Here it is, with some final edits I couldn't help but add, for that is my way.
It’s the eve of my 32rd birthday. I haven’t written half as much publishable writing as I’d have liked to this year, but I’m a fan of the retrospective of a Year That Was Something, and boy was this one a year just like that.
I like to take a breath and mark a moment before the next year starts - tomorrow, I will be into my 33rd year on the planet, and that will be another story entirely. Maybe.
It’s been a real bitch, this 32nd year - and yet. And. Yet.
I’ve pulled myself together to write a Distinction-worthy Masters dissertation in a little short of a month (not counting reading and crying time), fighting those motherfucking Imposter Syndrome whispers all the way to the submit button. I can write! I have actual, honest-to-goodness original ideas. The sweet relief of it - I can’t begin to tell you. I even fell back in love, just a little, with the power of delivering a good strong sentence to a blank page. To let that certainty flow through me and to recognise it, however fleeting - a joyful miracle.
Another gorgeous happening, the strength of which I am only truthfully starting to grasp - the unexpected friendship of two warm, well-dressed (I believe this is fashun, Hamish?) and ridiculously goodlooking men. With open and well-muscled arms, you both pulled me in your separate and special ways out of some spectacularly deep mud, and into a space carefully lit up with avocados, drag queens, memes, wine, whisky and c-bombs, as well as (whether you admit it or not, Dan) good old-fashioned love. In a world that often feels like bits are missing, inexplicably you’ve become those bits. You’re a safe space to yell, nap, scoff mexican food, drink cups of tea. I’m endlessly grateful for it.
I’ve been let in close to friends in tough places - I’ve shared the chance to chase away the shadows in city concert crowds, I’ve shared bottles of scotch in the height of unspeakable minutes that turn the world upside down. It’s an honour to be close and trusted with every part you’ve chosen to share, and a privilege I have done my best not to take lightly. I wish I could love all of you as much as you deserve to be loved every damn day - I’ve done the best with the love I have to give, and I thank you for letting that be enough.
I get to live in a houseful of flowers with possibly the best woman I know (besides my mum) arranging them into beautiful perfection, appreciating my cooking, encouraging the brand of self care that calls for movies and puppies. You have turned a house into a home, and I do not care how cliched that sounds, because it’s true. You’ve kept our glasses full of wine and are always, always there knowing just how I feel and then occasionally paying for my therapy. I love you, Mikaela Ingvarsdotter.
Each year I seem to get a little closer to knowing something good, and I feel like this year has taught me plenty, although there’s been less good to know than I’d have liked. I’ve been quiet for a while, and it’s because of how sad I’ve been. Bloody goddamn sad. A person I really quite liked stepped out of his story much earlier than any of us were ready for, and it sits with me every day, the way I know it sits with all of us.
The thing nobody tells you about grief is how quiet it is. It lays itself in your bones so they’re just a little more dense than they were before. It lines the pockets of your clothes; it rests just a little heavy on your tongue. The thing nobody tells you about grief is how you’re alone with it so much of the time, because of the way people forget. The way people forget is sort of important too, to keep the world moving. The thing nobody tells you about grief is how it slaps you in the face; sucks the air from your lungs; drops you from a great height. It’s also nothing shocking - there, tucked underneath other piles of loose papers until the stone weighing it all down is shifted and it’s away.
There’s nothing to do but keep breathing, so on we breathe.
There’s more, of course. There’s knowing my family are all coming home this month; that my brothers will be nearby for beers whenever I’d like is something so impossibly good I am waiting to be sure it’s really happening before I believe it. They bring with them two pretty great women that I can’t wait to have around.
I did a lot of thinking, doing and feeling to the accompaniment to a pile of tunes this year - here's 31 I picked for that year that was. Special mentions go to Dan and Hamish for reminding me about Roxette, to Clare Bowditch for inspiring my dissertation and to Kate H for showing me how Bowditch's music was meant to be heard. Thanks to Sampa the Great for getting me through it, to St Vincent for existing (same goes Holly Throsby, Bec Sandridge and Asgeir, all of whom I managed to see live this year). Music is life, and it's the encouragement of Jordan, Elle, Alana and Dylan that put a good pile of these bangers right in front of me this year. Many thank yous, friends.
I start this 33rd year a little tired but a lot hopeful. I think 32 year olds get to have their feet on the ground but their heads still in the clouds, and even if that’s self-proscribed, it’s advice I’m going to take.