For auld lang syne

So we’re at the first day of the year again already. 2017 was a challenging year, but not without its rewards. I spent far more time in ICU wards than I would have liked and, although one of the OAPs pulled through and is restored to good health, we lost another earlier this month.

Through that turmoil,  some big work changes and the start of a fledgling relationship, I’ve been surprised by the reactions of some. You think when you hit this age that friendships are set but this year proved otherwise. I’ve been humbled by the support and love given by many, and saddened by those who stepped back or away completely for whatever reason. Others have reconnected and new friendships have also been forged. On balance my circle is healthier for it.

All the best for 2018. Grasp it, enjoy it, live it. It’ll be awesome, it’ll hurt, you’ll laugh and you’ll cry. Submerse yourself in it and do the best you can. Life is short; don’t waste it, make it count.

As my favourite group of Swedes would say (and did say, way back in 1979)  Happy New Year.

No more champagne
And the fireworks are through
Here we are, me and you
Feeling lost and feeling blue
It’s the end of the party
And the morning seems so grey
So unlike yesterday
Now’s the time for us to say…
Happy New Year, Happy New Year
May we all have a vision now and then
Of a world where every neighbour is a friend
Happy New Year, Happy New Year
May we all have our hopes, our will to try
If we don’t we might as well lay down and die
You and I

Sometimes I see
How the brave new world arrives
And I see how it thrives
In the ashes of our lives
Oh yes, man is a fool
And he thinks he’ll be okay
Dragging on, feet of clay
Never knowing he’s astray
Keeps on going anyway…

Seems to me now
That the dreams we had before
Are all dead, nothing more
Than confetti on the floor
It’s the end of a decade
In another ten years time
Who can say what we’ll find
What lies waiting down the line
At the end of eighty-nine…

Sad Tidings

It’s been a tricky month, hence my absence on here.  My only aunt, my mum’s elder sister, died on Friday after a short illness.  It’s been particularly hard on my mum watching her only sibling unwell and in pain, especially when she’d been so robust and independent before then.

Although she was 83, she still lived independently and definitely knew her own mind.  She was widowed nearly 30 years ago having never had children so my brother and I were spoiled by her as the only children in the immediate family.  She continues to look after us now she’s gone which I am particularly grateful for.  The last few days have been focused on supporting my parents, informing others, arranging her funeral – selecting music and readings – and ensuring her last wishes are honoured.  It’s all been a bit surreal.

There’s something about this time of year that makes losses or difficult circumstances more poignant and harder to deal with.  I think it’s because everyone is expected to be ruthlessly jolly from Hallowe’en to New Year and the focus is on the family unit, which can be particularly difficult for those who can’t, don’t or won’t fit that mould.

As well this bereavement, a distant cousin is losing her six year battle with cancer, and leaves a 13-month old daughter behind.  An old friend and her husband have made the tough decision to separate.  Another is nursing their partner after a serious car accident.  All feel guilty for not feeling festive or being as invested in the seasonal activities as society tells them they should be.  It’s always hard to have to share sad, bad or tragic news, but at this time of year it always seems worse; as though you are responsible for spoiling the happy times of others.

It can be really difficult to articulate sadness, loss and grief.   Edna St Vincent Millay says this so much more beautifully than I ever could, so I close this post with her words.

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.  Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone.  They are gone to feed the roses.  Elegant and curled
Is the blossom.  Fragrant is the blossom.  I know.  But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know.  But I do not approve.  And I am not resigned.

Edna St Vincent Millay

Rinse, repeat

The dating bus has struck again.  Two chaps I’ve known quite a while have been in touch after long periods of silence.  Very surprising.  If you’re a long-time reader of this very sporadic blog you will have heard of both of them before.  In addition, my cheese and wine first dater is also still messaging me.  Not entirely sure why as we aren’t going to meet again, but he’s entertaining to chat with so perhaps I’ve acquired a new friend.

One of the repeats is a guy I’ve known eight or nine years having met originally on-line.  I last saw him in April 2015 and we went out a couple of times but he was hoping to have more fun than I was prepared to indulge him with, so he flounced off.

