Well then. I have about an hour to write something about this year before I need to start getting ready for the party to celebrate its end.
It’s been such momentous year I’m not quite sure where to start. Here goes.
This year I have learned that I am able, sometimes, to remain so visibly calm that no casual observer could possibly tell that I am in such a state of fear that I am actually willing myself to pass out, if only to get me away from the situation I find myself in. I never knew I could do that.
This year, I moved to America. Things are going well for my other half’s career, and in January he was about to embark on what, it turns out, will be an almost 2 year tour around the US. My career, it seemed at the time, could be maintained with little disruption anywhere in the world that had an internet connection. It was a pretty obvious thing, in the end.
I keep saying that I will write about moving, about the interview, the paperwork, the extraordinarily catch-22-ness of a process that often involves you needing to prove you are virtually living and working in a country that you are not legally allowed to live and work in, before being allowed to legally live and work there. The twisty-turny logic and required cunning solutions turned my brain inside out, and perhaps that’s why I’m not quite ready to write about it.
As it turned out I could no longer continue my work with a certain animated pig in the US. The revelation that the work I had been hoping for was not going to be possible felt like, well, the ground disappearing under my feet. Whilst being completely aware of the fact that business is business, that no one owes me anything and that it was my decision to leave in the first place, I was genuinely heartbroken in that moment. It turns out that the little pig, and my seven-and-a-half years in that company, had become a bigger part of my identity than I realised.
This year has certainly had some ups and downs. Often within hours of each other. Here is a fun example:
Although we’d discussed it not long before this particular situation, my now fiancé’s proposal of marriage was a surprise to both of us. It also came at the end of my non-stop five minute exuberant explanation (over lunch) of the retreat from Dunkirk during the Second World War. Yes. Despite what I’d been told my entire adult single life, I was able to convince the man of my dreams to marry me not through growing my hair long or dyeing it blonde, wearing short skirts and talking about boring things, but by just being completely myself.
Or, from another perspective, I bored a man into proposing. Either way I’ll take it.
On a high, we went home. Once there, I discovered that my passport was not where I though I had left it. My passport, that contained a very important insert that meant I was allowed to stay in the country, and which, if lost, would need to be re-applied for.
I had never had a panic attack until that evening. I sat there shuddering and struggling to breathe with ‘Nam style flashbacks of embassies and being interrogated by grim-faced officers behind post office style glass counters, scrutinising my paperwork with dubious “hmm”s.
In the end it turned out I’d left it in the desk drawer of the place we’d been staying the night before. It was fed-ex’d to me the next morning.
But, I really don’t want to go on and on about the complicated process of up-ending your life completely or the resulting emotional fall-out, nor the amazing places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen this year. Because 2015, while being many things to me, has been the year in which I have really, actually, finally realised the invaluable treasure that is a good friend.
This year my friends have helped me with complicated paperwork, equations and formulas. I have passed tests with their advice and skill, I have laughed out loud though the ground quaked and rattled, and sometimes, dissolved beneath my feet. They have given me a home, a lift, a helping hand with boxes and books and bikes. They have made time to Skype me, to write to me and let me know that though I am far away I am not forgotten. I’ve cried at them down telephone lines and over the internet, and they have selflessly helped me no matter what was going on in their own life. I have worried them with my tears, my silence or flatness of voice, my health problems and sometimes my despair. They have smiled and said the right words when I have told them that I am okay, despite obviously not being that at all.
You have stuck with me. I cannot tell you all how precious this has been to me, how I will never, ever forget the way you have steadied me when I wobbled. I love you all so much and I hope with all my heart that you know how ready I am to do the same for you, should you ever need it. I may be 3000 miles and five hours away, but I will always be there.
A soppy, but true sentiment.
Happy New Year. Here’s to 2016, let it be a corker to us all.