An annual tradition is starting to happen. The ‘looking back on the year’ articles in newspapers, on websites and blogs such as this. Which is what has started me writing, sat here in Liverpool early on this Saturday. With Elizabeth Alker on Radio 3 playing me into the morning as she so often has, this year.
Writing this isn’t my own idea then. Its direct source being this morning’s Guardian article, which they’ve called ‘The Lost Year.’ But has it been, really? Or for those of us who’ve avoided the virus, and are not the kinds of essential or exploited workers who’ve had to work harder than ever, might ‘quiet’ be a better description of a year and a time in our lives that isn’t over yet?
For me, and for Sarah here, this has been the year when we didn’t move house. The bright windowed flat overlooking Sefton Park stopped looking like such a good idea once the first lockdown had arrived, and sitting out in our yard became more precious to us than we’d ever realised. So we’ve stayed where we were.
It’s been the year of macro settings on our cameras too. Closely focussing on the wildflowers and mosses Sarah’s been studying and therefore I have too. Focussing intently on our life together as well, in the quiet of hardly any other people being very much in it at all.
For me specifically this has been the year of living in a triangle. From home in Wavertree, round the corner to Penny Lane for essential shopping, along to the allotment on Greenbank Lane where I’m still doing most of my University work, then back home. Sometimes walking various versions of a long way home, but always centred on that triangle. The triangle of my life this year.
A year of daily habits, so’s to know what day it is. Not working at the weekends, washing our clothes on Wednesdays and Saturdays, lunch together at the allotment on most Sundays. Working there whenever it’s been safe on each of our PhDs with my friend Abi, the other person in my life during a year when I’ve been so grateful for our friendship. Making our series of podcasts, together with other University people, that have gone some way towards making up for the lack of other conversations in this quiet year.
This year of missing you. All you everybody elses who would usually be in our Liverpool lives together. Glimpsed occasionally across a group Zoom, a rare, precious and distanced walk, or masked and accidentally either side of a pavement. I’ve watched and retweeted so many of you being some of the people who’ve fed the hungry and the homeless, got the safety equipment to the hospitals, washed the nurses clothes, taught and treasured the children, and begun the making up of our maybe better futures, delivered on cargo bikes. I’ve missed you so much it’s hard to even type how much.
And yes, this has been the year our leaders have failed us in so many ways. Ways we won’t forget about, I suppose, afterwards. That word of the year ‘afterwards.’ But I don’t want to end on all that.
Instead I’ll finish with something from a regular, rhythmic, weekly treasure. Which is a newsletter from a Scottish-Italian man called Laurence Demarco. Arriving every Friday morning it’s reliably reflective and full of the wisdom of his greater years than mine. Yesterday he finished off his own end of year thoughts with this quote from Sheenagh Pugh:
“The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you”
May it happen for all of us, after this year of living so quietly x