He got in touch again through Facebook to tell me how much he liked me, always had done and really missed me.  Hmmm.  After an 18-month absence I was a little cynical about that.  He asked he could take me out for a drink as he really wanted to see me again.  I said he could if he remembered our conversation from last time, as our next “date” wouldn’t end any differently to that.  Funnily enough I’m still waiting for that drink to be arranged.  It would appear leopards really don’t change their spots, or their expectations!

The second one I also saw last around the same time, although I’ve known him much longer (about 20 years, eek)  and we go out as part of a group of former work colleagues every 18 months or so.  In fact, it’s partly due to him that this blog has the name it does.  Anyway,  I was up later than usual and, just after midnight, a private message popped up on social media asking me if I fancied a drink before Christmas.  I was intrigued, thought “why not?” so said yes and we met up later that week.  I half-wondered if it was a group meet or just the two of us, but really suspected the latter as I found out a couple of years ago that he’d always carried a torch for me, although I was completely oblivious to that at the time.

We had arranged to meet near Covent Garden (I was suitably late, oops).  It was just us; it would seem the torch still glows.  We found a pub and had a catch up on the last couple of years; we had always got on well, and we still did.  I asked during the evening why he suddenly got in touch; as he hadn’t ever messaged me before I was curious.  Turns out he was bored, had had too much red wine and it seemed like a good idea.  Ha!  So much for romance.  At least he’s honest.

It was a good evening and we have met up again since; we manage to talk about all kinds of nonsense, interspersed with more serious stuff, which I like.  There has only been infrequent messaging but a third escapade is on the cards.  I am not sure about intentions or longer-term aspirations, but it’s a bit early yet for that.  I’m trying not to do my usual and overthink and overanalyse everything, but it’s a challenge.  I shall see where this goes; I already know there will be complications on the road ahead, so it is likely not to be all plain sailing.  Lovely mixed metaphors there!

Two blog posts in one day – I am amazing myself with this productivity level! Lol.  Normal sporadic service will soon resume, I am sure… 🙂

 

It’s a new dawn, new day

I had a date tonight.  We ate cheese, drank wine, laughed, and talked a lot. Will I see him again? I doubt it.  He’s a lovely guy and on paper he’s pretty much the perfect match. But… Chemistry. That elusive spark. Not there.

Sometimes I think I’m single because my expectations are too high.  Sometimes I think they aren’t high enough. I want a soulmate. Someone who champions me, believes in me, loves me unconditionally and can tell me to rein it in.  I know they exist; several close friends have found theirs. There’s always hope.

What I don’t want is someone with so much emotional baggage that we can’t carry it between us.  Someone so involved in their own drama that they can’t see anything else.

I ran into an ex and his current girlfriend last week at a party. Those who knew we’d dated were being all over-dramatic about it, waiting (hoping?) for fireworks. We disappointed them; had a hug and a quick catch up then moved on.  I thought it was entertaining and was pleased to see him happy.  She seems a challenge, but I liked her.  It reminded me of why we didn’t work out and reaffirmed that not “settling” is the best road for me.

I know what I don’t want. I sometimes think I know who I want, but then talk myself out of it.  What I do know is hope springs eternal. And, to quote Nina Simone, this old world is a new world and a bold world; I’m feeling good.

Que?

I got a bit philosophical on Facebook this week, after some fairly childlike shenanigans in my main social group leading to most of us being blocked and unfriended after someone was challenged over some fairly inappropriate behaviour.  It’s the second time this year a couple have chosen to extract themselves from the group with no explanation and it’s sad, in most senses of the word.

I always assumed that when I was a “grown-up” that kind of behaviour would be left behind in the playground, but it seems to just as prevalent. Maybe social media brings it to the fore, and maybe also brings out the worst in some people.  Gives them a platform with the shield of not being face to face or having to own their behaviours or choices. Who really knows, but it’s caused some turmoil and really revealed that you don’t always know people as well as you think.

I’ve always been lucky to have a fairly large social circle. About three main groups with very slight areas of crossover if mapped on a Venn diagram.  One is my “home” group and comprises those I met at infant, junior and secondary school and am still in contact with, plus people I worked with while a student. It’s a fairly static group these days; the new additions mainly being babies. The second is my “uni girls” group. Again, fairly static, I’m the only single one and the majority have children and/or work in education. The third and biggest group is the “woo folk”; people I met through a male friend at uni and have known since my late teens and early twenties. The core is fairly constant but there have been some departures and arrivals over the years, but this year has seen real change.

