We need to talk.
Things started so well between us. We had so much fun in those early days when everything was new. You really inspired me. It seemed like anything might be possible in the days that lay ahead. When I thought of you I felt full of purpose, resolution. I was excited about what you might bring, what we might discover together. I was ready for you to take me places, show me things. I was going to be your passenger on the trip of a lifetime!
And we’ve had some good times. We’ve spent time with friends and family, been to new places and met new people. You and I have shared secrets, made plans together, drawn up the blueprints for something wide and amazing and wonderful. I will always be thankful for those quiet, hopeful moments we shared, when we whispered of all our tomorrows.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing, though. Sometimes I found you so difficult to read- I couldn’t see the opportunities you were offering me until it was too late. Maybe if you could have been clearer, things would have been different. A giant, flashing sign saying ‘OPPORTUNITIES THIS WAY’ would have been great. It’s almost like you expected me to work things out for myself, instead of waiting for you to show me the way.
At let’s not forget the fact you hate my housemate. I know you will be rolling your eyes as you read this, but it’s true. Why couldn’t the two of you just get along? It made things so awkward, you always whispering in my ear about how he was holding me back, stopping me from trying new things. I know you will be thinking about those piano lessons right now, but honestly, in the end he was right; it would have meant big changes to how we do things around here to fit those in; it really wasn’t going to be feasible. And don’t even get me started on how the two of you scrapped over the big diet and exercise plans!
You were always trying to undermine him, pull me away. It was you that forced me to make a choice between the two of you; at the end of the day, Routine and I have been together forever- he makes me feel safe. I can’t just turn my back on him.
Then things really started to change. You got mean. You raged and screamed and clawed. We did not whisper together anymore. I cowered before you, afraid of what you might throw at me next. It seemed that, no matter what I did, you weren’t satisfied, nothing was ever good enough for you.
And then, just when it seemed we were turning a corner and getting along better, just when I dared to hope we might be happy again, you burned right through me until I was nothing but ash. Your rage was limitless and you burned and burned until everything was gone.
You took things from me, in those dark days when I was just ash and empty space, things I will never be able to get back.
I can’t forgive you for that.
And then you forced a tomorrow upon me. Then another and another. You held me down and made me swallow one tomorrow after another. You pushed time into my veins like a transfusion, days and hours and seconds forced though my body so all I could feel was the thrum of second after second after second, relentless as you whispered that I just had to live through it, keep breathing through it.
The time started to fill the empty space, it began to return me to myself. Not the me from Before. You made it quite clear there could be no return to Before, no matter how I begged and bargained and pleaded. You were firm on that point, I have to give it to you. Every time I begged for Before, you pointed to the time in my veins and slowly shook your head. Only After, you would say gently, over and over again.
There is only After now.
Then one day, when the time had made me stronger, you pulled me to my feet and made me walk through what was left of everything I loved. You stood beside me as I looked at the devastation you had wrought. You held my hand as I looked anew on the people around me. I used the strength of all your tomorrows to pull those I love to their feet, as you had pulled me to mine.
And now you tell me it is time for you to go. That you will never return.
I can’t say that I am sad. I can’t tell you that I will miss you or that I wished you would stay. To me you will always be fire, you are pain and loss and the violence of grief.
And yet, and yet.
You took me to After. What a strange new place that is. Dark and cold and harder than Before. But clearer too. Those opportunities don’t seem so hard to spot in After. I look clearer too. Harder, yes, but clearer; I can see the good and the bad. I think I can make changes without waiting for you to guide me now.
Routine doesn’t care much for After, but he will adapt, as I have had to. I am learning more and more each day. Time still pulses through my veins. My ticking heartbeat reminds me to use all the power of tomorrow to fulfil those grand blueprints we drew together, you and I.
So thank you, 2015 and goodbye forever.
PS: I think it’s only fair you hear it from me- I have met someone new. He’s called 2016. It’s early days, but he seems pretty decent so far. He’s got big plans for me, so he says; he’s promising the trip of a lifetime, if I’ll be his passenger.
But I have some pretty big plans of my own.
Starting with some piano lessons.