It was about a week out from Christmas. I was do / did / DONE with 2016. And I was especially done with talking about how bad 2016 had been. I felt like a broken record. I felt like people were sick of me, sick of my vulnerability, sick of my neediness. One friend had adopted the habit of taking a deep breath in and visibly preparing himself every time I opened my mouth to speak.
2016 was loss. The loss of my marriage, of money, of my wisdom teeth. The death of hope, of AA Gill, of “Manuel”, of Leonard Cohen, of Gene Wilder. Of Alan Rickman, of Muhammad Ali. Those who inspired me to write, to laugh, to feel, to dream. To forgive, to fight.
But the bad guys won, and we were told if we couldn’t be perfect then there was no point in trying.
All I wanted was for 2016 to slip away, to go gentle, into that good night.
In the dying days of 2016, I decided to dismantle the only remaining stability in my life. The thing that had allowed me to leave my marriage, and allowed me to stay in France. Like everything else this year, it was messy and underscored with tears, but wholly necessary.
Later that same day, I escaped the overwhelming festivity of the office Christmas party for a few moments of much-needed solitude at my desk. As the music ebbed below my feet and the war cries bounced off the blow-up toboggan – I breathed out.
THIS is how 2016 ends, I thought, opening the file that held my “you had to be there” CV.
I’d barely updated my address when my book-and-wine partner-in-crime rounded the corner with two full glasses in hand.
“Ça va?” he asked, knowing full well what the answer was.
Bit by bit others dropped by: first glasses, then bottles in hand; until the usually solemn space was filled with a glorious hodge-podge of people who’d somehow made this year bearable, fun, even.
My friend’s phone rang, and in the raucous way of people who’ve enjoyed the open bar a little too much, we answered on speakerphone.
A moment of serendipity in the middle of chaos; that led to an afternoon I skipped home from.
And out of the blue two days later, an interview that inspired.
Neither this job nor this person will ‘save’ me. Neither could cancel out that which came before them. And they may both yet turn out to be castles in the air.
But as 2016 slips through our fingers, like the sand from a beach holiday long-forgot, I make one last request: Do not go gentle into that good night. (Let’s) Rage, rage against the dying of the light.*
(*Dylan Thomas – Do not go gentle into that good night)