I woke this morning with my eyes crusted shut and the Possum bellowing in the next room for milk. It was, as ever, before 5am and I waited the seconds that would tell me if he would settle. Or not. So without opening my eyes I rolled out of bed, stumbled to the kitchen, poured the bottle of milk and wandered into his room to thrust it into his impatient chubby hands before slipping back into bed.
By now my eyes were reluctantly peeling themselves open and as my head hit the pillow there was a flash of pain as radiant sunlight hit my retinas. For here, for the first time in months, I had over my pillow a shaft of uninterrupted sunlight. No rain clouds; no thunder clouds. No grey mist creeping up the hill to encase our verandah and ghost the entrance of day. Just brilliant, warming, golden light. I fell back to sleep with it on my face, thinking idly of new days, new light, and of course, new years.
It has been a strange year. A year of light and shadow for me. A difficult year. A rewarding year. A painful year. A happy year. It has not been a year that has sailed by without me noticing the passage of time. It is a year where every day has been measured, tallied, added to the whole that has formed 2010. It's not a year that will be lost in the middle of an epoch. It's not a year that we will sit back in years to come and wonder if itwas this or that year. And did this happen then or not? It is a year that ultimately I will be glad to finish the chapter because I am eagerly waiting the year (and years) that will come because of it.
It has not been a comfortable year for me to live. Nor have I been comfortable to live with. But I do not regret this year, because regret can only come if there was nothing to learn and nothing to gain from the experience. But I do feel safe in knowing that at least I will never live quite this year again.
As always when I realise that a new year is dawning I am making some resolutions, which are really just promises to myself that keep me ever aiming. Last year my resolutions were somewhat simple, but I followed through with them. I did get my haircut regularly, and although I am overdue now, part of that is because I am growing my hair again. I am sure I will cut it once I reach my mythical goal, but before I turn 30 I want the hair I turned 20 with again. Long, dark, almost black. But this time with style.
I did not moisturise every single day, because the truth is that I forgot. But most days I did. And many I wore make up as well. Not a full slap of coverage that I could hide behind. But it was an interesting experiment. If I was going to wear mascara then what was the point without having groomed eyebrows? And who wears make up with their hair pulled back in a messy oily pony tail? Oh no, once you start with this grooming stuff you have to follow through. And so I did, on more days than I did not. And I noticed something important. On the days when I groomed myself I stood taller. My back was straighter. My posture allowed me to breathe more easily. And the way that people interacted with me was different. I commanded more attention, more respect and greater self belief on those days that I bothered.
So in short, I plan to continue this one, without the need for a resolution to pull me through.
I've allowed myself to be in more photos in the last year than I have in the last decade. I have taken photos of myself and allowed Bingley or the kids or my parents to take them too. And in truth I have hated a lot of them. Shied from more and shuddered, literally, at others. But I have also found those in amongst that I have liked, that have looked like me and I would never have seen them if I had, as in previous years, allowed none to be taken in the first place.
I like that there are pictures that chronicle that I've lived this year. Pictures taken spontaneously on mobile phones. Pictures Bingley has snapped while I've been distracted and pictures I've asked that he take. Pictures we posed for and pictures we didn't. I don't automatically love myself in them. At first I see only the flaws. The soft jaw, the bloated arms, the pigmentation on my nose. But the more those pictures flick through my screen saver and become part of the tapestry of the year the less I notice those things and the more I notice things like my expression. The emotion I felt at the moment of the photo. The ultimate gladness that for the first time in years I'm actually present in these pictorial chronicles. And I'm happy with that resolution.
My resolution for this year is simple. It is to take time every day to breathe. To stop. To take in a deep breath and to think about it as it filters down to the lowest alveoli and then as it slides back up, and out and mixes with all the other breaths.
I'm going to go to Paris, and I'm determined to take better care of myself and of Bingley. But most of all I just want to breathe. To find time each day to write, at least in my head, and to take deep breaths. Because I've hyperventilated too much this year. So I'm going to breathe. And write. And buy flowers. And take photos. And breathe and write and take photos in Paris.