Hello. I am happy to report that my Christmas celebrations have been a fun one.
I haven’t spent Christmas at home in three years. The first time I was away, I spent it by myself in halls because I didn’t know that public transportation didn’t run on Christmas day, which I was meant to have spent with Richard in Brighton. I lived in halls and everyone else was away for about two weeks (a rare gift!), so I found myself leaning into the solitude and a clean kitchen. I was lucky that the Tesco close to me was open. I was lucky that I was happy with eating sausages and that by that time, my little room was starting to feel like home.
The second year, I had Daniella and Minhae over, and all we did was drift in and out of naps, rising only to eat (Korean pancakes and stew, Greek cookies, a Filipino breakfast) and drink while watching notable Christmas classics, The Gremlins and Chalet Girl. Loose-lipped on a fair bit of boozy drinks, we played a highly revealing game of “Never Have I Ever,” because we are all obviously adults, and relished the feeling of not having to be anywhere, and not having anything to take us to faraway places on that day anyway.
This year, Minhae is back in Korea (though sorely missed). We sent her a picture, and she sent us some back of some food she is having: the salad Daniella made for us last year. I spent Christmas eve with Moki, who is finally here, studying at LSE, Aleks, and Daniella. This was Moki’s first time at my house and she said that she knew she was at the right place because she could smell the adobo I was cooking from the outside.
Christmas day was spent inside with Spanish tortilla (torta in Filipino, lol) and the chicken I make when I’m too lazy and sad to make anything else. We saw, in order: Ready or Not (we were not), Clue, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, and Death Becomes Her. For snacks: a Russian treat (salmon caviar on poppy seed baguette) with prosecco, popcorn, Greek cookies, and chocolate jewel tiles I made instead of earl grey biscuits. We ended up reading towards the end of the night, because a movie about death and impermanence is bound to make you think about your own, and all you can do sometimes is temper the flames of despair, if you can.
The next day, we put on Paddington.
So, my little year-end essay is going to be a little early, because if I don’t do it now, I will either forget or run out of steam. It was a mix of really good and really bad, as I’m sure most years are, though to varying degrees. This year, I finished my masters programme (graduating with okay enough marks: a 2:1), gave a talk, quit my job very unceremoniously, found other things to do, had the best summer, ended up living in a house with someone who ended up being a very good friend. I found a way to stay in London, which at times still makes me stop in my tracks because I’m hit with the realisation that this is where I live now. I’m trying to see where I fit in all of this.
It’s been a struggle to think about moving forward when you think that you’ve gotten rid of the thing that made you feel so stuck, but also losing a little bit of anchor that’s meant to keep you from floating away. Floating is good; it just gets a little scary when you don’t know how to find yourself back to where you’d like to be. I have not been very good at taking care of myself, but I’m trying harder now and moving within myself more carefully, instead of giving into that voice inside my head that keeps telling me I can’t do it. I can’t make it. I don’t fit anywhere.
Raymond assured me that I’m not a mess, and reminded me to take one step at a time, to put one foot in front of the other. “I remember how Pedro Almodovar described Volver once,” he said. “The story of a woman whose life is falling apart and has no choice but to put one front in front of the other to get her and her daughter out of it.” I trust him because Raymond is smart.
In the grandest grand scheme of things, I know that I don’t have super serious problems. The kind that stops your life in its tracks. My life isn’t falling apart, although it sometimes feels like it is. I don’t have a daughter, but I have me, and I owe it to myself to see this through and fight against falling apart.