I have been in hiding. Even though I want to tackle this new year with renewed energy and enthusiasm, I find myself feeling flatter than champagne that has been left uncorked for a couple of days. This is partly due to the English Husband’s departure after three weeks of eating and carousing. For those fleeting weeks, I did my best to ignore what I knew was coming (his flight back to London) and tried to live in the moment. Living in the moment does not come naturally to me, since I tend to fret about things that haven’t even happened yet. Ergo, I wasn’t entirely successful and spent some of the holidays tearfully reprimanding myself for my lack of progress in the United States so far.
With a week of January already behind me, I’ve decided that it’s best not to take stock of 2011. What’s the point? It’s over. And I am not the type to give myself new year’s resolutions either. I’ve discovered over the years that I forget most of them by February, and I get despondent by December 31 when I remember what they were. But I think it’s wise to give thanks for the small things in life – so here goes a small list:
- The winter sun. While living in southern California, it’s easy to forget that half the world is freezing cold. Everything looks slightly more cheerful when you wake up to bright sunshine, cloudless skies and the whisper of a warm breeze. Some might call this repetitive weather pattern boring. After living in London for so many years, I would call this lucky. I’ve also learned that I would rather wear my summer clothes all through the year than put on the same drab winter coat for about four months. By the end of winter, I would rather burn it than take it to the dry cleaner’s. Being a responsible citizen, I resignedly take it to the dry cleaner’s every October.
- Essential train engineering works. Under normal circumstances, these words would inspire dread, hand wringing and a tirade against public transportation. ‘Engineering works’ is a much-loved phrase at London Underground’s head office, I hasten to add. But when we were told that there was essential maintenance taking place this weekend and that it would mean the Husband’s train to the airport would leave from a station 45 minutes away by car, we decided to turn it into a small road trip. My brother, his girlfriend, the English Husband and I piled into the car and headed to Oceanside, a seaside town just inside San Diego county. After dropping the Husband at the Amtrak, we headed to the historic 101 and drove along little beach towns until we got to La Jolla. We stopped for lunch, mooched around shops and had a drink. It was a perfect afternoon and the best remedy for a heavy heart.
- The economy. Okay, this one is a stretch, but there are news reports that the economy is slowly improving. According to the United States Labor Department, 200,000 jobs were added last month. This is the sixth consecutive month that the economy has shown a net gain of more than 100,00 jobs. The nation’s unemployment (seasonally adjusted) now stands at 8.5%, the lowest level in nearly three years. When you have been looking for a job for a few months, any news like this throws you a lifeline. I’ve not yet resumed trawling the internet for jobs, a task that previously sent me into a tailspin of despair. But maybe, just maybe, the job is out there in the digital universe – I just need to find it.
- Downton Abbey. The second season of Downton Abbey, the UK drama hit originally aired on ITV, is being broadcast on a local public-service broadcasting station and it kicked off with a two-hour episode last night. I have been waiting for this moment since the first season came to an end in the UK last year and left me gasping for more. It has everything: the backstabbing aristocrats, the scheming servants, a disgruntled wife privy to an outrageous secret, a loyal butler, a disloyal wounded soldier. I sucked it all up – I was left pining for the English countryside in the middle of winter, but only if I could find a roaring fire, in a lovely pub, in a quaint village.
- Unpredictability. As much as I hate feeling like I’m stuck in limbo, there is something kind of exciting about not knowing where exactly I will be a year from now. For most people my age, there is endless repetition. You haul the kids to school, you go to the same job you’ve held for years, you have a mortgage, you come home, you make dinner, you go to sleep. You get up and it starts over again. I am living with my mother, it’s true, but I know that there is something better around the corner. What keeps me going is not knowing what it is.