As a product of the Jamaican school system, which is modeled off the British school system, for most of my life the start of a new year was not January but September. Every September was a new beginning. Back then I did not make new year’s resolutions or set goals, I just went to school on that first day in my new everything with my new books (new books are the best) and just listened to what the teacher said.
As I got older, school got harder, not academically but just the other things that go along with it. First going to a new school and being in a class where everyone had been in class together before and being the newbie, then having that happen again in the subsequent year when my 1st grade primary school teacher forced me to skip a grade which resulted in most of the friends I eventually made in the 2nd grade leaving for high school while I was stuck in the 6th grade because I was too young to do the Common Entrance in Grade 5. Then there was high school and puberty and boys and wanting to be different but at the same time, the same.
When I think about school, the best times were at Randalls Prep (kindergarten), where I read from the Happy Venture Series about Fluff and Nip and Dick and Jane. (Fluff and Nip is being sold on Amazon for USD 53.34 used so if anybody reading this still has a copy you can probably put it up for auction on Ebay. I would personally be interested but I am definitely not going to pay USD 50 for it.) I remember my red plaid uniform, my red lunch pan and my red cup. Christmas and the end of the year before the summer holidays were times to look forward to as we had “breaking up”. “Breaking up” is equivalent to what a class party is today. Lots of junk food before they send you home to “terrorize” your parents for the holidays (well not me of course, I was an angel). It was there that I learned to be curious and to be a vociferous consumer of the written word and most importantly I was not forced to come out of my shell. My three years there set the stage for the rest of my life.
As school morphed into work, the year started to begin in January and I have made to do lists, not so many resolutions, but in the last few years my years have begun to start for me on my birthday. Today I am 4 days into my new year. This year is a weird sort of place to be. A weird place, because in some respects, things are not yet what I want them to be but at the same time, I see many things falling into place and in some cases realizing that the things that are falling into place are not the things I imagined they would be! And still there are things that I still cannot see through, struggles that I must face.
Today, I have a better understanding of who I am and if I am honest I can say that I am happy. Not happy because everything is great and not falling apart, but happy in spite of my fears, insecurities and the things that are in fact falling apart. Happy because even though I am not sure how long it will take me to get to the end of the tunnel, I can see the light. Happy because I feel like I can actually let some more people into my “exclusive” circle. My circle is not “exclusive” because I am a snob. My circle is “exclusive” because I am an introvert and people often exhaust me and my circle gets that. They get that even though we do not see each other or talk every day, I am constantly thinking of them and sending good vibes their way and the times that we do spend together are meaningful and are best when it is just a few of us. And yes some of the times I spend alone are some of the best times ever! Once while I was walking in Emancipation Park, a man told me I did not have to have my face made up so all the time and that I can smile (I am paraphrasing) but I make my face up so people will not feel like I am approachable so I can do my 5 km walk with only my own thoughts for company and sometimes I do smile but I am careful about when and where I do it since I do not want to be sending the wrong message :).
For the past three years I have been having a blood drive birthday party – food, cake, drinks, lyme, give blood. People think I am doing this great thing and I suppose it is, but I do not really dwell on it. What really blew me away this year were the people who came for the first time, the person who tried even though just a few days before she was gung-ho about not donating because she was scared, and especially the persons who came just to see if I needed help cleaning up. It was a fantastic day and whenever I start feeling low, it will be definitely be at the top of my go to memory list to help cheer me up for this next year of my life. Thanks again to everyone who helped and/or showed up.
I am filled with hopeful optimism, buoyed by the knowledge that I am not alone both physically and spiritually and that this year will be my best year ever! So I am keeping my head down and not counting the laps – swimming the laps at my own pace.