It is the last day of 2008, and as is my wont, I am reflecting on the year that has been. So, while others are out reveling in the incipient celebrations of the night, I sit, in my brother’s lovely and otherwise vacant Wellington house, thinking and writing. Throughout the year I have enjoyed reading the online journals of others (particularly those of my friend John Forde), and have often marvelled at their capacity to comment with such vivid interest and unique perspective on matters of the world. I recognise that I do not do this. Instead, when I write – I write on myself and generally my internal world. That’s what I’m like, I guess.
So, this last entry of not-so-many in 2008 can’t break the trend entirely, but still can mention some of the people and events that have shaped the year, and me.
The year in school has been magnificent. Notwithstanding the visit from the Education Review Office which sent me into a tailspin of self-doubt and anxiety but through which we ultimately glided with flying colours, I have found my work entirely stimulating and fulfilling. Events outside of school lead me to reconsider its place in my life and as a result of eschewing the notion that I should resist its tendency to take over I have never felt more enthralled nor satisfied with any endeavour. When you consider the disasters occurring in other areas of my world, it’s a great relief that my job has been so engaging and rewarding. Highlights from the year are many, and largely consist of individual moments of insight or achievement by students who would (or should) not accede to being mentioned here. Nonetheless, it can be said that the teenagers with whom I work provide me with a sense of meaning and validation that is as-yet unknown to me from other sectors of life. For that, as much as everything they achieved for themselves while on my watch, I am deeply grateful.
To the personal world, then. This year began for me in a state of fragile bliss, which was shattered only days later with the creeping realisation that “bliss” was not the word my counterpart, Gavin, would use to describe our time together. Never before has a man (I would even say an unlikely man) so captured my heart and imagination. What followed for me was a terrible loss of confidence and surety, which if I’m honest I am still working through. During this time, and this is never advisable, I formed a connection with another man from Wellington, George, and my developing closeness with him occurred as some kind of parallel process to my grieving for what I perceived I had lost with Gavin before him. Given that these men both hailed from Wellington (where I now write this) is significant in so much as it has to be said that my day-to-day life was scarcely affected by their presence and ensuing departure. Yes, as the year’s end drew near, George also pulled the plug and I was once again thrust into the world of solitude. There must be a message in this. Solitude. I had felt incredibly warmed by being the focus of these men’s interest, yet each time I was forced to come back to myself.
With a difficult and confusing dissolution of a budding friendship in Wanaka at the beginning of the year, I most certainly had to confront my solitude face-on. The journal entry that precedes this one is a reasonable summary of the state of play on that subject. I find that in spite of my melancholy I tend to do pretty well on my own.
I once again strapped on the lycra for a reprise of my aerobics instructing days as I took over from my gorgeous friend Bagley as she took leave from her classes at the local gym to have her baby. This didn’t seem like enough so before long I was working with Sue and Haagon who own the local gym on developing an outdoors training programme. I had a grand time with these people, and realised that often a diversion outside of work, even one that uses a lot of energy in its own right, is a perfect foil for the responsibilities that may weigh on me in my real job. I don’t know how long I’ll continue this return from retirement, but I can say that teaching aerobics is still a heck of a good time.
Against the trend for the year, my relationship with my neighbours Mike and Merryn has become a constant and much-appreciated source of mirth and joy. With a sense of having them ‘watching over me’ (to the extent that they might arrive on my doorstep at midnight to just check I’m ok) I feel that my aloneness has been ameliorated by a feeling of being under their custody. I’m so grateful for this..
My house itself has continued to make me smile. It’s such a friendly little place, and I truly feel safe and at-home there. My shift from the mobile environmental catastrophe that was my old Landcruiser, Heath, to the fast and really quite gorgeous Subaru B4 I now drive has been a good one, and has enabled me a sense of having a ‘getaway’ route available to me should being a gay alien in a heterosexual small town suddenly feel ‘too much’. I love driving, and this car simply adds to the pleasure.
While my triathlon training took a hiatus for far too many months this year, by the end of the year I had found myself committed and remarkably sanguine about the Half Ironman I’m about to tackle in Tauranga on January 10th. I’m still entirely in love with my bike, and in recent months have had a lot of fun as much with the intermittent training as with the idea of myself as an athlete. It hasn’t actually arrived in the mail yet, but the most firm evidence of this diversion is that I bought myself a triathlon suit just for the race. Even typing that makes me laugh. The long-planned road trip to the event is currently in action – and though I’m spending rather more time alone in Wellington than I had anticipated when I booked my ferry crossings, it’s largely living up to my enthusiastic expectations.
A lot more has happened in my year than this, but this I think is enough to give you the tone and nature of 2008. It’s been a hard one for me, but I think it’s been necessary. I’ve conquered a few more of my demons, and I’ve settled into myself with a vengeance. I’ve reaffirmed my love my job as a teacher and I look towards 2009 with positivity and calm.
What more could a man want?