They say one should always begin in media res, in the middle of things. I don’t really feel like I am in the middle of anything, if truth be told, nothing other than murky 2020, a year that started… oh, I don’t know, maybe twenty years ago.
To begin… begin from where? To begin where I left off, nine years ago? Possible and yet, difficult. I’ve just re-read that my last post from July 2011, and I struggle to think of what was actually making me sad at the time. It is quite possible that it was my financial situation at the time. I had been out of work for close to three years, it did take me a while in the end to get back on an even keel. Quite possibly, that’s what I was referring to. Maybe. I don’t know.
What I do know is that every year since included some key events:
2012 : my darling dog William died. He was just over 13. I was devastated. I am still traumatised.
2013 : we moved to London in our first rented place. I was still working in a large corpo place, safe I would make the jump to a job, or role, that would permit an excruciatingly high rent in a really central place on my own financial steam. This place was on expenses.
2014 : I left that job and took over my flat as my own. I had made it!
2015 : a very difficult year, with no work and plenty of trouble. Luckily, I had saved enough the previous year to navigate myself to the next job the following year.
2016 : Victoria died. She was two days short of her 14th birthday. I was horrifically scarred. For the first time in seventeen years I had no animal in the house. in April, I adopted Saffy, a stray from Cyprus. I had a difficult time work-wise, and felt abandoned at home.
2017 : I sold the house in Cheshire. I landed a new job. Months later, I told Richie I wanted to divorce. He moved out in December.
2018 : I met Sam. My divorce came through in the spring. My new relationship was scary. Sam was a difficult person for reasons I couldn’t quite figure out.
2019 : I navigated the year as best as I could. Sam was still terribly difficult. I didn’t know what the problem was. I wanted to be with him but I also wanted to be alone. At the end of the year I had to look for a new job. I landed it in December.
2020 : I started my new job in January. Sam quit drinking then started looking particularly ill. Finally, and after some truly scary turns, he was diagnosed with diabetes type 1.
When I type “to begin”, I keep mistyping it as “to being”. And perhaps it’s true that, for me, to be is to begin. This wasn’t my only writing space for many years. I had (and still have, really) another one running from 2010 to early 2019 but as Victoria died in 2016, I noted that my posts became very few and far between. I never wrote about William’s passing. It was too excruciatingly painful. Even now, I cannot think about his last few moments, I cannot think about my searing grief without re-experiencing it again afresh.
When I re-read some of these posts, and I have done it occasionally throughout all this time, I feel horrible pangs of longing. I know what it is, it is nostalgia, but as I always tell anyone who will listen, beware of nostalgia, it is a thief and a liar. It has this unique ability to epurate the past, to dim all difficult times, all pain, all grief, all arguments, all loneliness so that the good things come into focus. But they were not in focus then. They were mixed with the anger and the everyday, with the mundane and the annoying, so much so that life was not better then, it was worse. I know it, you know it, everyone knows it.
But somehow, I look back, and I pine for William and Victoria’s faces, even as their sticky white hairs were driving me nuts, I pine for the garden always cold and overgrown, because in Cheshire it rains all the time, even as I couldn’t keep it under control and it was an embarrassment, I pine for my car and for the Starbucks in Wilmslow, even as I was sitting there lonely, buffeted by my emotions, struggling to see a line in the water I could latch onto. I pine for the country lanes I used to drive through, even as I felt cut off from the world, in the clutches of a terribly provincial mentality I never quite swallowed.
It is a liar, nostalgia. It clouds the memory, obfuscates the truth, it turns every lie it tells into a regret that shouldn't exist. It is disappointing that life can only be understood retrospectively, but I am glad it must be lived forward. I am presently forcing myself to look ahead. Don’t look at the past, they say, you are not going there.