“Fresh starts: thanks to the calendar they happen every year —just set your watch to January, our reward for surviving the holiday season is a new year. Bringing on the great tradition of new years resolutions, put your past behind you and start over. It’s hard to resist the chance of a new beginning, a chance to put the problems of last year to bed.”
Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy [2.13]
It’s nearly the end of the year, very soon I will be by a beach overlooking the Indian Ocean and so many things have changed. The Mayans thought the world would end today. They were wrong but for me, this year, a good many things have ended.
The first, in January, was a three year relationship, I thought that we would get married (mainly because he said we would), I thought that we would have children and that I would live in a cottage somewhere in the North East (he said all that too…). Last December I sat at my sister’s and then at my brother’s playing with their children and decided that enough was enough. Enough making do with someone who couldn’t look after himself, enough hoping that if I was supportive and patient that things would pay off and we would be happy. Enough of being afraid that I couldn’t cope on my own without him, despite him dragging me down gradually with him. So I told him that this was it and he agreed.
In February I lost my sense of invincibility. I have never really felt a sense of personal danger – that’s not to say that I take unnecessary risks, I just don’t see any reason to be afraid of being anywhere that I live. In February this year I got my letter through requesting I attend my smear test, which I did, only to find that I had abnormal results waiting for me. I was still living with my ex-boyfriend and he said there was nothing to worry about, but how can you help but worry when you hear something like that? I went to the doctor and she told me that they have a scale that runs from 0-6, 0 being absolutely normal and nothing to worry about, 6 being cancerous cells and I was at 5. I was booked in for a procedure and afterwards I fainted for the first time in my life. Although the treatment has prevented further change there is now a risk that I may not be able to carry a child to full term should I get pregnant, but I would rather that than not have the opportunity to have a family at all later on. And it’s not really likely that I’m going to get pregnant or start a family in the near future, so why worry now?
July/August was the end of an era – the end of 9 years living in Newcastle, having moved in September 2003 to study a folk music degree. That year had also been a year of endings, leaving secondary school, the end of my parent’s marriage, the end of my Nan’s life, but was also a year of beginnings. Beginning to live on my own and rely on myself, beginning new friendships, many of which have still continued, albeit with sporadic reunions now that we have followed our separate paths. After 9 years, 4 jobs, one degree, one abandoned Masters, one PGCE, two disbanded bands (BMused and Skynte in case you were wondering – no, it’s fine, I know you’ve not heard of them) 7 postcodes within the West of Newcastle, more cinema trips and friends than I can count and 6 consecutive weeks of very good pub quiz performances I got in a van and drove back to my Mum’s.
This year has been the end of living in England, at least for a while, and with it ends being able to walk down to a cinema to see what’s on, popping into Poundland to see what tat I could get for a class that I don’t have yet or watching Doctor Who on a Saturday. It’s been the end of lives.
But every end brings its own beginning. Ending a relationship allowed me the freedom and strength to decide that I didn’t want to live in Newcastle, or the North East or England anymore. Losing my sense of invincibility made me realize that I should take chances and do things to make me happy instead of waiting for something to fall into my lap. Making a change and moving from my comfort zone has led me to new friends, new places, new experiences, new sunburn(!) and a new way of thinking. Losing my Dad has meant that I decided to speak up and say that I loved someone – as you know that’s not necessarily got me to where I want to be with him, but he knows and I’ve not given up hope yet that he may think I’m a very good idea for him in the future. I probably just need to move back to England for that bit first though. And if I meet someone in the meantime, which is not outside of the realms of possibility, then he’s the one that’s missed out, because together we could be amazing.
I’ve never liked New Year. I don’t see the point in welcoming in the new when new isn’t ready to start yet. Looking at my surroundings in England I would perhaps see some new shoots trying to push through the cold, hard earth, but to me New Year should be the spring, when there is promise of new life, regeneration, hope of a continuing future. But without the winter we could not have spring, the land wouldn’t get a chance to rest, plants need to die back in order to bloom again. Without pain we wouldn’t know happiness (an idea that, when I was 15, my RE class couldn’t agree with, but that’s for another time) without loss we wouldn’t get to appreciate the things that we have or will come to have. I’m not going to be sad to say goodbye to 2012, on the most part it’s been, well, a shit year really, but there have been some fantastic times and hopefully there will be more to come.
“Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins? It’s not on the calendar, it’s not a birthday, it’s not a new year, it’s an event —big or small, something that changes us, ideally it gives us hope, a new way of living and looking at the world, letting go of old habits, old memories. What’s important is that we never stop believing we can have a new beginning, but it’s also important to remember amid all the crap are a few things really worth holding on to.”