Been doing a bit of an inventory of you, 2017. But it's not really you. You're just a year, one of those 365 day cycles during which life happens. But in the absence of anyone else to sound off to, 2017, you'll do. (I'll give husband, Al a rest. He's been living the dream anyway.)
2017, you began well and had me feeling euphoric. I had to remind myself that this was perhaps 'tourist excitement' before the inevitable 'culture shock'. You know that theory? Change can feel good at first, until the rot sets in? Given I'd quit my day job, I was wary of my initial elation, keeping an eye out for signs of ennui.
But, dear January 2017, I allowed myself myself to experience the joy, soaring along the Otago Rail Trail on my rented bike on the south island of New Zealand or remarking, with awe, the snow-capped mountains in Queenstown, the wineries of the Marlborough region. Ah, that trip augured well for more to come. Western Europe in May for a few weeks sounded enticing. Would have to organise someone else to do for mum, of course, but we'd managed in the past.
I aimed for a little structure in my work-free life, just in case. In early February I joined an elementary German class at Melbourne's CAE and a community choir.
I was feeling ecstatic, back then, 2017. Even that night after choir when my car wouldn't start. Remember? I had music in my heart and lungs under a velvety clear star-studded sky. Who cared that I was waiting by the road side for a bit of assistance from the RACV? I was home an hour or so later anyway, bursting with passion for life, amazed that I'd been out alone in the night, managing an inconvenience without swearing once. You know, by 2016, so drained was I from teaching that I rarely ventured out in the evenings except to compulsory school affairs. Yet there I was on a Thursday night, February 2017, having shrugged off the mental load, soaring.
Worked on Al then. Why should I have all the pleasure? So incredulous was he to witness my transformation, he also packed in his job.
But February 23, before Al had a chance to savour his freedom, you were there in the diary all along, waiting. The end of peace; the start of an agonising story that's not mine to tell. Will just say that Al was not the first of my loved ones to be diagnosed with cancer this year. Quickly found a heavy door in my mind, wrenched it open, shoved my fear inside and with all my strength forced the door shut. There's no lock though. Have to guard that door and keep it secure.
So, 2017, you presented the opportunity to discover how resilient we all are; how brave. We've been up close and personal with the random nature of our lives, two old mums languishing with dementia in nursing homes, well, until my mum died in September; our daughter's young, vital man battling cancer, Al getting prostate cancer - the 'good' one.
Suppose the rest is chicken shit, Reggie. (Note to absent sister.)
So long and thanks for the memories, 2017. By the way, despite everything I've had a worthwhile year. It turns out both learning a language and choral singing, especially in French, are really mindful pursuits. Hard to think about anything else when you're focused on acquiring a third language; practically impossible to sing in a choir without feeling gleeful when that harmony is produced. As a bonus, they both came with a phalanx of new like-minded friends.
See you tomorrow, 2018 Let's hope we can do better.