I don’t need to mention that this year has been… difficult.
But rather than add to the noise about the horror of 2016 – the deaths of numerous icons, the dream of the first female US president tumbling into the abyss, and the opportunity to spend Wednesday evenings watching people make cake whilst eating cake disappearing forever – I’ve decided to focus on the positives.
Because there’s nothing like a year filled with endless news stories of sadness and despair and a, frankly, terrifying political landscape, to make you appreciate the smaller moments that make up each day. So here are a few of the small but precious moments that made this year unforgettable for me. And I’d love to hear yours too.
Halting mid-order at the bar on Battersea Rise to sing emphatically to Blank Space by Taylor Swift with Ceri. Thank you for your patience, