As I come towards the end of this year, I can’t help but think about how lucky I am. I pretty much have everything I wany in life – I work as a full time writer, make a comfortable living, and live with a wonderful, kind-hearted best friend who shares many interests with me, while having a large social circle made up of some of the very best people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. Outside of difficult to attain fantasies, like becoming a published novelist, what more could I ask for? And even that goal is something I am actively working towards.
The year has been filled with lots of moments that have meant quite a lot to me on an emotional level. In the early summer, I attended the 30th birthday party of my good friend Sarah. It was the first big group outing I’d attended since the advent of COVID-19, and having taken a long time to recover from it myself, the prospect of going there was a bit daunting – but I’m very glad I did, not just because it was an important celebration to mark an important milestone in the life of somebody that I love, but also because of a small moment when I was interacting with Sarah’s mother.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what her name is, because she introduced herself as “Sarah’s Mum” and when I introduced myself, she said “Ah, yes, I know all about you, Adam – you were Sarah’s saviour” which was a reference to the fact that she and I once worked under a particularly unlikeable employer and became friends under those stressful circumstances. It may sound a bit silly, but I was rather touched by the fact that anybody would ever mention me to their parents in such a positive way.
I think that in particular helps to reflect one of the best pieces of personal growth for me this year. I have always had a big circle of friends, but I don’t think I’ve often imagined that they placed much significance on my role in their life when I’m not around. This isn’t indicative of a lack of kindness or affection on the part of my friends, I think I’ve just always done a bad job of accurately determining my value to others. Not in a “Oh, nobody cares about me” sad kind of way, but in a more of a casual “they only care a little bit, but that’s perfectly fine and normal”.
The slow revelation that I actually matter quite a lot to a number of people wasn’t entirely borne out of that conversation with Sarah’s Mum, it’s just a good moment to illustrate the point. Really, lots of moments have helped to facilitate this – my friend Jess giving a (partially alcohol-fuelled) speech about how I important to her I am as we sat in a pub in London, being present for the wedding of my oldest friend, Davey, getting to befriend his wife, Laura, as well as Emilie, the wife of my second oldest friend, George, having my house friend Eilidh describe my as her best friend (which I don’t recall anyone doing before, certainly not in adulthood anyway). These are all highlights from this year, but really, it’s a mental destination I’ve been honing in on for years. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so confident, comfortable, or secure about these things.
However, as much as this year has been one with many positive aspects, in the last month in particular has had a very sombre aspect. An old friend of mine named Jon died unexpectedly at the start of December. I received the news right at the start of a festive meal out with a group of friends and was quite shaken by it. I decided not to disclose it to them at the time, because I wanted them all to be able to have a fun night out as they would have imagined, and in fairness, I wanted that for myself too. I know it’ll be different for everybody, but for me, being surrounded by so many of my very best friends was probably the best circumstance for me to receive that news. A part of me was sad and grieving, but another part of me was so thankful for all of them, and I was still able to have a good night with them all – inwardly appreciating their presence even more, following the reminder that my time with any of my friends is limited.
Jon was somebody that I had been good friends with while I was in school, but in adult life only saw once or twice a year, with loose online contact throughout the year. The loss won’t be quite so sad for me as it will be for his family members, or those who saw him every day, but he still crosses my mind daily since his untimely death. Like everyone, I want to do all I can to ensure that my friends have as nice a life as possible – if some misfortune befalls them, my instinct is to take them out to dinner, or buy them a treat to help them feel better… but what can I do when they died? On top of the feeling of loss, I had bizarre feeling of frustration. Arguably the most horrible thing of all had happened to somebody that I cared about, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to help them. Of course, that’s very arrogant, but not being able to do something for a friend who had met with misfortune was like having an itch I couldn’t scratch.
Jon’s parents would later get in touch with me for help in letting people know what had happened, and giving them information about the funeral. In their communications, they mentioned that he had always looked forward to the Christmas meals that I had arranged for my old school friends. When all was said and done, it gave me some solace to know that I had brought some positivity to his life – and by taking on the responsibility of relaying news of his death to people, I felt I had been given a unique opportunity to serve him one last time.
Does it sound callous of me to say that this doesn’t change the fact that I consider 2022 to have been a wonderful year? A part of me was, and is, sad at the loss of Jon, but another part of me remains happy because of all the good things I have in my life, and the wonderful experiences I’ve had throughout the year. Hiding from the heat wave in a London Pizza Hut with Mairi, playing some old video games at the C-Stick Arcade with Ben, watching an Alan Partridge live show with Rory, going to Sky Garden for a night out with Jess, or wandering the snow-covered streets with Eilidh – it’s all been fantastic. There’s a quote from The Office that is often shared on social media “I wish there was a way to know when you’re in the good old days” and the thing is, I know I’m in the good old days right now, and I hope I’ll get to stay in them for as long as possible.
To conclude, in no real order thank you to everyone: Eilidh, Stacey, Christopher, Greg, Rory, Neus, Malena, Chloe, Liam, Sarah, Edward, Oscar, Jess, Amy, Kat, Leo, Elissa, Stephanie, Lydia, Davey, Laura, George, Emilie, Sam, Sam, Sam, Kristen, Dalfino, Ben, Egan, Christie, Mairi, Hayley, Tasha, Richard, Kieran, Christian, Tom, and last my not least, my mother. You’ve all played a part in making this the best year of my life so far.