A year in time is both vast and tiny. I can’t say the past twelve months were entirely good, but neither were they fully bad. No year is ever all one thing, so to try to sum one up with weak generalities is futile. That doesn’t mean I won’t try, though.
Truth be told, I love any excuse to analyze what we’ve done and plan ahead for what we’ll do. And there’s nothing quite as effective at making you reflect on the past than the future looming ahead with blinking neon lights to mark the passage of time.
I’ve been angrier in 2017 than I remember being at any other time in my life. I’ve been filled to the brim with rage at the state of the world and the state of my country and the willingness of everyday people to let bad things happen. But I’ve also been engaged and excited and hopeful and it’s made me remember that it’s important to look at the world outside my own home and interact with it and that it’s my job as a human to be involved in humanity. I’m grateful for the lesson even if I don’t love the way it was delivered.
It was a year in which I found an old version of myself buried inside and let her out. She argues more and is less likely to be quiet just to keep the peace than the me that developed over the last decade of contentment and motherhood, but she’s more authentic.
It was a year in which I remembered priorities I had forgotten.
I’ve watched my children grow and change too. They also have a new perspective on the larger world and politics and their role in it all. I don’t regret that for a minute. In fact, I’m grateful for it, because their future involvement in the world around them is being shaped right now and I doubt this is a lesson they’ll forget. We’ll all move into 2018 with a newfound sense of the importance of being a participant.
So, while in many ways 2017 was just an awful, terrible, horrible year (politically, globally), it was also a year with beauty and happiness and adventure and love (personally).
We spent another year in England – our last full calendar year here. We settled ever more into our lives here, but, strangely, always with an eye on the fact that it couldn’t be permanent. As we’ve made more and more friends and connections within England, we’ve also said goodbye to American friends we made here who have gone back to different corners of the U.S., their own English adventures over. Those goodbyes only served to highlight the truth that this is some sort of crazy three year vacation we’re on and that the end is, sadly, nigh.
As ever though, we’ve worked to ensure that our grand adventure is not wasted, although I think the pace of our travels has slowed as our involvement in our local life has increased. We skied in the French Alps, trekked across Ireland with my parents and Austria & Germany with Matt’s, explored Normandy, and lounged on the beaches of Menorca. We traveled back to the U.S. twice in six weeks in August/September and visited friends and family that we miss and saw my baby sister get married.
We’re looking ahead to a year of even bigger changes. We’ll move back to America in the summer, but not to the house my kids all know as home. Not even to the same state. Instead we’re heading to Massachusetts, to where I grew up. We’re starting anew again as a family, but for me, I’m heading well and truly home. No matter how sad I feel at the thought of saying goodbye to the adventures we had in England and to the life we built from scratch in Virginia, none of that overrides the joy I feel when I think about going home.
My biggest challenge in 2018, I think will be to give the first six months it’s fair share of attention. My tendency to live in the future is one I’m already trying to overcome; I want to be present and enjoy our last few months in England, but my brain keeps skipping ahead. The football and hockey and cricket matches and the school play and the day-to-day will help me, I’m sure. The kids see six months as a lifetime away, so I’m trying to look at the days from their point of view.
My resolution then for 2018 is to try to enjoy each day and week as it comes instead of looking too far ahead.
The new year is, as always, just a symbol – there’s no real difference in the turning over of the clock on December 31st than there is any other day of the year. But symbolism is important. I need that kick in the pants to wake me up, to force me to examine what is important and to help me determine where I should focus my attention.
I hope you’re saying goodbye to 2017 with some sense of peace and happiness and looking ahead to 2018 with more of the same.
Happy New Year!