27 December 2011

2011, the year of contentment

False starts again, what can we say about 2011? I don't like writing prompts, but something I wrote this time last year prompts me to write about 2011 again: what would I, 2010 Stephen wondered, be thinking about come the end of 2011...
I suppose not much of this is a mystery: the same sorts of things Stephen through the years thinks about. Particularly telling, as usual, is imagining telling myself last year what I accomplished this year and imagining what myself last year would have thought. When I list it off, it's impressive enough. 2010 Stephen would be happy, very happy. 2011 Stephen, as per usual, is happy that 2010 Stephen is happy, but at the same time, a bit frustrated with 2010 Stephen's ignorance about the world and simple understanding of success. And so it goes.

When Mia was born, I wrote about completion: she was planned and deliberate. Not a surprise. When I held her on that grey morning, I thought, yes, you are the completion of this family: the final piece. There were supposed to be five of us and here we are. Small, medium, and large.

In some sense, this year has revolved around that choice. I remember now that there was some concern she might have had Down's, but I have forgotten about it. Yoko's body pregnant. The feeling of seeing a new face for the first time, but a face you already know somehow.

I went to bed last night hearing the heating turn on and thinking to myself, how will we afford to heat this house, not realising that we are affording to heat it. Why is this such a surprise to me?

How things change in a year. In 2010: Naomi was terrified to go to playgroup in the first instance--it took her several months to settle and not cry when she was left. This year, she settled at reception in less than a couple of weeks, and now when we take her in the morning, she's a little politician, shaking hands and greeting all of her friends. Her teacher said: remember when she first came? Yes, I do: she needed to follow a procedure. 1) You will put my bag away, 2) I will put my water bottle and lunch away, 3) I will hang up my coat, 4) I will go to the toilet and you will stand next to the rubbish bin, 5) you will take me to Mrs Patterson and I will hold her hand and you will hug and kiss me and then leave.

Daddy: kiss, daddy: hug, the girls say before going to bed.

What I want to remember from this year, apart from the birth of Mia:

Standing outside of Madison Square Garden, Berto came around the corner and suddenly, I didn't have anything to worry about anymore. 

Lying in bed in Istanbul, the first call to prayer started, startling me awake, eerie and mournful at first, and then comforting. The sun was starting to come up and I went to the window to look out into the street.

Coming up out of the Berlin underground, disoriented in the fog, I had a map and there was a Bavarian-style building like you would imagine there would be in Germany.

Best to not worry about the future, the future will take care of itself: best to worry about the future, success is the result of determination and planning. My supervisor says to me, All you can do is your best: everything else is not up to you. She's right: all you can do is your best.

2012 Stephen will ruminate on 2012 and look back at 2011 Stephen and feel the same sort of loving pity. I want to look forward impressed by my success in the year to come, but it is completely uncertain at this point. You'll be okay--it's okay, don't worry: I know all you do is worry.