So, here we go. As we get rid of 2016 I thought I would try and start 2017 with a way of remembering all the good things that will also surely, most definitely (please?) happen this year.
I’m 30 and can’t drive; have no boyfriend, no house, no cat, no dog and I can’t get my eyebrows right 90% of the time, but hey – there’s still a great 10%. There are also things that I can legitimately be extremely UNgrateful for – the horror of losing my mother to cancer in August 2015 – the horror that preceded it and the horror that followed (and still follows) it. But amongst all the heart-dropping phone calls, tearful train journeys from London to the Midlands and countless battles of caring for someone with a terminal illness, we laughed. We laughed a lot. And it’s completely true that ignorance is bliss – just pretend everything is fine, even for a second, and you’ll be able to laugh. I’m grateful that we got that two and a half years; that I was able to be at home every weekend, to help care for my mother, to buy presents, to hold her hand, to do everything we possibly could. I’m grateful for the amazing district nurses who came out every day and showed so much care and kindness; I’m grateful for the Marie Curie hospice that brought so much comfort to my mum and to us – a place of calm and positivity – and a place that for me mainly holds memories of laughing hysterically (and a place that my Dad now volunteers at, bringing comfort to others). We were lucky and I honestly believe that.
And it made me realise that people are actually really quite nice. From the friend of my brother’s who left a hot meal on our doorstep the day after Mum died, to all those who travelled from London to support me at the funeral, the neighbour we’ve never met who offered us the use of her holiday home and the friend’s boyfriend who just gave me an extra tight hug when he next saw me; from the amazing care given to Mum by all the medical professionals involved, to the friend who travelled with me to the station and put me on the train home so many times, plus all the prayers and messages of comfort, peace and friendship just to say ‘I’m here’ – too many to mention but each made such a difference.
(I wrote some of that in a Facebook post this time last year and I was truly blown away by the thoughtful comments and messages left by people who I probably wouldn’t even know in the street half the time. Knock Facebook all you want – yes there are too many pictures of babies/clicbait news stories/attention-seeking statuses – but it sure made me feel loved).
I was away from London for 50% of that two years; lost my way with some of my friends, lost my confidence for going out, dating, speaking to new people sometimes. At times I feel that at 30 those fun, carefree nights of wild abandon and nine jäger bombs are gone for good. I don’t feel like that person any more even though I definitely don’t feel like a 30 year old grown up either (but I definitely don’t want nine jäger bombs ever again). I know I spend too much time wallowing in social media, scrolling through Instagram wondering why I don’t have 40 Caribbean holidays per year like Binky from made in Chelsea or flawless contour and highlight on a daily basis like someone from TOWIE. It’s not real and we all know it but it’s still easy to to feel inadequate and short changed sometimes.
Nobody really wants to be single. To be that person alone on the dance floor whilst your friend gets it on with a guy – feeling hideously unattractive and self conscious (yes, totally melodramatic, but don’t tell me you haven’t been there). That person in M&S on a Friday night buying a ready meal for one, a bottle of wine and a large bag of cheesy puffs. Nobody wants to be Bridget Jones, despite all the funny stories it might produce for your safely coupled-up friends (and even now, I’m not sure I want to be the Bridget with Renee’s odd face despite the fact that she finally scored a depressingly aged Colin Firth. Bring back Daniel!). But – back to being grateful! Being single in London can be the loneliest place but I’m so thankful to have the friends that I do; the one that brings everyone together whatever the occasion, the one that inspires me to try new things, the one that places a wet pair of (clean!!!) knickers on my head in lieu of a flannel during the mother of all hangovers; the one that gushes with me for half an hour over a new eyeshadow palette; the one that brings me leftovers for lunch and tells it to me straight about those weird new boots. There’s loads more too and I’m eternally grateful. As our lives change, grow and transform I’m happy to share in the joys and sorrows, to be there for them as they’ve been there for me. And then there’s some who aren’t there any more – right for one time in my life but not right for now. I hope we’ll come back together at some point.
Having hosted Christmas at my father’s house this year, we received two lovely thank you cards yesterday morning – one from a friend to thank us for a mere tin of biscuits, another from my auntie. She said: “We have each other, so important in this often frightening world we live in. So much to be thankful for, so here’s hoping we all have lots to celebrate and enjoy next year.”
So, I’m going to try my best to be grateful this year; to do more, say yes more, make the best of things and to find the positives. Further resolutions: find a husband, buy a house, ask for a payrise, learn to drive, attend a sports class, start using an anti-aging moisturiser before it’s too late, get regular (more than twice yearly) haircuts, stop buying the cheapest wine on the menu, find a new hobby, eat more than one piece of fruit per week, master eyebrows. Let’s start with grateful and see how it goes!