Now I’ve always been a sentimental old sod (even when I was a sentimental young sod), but at this time of year – with open house declared on misty-eyed reflection – I tend to turn soppier than a soft-focus basket of puppies on their way to a Richard Curtis film set. And, in many ways, my charm bracelet reflects said sentimentality.
There’s the heart-shaped charm that was already on my bracelet when it was given to me on my hen night as a present from my girlfriends. There’s the silver disc and the L and the oyster that were the leaving present from my colleagues on a magazine I edited. There’s the letter P and the ring that P gave me for our first wedding anniversary. There’s the starfish that, in lieu of being able to find an actual star, Mum bought while I was in hospital having my first mastectomy (a story that makes me love that charm even more). There’s the cat and the Routemaster bus that I received on my 30th birthday from the Tills/Si/Polly/Martin collective and my folks respectively. There’s the peep-toe stiletto and cupcake that were given to me by the same family and friends at my book launch. There’s the sleep mask that Jamie and Leanne chose while I was in surgery this September. And, as of recently, there’s the iPod headphone from my mate Weeza and the letter S from, erm, my cat that are ready to take their place on the chain.
But it’s not just my charm bracelet that signifies important things in my life. Whenever something noteworthy happens – be it a significant moment, achievement or event – I like to do (or buy, or write, or drink) something to mark it. (Told you I was a sentimental old sod.) It’s the reason I got my tattoo after completing my cancer treatment; the reason I let off fireworks on the eve of my final chemo, and the reason I saved up for a pair of Christian Louboutins after turning The Bullshit into a book. (A book which, in light of the new year, I suspect it’s now time to stop banging on about.)
While getting reacquainted with my charm bracelet this week, though, I caught sight of another such ‘moment marker’: the eternity ring that P bought me on our way to Mexico this year. It was all a bit of a surprise, really, what with us being in Terminal 5 at the time and me being stunned into uncharacteristic silence when he led me into Tiffany to ‘just have a look’, then proceeded to show off his sneakily pre-researched diamond knowledge to the guy behind the counter (AKA ‘Tony Soprano-ing it’).
‘It’s a look-how-far-we’ve-come ring,’ said P, in deference to a year in which we’d already gone from assuming the worst was over to facing another round of Bullshit-dictated surgery. ‘It’s a screw-you-2010-we’re-going-to-come-out-on-top ring.’ (Is there a collective noun for sentimental old sods? A wailing, perhaps? A tumult? A pander? A cry?) And, by ’eck, it didn’t half cheer me up (diamonds may not be a girl's best friend, but they sure as half know how to make a lass smile). But then, of course, I went and broke my back on the first day of our holiday and rather ruined the sentiment.
Thus, my beautiful ring came to signify not a year in which we were going to stick our flag and conquer as our own, but a lovely moment that we were never really able to celebrate. Which, in true poetically sentimental fashion, is a more accurate a description of the past twelve months than I’d ever be able to conjure up myself.
It’s the new year filled with hopeful promise for my family, unceremoniously gazumped by my auntie’s diagnosis (who is now on the other side of treatment and recovering well). It’s the delighted joy of publishing my first book, stepped on by the muddy boot of mine and Mum’s BRCA discovery (all of which is now in hand). It’s the excitement of our getting-over-cancer holiday, broken at the same time as my vertebrae (ditto). It’s the thrill of watching Jamie and Leanne move into their new home, only for redundancy to take up residence soon afterwards (an unwanted house-guest now booted out thanks to J being offered a wonderful job on Christmas Eve). It’s the vow of keeping out of hospital, thwarted by the surgery to keep me cancer-free (and cancer-free I am). And it’s the relief of discovering Mum’s clear scans, only to watch as she prepares for more preventative surgery anyway (preventative surgery which will, from my experience, not just keep her scans clear, but her mind too).
And so, if you’ll excuse the customary misty-eyed reflection, 2010 has been rather like a mug of hot chocolate that’s cooled to a lukewarm, skin-on-the-surface temperature that you drink anyway because it’s stuffed with mini marshmallows. But since my eternity ring is infinitely prettier than that picture, I’m declaring that my ‘charm’ for 2010 instead; my little glimmer of loveliness from an often frustrating time. Or, as I’m preferring to think of it, the mark of another manure-marred year in which, yet again, we’ve somehow emerged smelling of roses.
Happy 2011, reader.