I can’t believe its the last Sunday of the year! So much has happened in 2012 and time has flown faster than ever. Have you done everything you wanted? I surely haven’t! A year later and I am still muddling through… Well. Maybe, I have learned one or two things.
Christmas in Kent. Blake and Laura had decorated the house lavishly and were welcoming their guests affectionately. I had decided to bring good cheer apart from the big old leather folio with historic maps of the world for Blake, a cashmere twin-set from Laura Ashley for Laura (yes, I know: the tiniest dig against her, but she would never know…) and plenty of baby stuff for the newborn.
Laura was radiating happiness and even Blake, who was usually so quiet, seemed to be emanating ease and delight. As I saw them standing on their doorstep, Blake with the two older sons and Laura with the wee baby, I had to swallow. For a second I considered turning round the car and speeding off, back into my blissfully baby-free single-world. It would have been so easy.
But then, I remembered, why I had decided to come and that I was determined to share their joy and hope: I had created my life the way it was. I had not wanted to be in Laura’s place despite the many chances life – and Blake – had given me. Deliberately, I had closed that door and now I must live with it. Dwelling on the past and on missed chances would never make me happy.
I hitched a smile onto my face as I stepped out into the cold winter air and when Blake hugged me to his chest, I truly felt the happiness. I kissed Laura, admired the baby and was swept into the hall and into another world.
I emerged from this world two days later, full to the brim with turkey and stuffing, christmas pudding and vintage sherry. The festivities had been tasteful, the decoration elaborate without being kitschy and the spirits high. All in all it had been a really good christmas!
Still, I couldn’t stay in this bubble of joy forever. I needed some time for myself, to think about the last and plan for the new year. I had tried finding a small cottage in Devon or Cornwall for a few days. When nothing cosy had come up (somehow I had set my mind on a fireplace, large bathtub, old wooden beams and absolute solitude…) I decided to fly away to Switzerland and rent a tiny chalet in the mountains.
Hidden deep in the woods of some very secluded mountains I found the perfect place. It took me a long while and a friendly, bearded swiss dairyman, who incidentally didn’t understand a word of what I was saying, to get there. But I arrived eventually and felt almost instantly at home.
I had asked the landlady, a kind-faced somewhat rotund farmer’s wife to supply me with enough sustenance for at least five days and she had risen to the challenge magnificently. Apart from plenty of ready-made firewood, the larder was groaning under home-made soups and pies, cheeses, hams and a wonderfully fluffy coarse rye bread. With a knowing smile, my kind landlady had also provided me with the best swiss chocolate. Mhhh… five days couldn’t possibly be enough to eat all that?
Dusk was falling fast and I was glad that my hosts had helped me to light the fire. Soon, the little sitting room was full of the crackling of damp logs and the overpowering smell of good, home-made food was wafting through the house. Without telephone, internet or TV, I was completely isolated from the world. My mobile phone might work, but I had decided to switch that off and enjoy my solitude.
Once, the necessary activities of preparing food and eating, unpacking my suitcase and making myself at home were over, I started feeling a bit nervous. We are so completely surrounded by other people, by media, by the sheer force of civilisation that I felt quite struck with the silence.
I concentrated on my breathing and the beat of my heart slowed down. This is probably more natural than anything I know from London, I thought. Still, it took me a while to shake off the uneasy feeling. Five blissful days, I did nothing but reading, walking, eating good food and thinking. I reflected on the last year. Much had happened – good and bad.
I thought about the men I had met… True, there had been a few quite memorable albeit short-lived passionate encounters. None of them matter now. Two men stand out of the “crowd”: Julian and Blake. Two loose ends? No. I think I have finally found closure from the past with Blake. He is happy with his family and I have made my choice. There is no going back!
And Julian? Well. He is still in New York. We occasionally exchange news, but always carefully skirt the really important questions. I know that he has moved to a new place, that his job is going exceptionally well and that he was in Europe once or twice. He knows that I am doing well and that I have been travelling a lot. I guess he is doing the same than I am and that he hasn’t found the love of his life in the big city over the pond. Does that mean anything to me? I don’t know if I am honest. Although I haven’t thought much about him during the last months, it feels good to know he is there somewhere…
Tomorrow, I will fly back to London to celebrate the beginning of another year. What will the new year bring? All I know is that it will be fantastic!
I will make sure it is :) Happy new year!