I love this time of year. I love sweater weather and layering on the blankets, lighting candles and seeing Christmas lights. I can’t wait for the first snowfall. I love the way the year starts coming to an end in a remarkably beautiful, cozy, and nostalgic way – the way that makes you start thinking about the past twelve months. Naturally, I started thinking about how I’m going to write a year-in-review for 2019, and came across the not-so-year-in-review I wrote in the airport last year, and never posted. At the time, I felt like everything I wrote just reminded me of how much I was struggling to write, now, I appreciate it again.
Early January, 2019 – almost a year ago.
Right now I’m sitting in the airport in Toronto, early for a flight that will take me back to Vancouver. New Years Eve has come and gone which means that I’m already pretty behind when it comes to writing a year-in-review. It’s not for lack of trying, trust me.
Truthfully, when I got back to Ontario for the holidays I wasn’t thinking much about 2018. I started a 18 moments from 2018 note in my phone, but mainly because I knew I’d thank myself for it later if I could get the review out on time. That being said – this isn’t it. At least, it’s not the annual review I do of the past 12 months. This is about the past two weeks.
A lot of what I write about is either heartbreak, emotional rollercoasters, or the complicated relationship I have with being home and away from home no matter where I am – a different kind of heartache in itself. Naturally, coming back to Ontario is always one of the most beautiful, wonderful, and confusing parts of my year.
So instead of thinking about the past year, I was thinking about the cottage. About how my cousin Rach and I would agree that the new owners haven’t done it any justice. That their white leather couches will never compare to the ugly old green couch we had in there. They don’t have anything up on the walls, their dining room table likely wasn’t $5, and I doubt any of their stuff was plucked from someone else’s roadside garbage. Like I said, they haven’t done it any justice.
A day after being home I went to our family gathering on my mom’s side. My aunt handed me three journals. I started to cry – which was a little bit surprising but given that most of us were on edge that day, it wasn’t entirely. The journals began in 1998 – the year three of our families teamed up and bought the cottage. Every guest at our beautiful A-frame cottage on Chesley Lake signed the pages in those journals. I was just reading about the time I had swimmers itch.
I think my memories of the cottage are simply synonymous for an overwhelming craving for my family. And right now, I’m thinking an awful lot about family. A couple of weeks ago we were all thrown off balance. You know the story – probably too well. Somebody gets sick. It’s worse than expected. So we’re all living in limbo – waiting for answers – praying a lot – calling each other up and allowing ourselves to cry.
This week Rach and I pulled out “the box”. When we were younger we purchased a relatively large decorative box and filled it with scrapbooking papers, stickers, and miscellaneous keepsakes like a heart-shaped frame with Tom Cruise’s face in it. We completed an entire scrapbook about 12 years ago which is equipped with many “dear diary” entries, candy wrappers, and an envelope where we were planning to store money. We also have an overflowing envelope of all the letters we sent to each other as kids. This box is gold, and if you happen to attend either of our future weddings, you might get a chance to witness it.
With 5 photo albums from my childhood and the remnants of “the box” scattered across my floor most of that week, I was thinking more about 10 years ago than I was about the past 12 months. Sometimes it just works like that when you go “home” for the holidays. I wasn’t writing anything, let alone my year-in-review, because I didn’t know how I could talk about the year with everything else that was going on.
On New Years Eve Rach and I went to our grandparents home and spent a couple hours diving into the scrapbook and catching up. We took pictures with pretty pink roses and our Nana told us the standards we should have for flowers if a guy gives them to us. In the afternoon my mom and I blared country music in the car and tried not to think about my flight approaching. By evening I was drinking champagne and eating a stupid amount of chicken nuggets with a group of incredible friends.
I’ve done the whole coming-home-for-Christmas thing 4 times now. It’s still complicated. It’s still hard to leave but good to come back regardless of which direction I’m going.