As well as the “it’s my ball and I’m taking it home” nonsense, others have also been dealing with serious health issues and family problems. However we have also had great times away together as well as celebrating birthdays, an engagement and a wedding.  And we’ve also had some new people join our group and it’s been fabulous.  I said on Facebook that they’d arrived “crashing in with glasses in hand and it feels they’ve always been there. And they’ll stay”. It’s true. Although I only met them a relatively short while ago, we are connected.  I feel know them better than the ones who chose to leave, one of whom I’d known over twenty years.  

I was in a virtual chat with two of them after midnight yesterday discussing dating, kissing critique, enormous cheeses and flavoured tequila. It involved Fawlty Towers impressions, hobbit references, train journeys and tears of laughter. It was wonderful, refreshing and ridiculous. Perfect.

 I call these combined groups my tribe. It may sound corny or trite, but I don’t care. We are all connected through mutual friends, shared values, similar interests and experiences, some losses and ridiculous senses of humour.  But at the middle is mutual respect and love. They both shine through.

This year has been a bit of an odd one in terms of friendships particularly, but I do think it’s been a leveller as well as an eye-opener.  People’s reactions to change, and to you making life-changing choices, can be very interesting.  Particularly when it throws their balance off when you refuse to engage with their power games and instead challenge their belief that everything revolves around them.  For me it’s helped to reveal what and who are truly important. I feel I’ve found my space and it’s a good place. Life is short. Grab it, use it, love it, don’t waste it.

Long time coming

Well, hello again.  I hadn’t realised it had been quite so long.  I’ve not even got a good excuse for being so neglectful.  If any of you thought I’d finally met my Prince Charming and been swept off my feet in a romantic whirlwind I love you for that, but sadly not.

Two of my favourite folk, who amazingly met on Tinder about 3 years ago, got engaged at Christmas (and married last weekend, but that’s another story).   I’ve started working as a sessional Registrar and officiating at weddings at weekends, and other people have also been coupling up which has brought my lack of a significant other into stark focus.   I decided I ought to be a bit more proactive about this as, while I’m happy with my own company, I would far rather have someone to share life’s adventures with.  At the same time I’ve been losing weight and so have a bit more self-confidence, although I am still rubbish at reading any “I’m interested signals” from the opposite sex.

I decided to dip my toes back into on-line dating in June this year after getting back from Glastonbury and the constant reminders that it would be much more fun with a plus one.   A friend of mine is a social media guru and I did ask her for a recommendation of a dating site that would be less “shaggy” than others in London.  Tinder, Love Struck, Plenty of Fish and My Single Friend all seem to be full of guys looking for a hook up or a bit on the side.  No thanks; been there, done that.

She thought eHarmony might be a better option so I signed up for 3 months (see, no commitment issues here!) and dutifully read through the profiles they matched me with, sent smiles and comments.  Nada. Zilch for the first couple of weeks.  A few responses started trickling through, but were either from people in different continents (helpful) or guys wanting a hook up.   Hmmm.   I decided not to renew my subscription, and just before it expired a couple of chaps not too far away made contact – one in Kettering the other in Bedford.  Marvellous I thought, a date may ensue.  However not yet.  They are both very chatty – message me on WhatsApp every day – but no suggestion of meeting.  Sigh.  I shall have to take the lead on this I guess, which I don’t really want to do as I have to do that all the time at work.

When I was posting before about my (lack of) dating activity, there was a guy at work who was seemingly interested (CSG).  After cycles of interest and absence, then being taken for a night out at the Shard (fancy!) and then him being an arse,  he left the organisation we both worked for.   Probably the best outcome in reality.  He has tried to contact me once since he’s been gone, but I’m not interested in his little power games any longer.

There are a couple of men in real life that I am interested in, but as usual am paralysed by overthinking the possible outcomes of everything going horribly wrong if I let them know I like them.   I shall have to work on that.  I’ll update you on progress!