m a mess, but I’m also at least somewhat aware of how much of a mess I am, and I realise that adding a baby to the mix is probably not the best idea. So I wait. For what, I don’t know. The smoke to clear, the season to change, something, anything.

Forgive me, today hasn’t been a good day.

Where the Wild Things Are

My new job is making me ill.

I’ve been spending today in bed, tucked under a mountain of blankets and Kleenex tissues, fighting for breath. I’ve read a little, had a little tea, sent a few emails, but mostly I’ve just sat there, hopelessly trying to fool myself into falling asleep. Thinking.

2015 is shaping up into a strange year.

I’ve been meaning to write about things more than once these past few weeks, and more than once I’ve decided not to. I couldn’t say why.

Originally, my first post of the year was meant to be very different from what you’re reading now.

I was going to title it “Happy in a jar”, and I’d have written about this friend who’s been keeping a large jar on her desk all year. Hapinesses, 2014, it said on the label, and every time something made her really happy, she wrote it on a post-it and dropped it in there. I was going to write about how she’d opened it and gone through the dozen or so yellow happy squares. Silly things, she’d told me afterwards. Things she’d forgotten about. A new pair of shoes, a kiss at the end of a movie date, a job promotion. Things that didn’t matter, she said, but I wasn’t sure.

I wasn’t sure that happinesses weren’t in fact almost always the sum of things that didn’t matter, and that’s what I would have written about.

But then, you know, something extraordinary happened.

In between traipsing the country, postponing resolutions and raising our glasses, my friend C got in touch for the first time in almost two years.

He’d gone home for the holidays and found a notebook I’d written for him the summer before we graduated. A parting gift, it would be, but we din’t know it then.

We spoke for six hours, through the night and well into the morning. Things we’d left unsaid for almost a decade, pains we’d hidden, lies we’d lied. We didn’t leave anything out and only after we’d said goodbye and I was at last getting ready for bed, only after I’d wiped my mascara off and I’d stepped into the shower, did I cry the cry I’d been holding in me for god knows how long.

So the next day, I binned my “Happy in a Jar” post and started a new one. I was going to call it “Videli Noci” and I’d have written about my friendship with C, and how after The Year I Almost Had Cancer, The Year I Fell Out With My Sister and The Year Of Our First Home, 2015 had chances to become the greatest year of all. The Year Of A Never Ending Friendship.

But what I realised as I was writing about C, was that I wasn’t really. I wasn’t writing about him, that is. I was writing to him. And I wasn’t writing a blog post but, as scary as it seems even now, many days later, I was writing a book.

There’s one thing I’m more and more convinced of these days, when I’ve got no choice but go with the flow and look back on my life, draw a line and make new resolutions like all self respecting adults: it feels like I’ve never seen anything coming, ever. Like every minor, average or life-changing thing that’s ever happened to me, even the carefully planned ones, ended up following unexpected paths and taking me by surprise. Scary, right?

At least this book thing, it’s a good kind of scary.

What with all the craziness going on in the world and in my world, what with this new job looking really shiny and exciting from a distance but showing its dents and scratches the moment you step closer, what with waiting by the phone for new test results (I thought The Year I Almost Had Cancer was done and dusted, but is anything ever?), what with relationships being what they are, uphills and downhills for ever and ever until you’ve worn the soles of your shoes paper thin, well, what with all that and more, the thought of having a book inside me makes me feel good. Of all things, a book! Sure, I’ve got no idea how to pluck the thing out of me and I probably never will, but it’s there, and that’s really something.

So there. That’s me these days. I walk, I talk, I forget things.

As for us all… It’s probably time we did something extraordinary for once. Who knows, we could try growing new limbs soon, new hearts, it sure feels like just the right time for our bodies to rebel and do something crazy like that. Crazy enough to change the world. 2015 sure sounds magical, doesn’t it?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I’m wishing you all overflowing Happiness Jars this year!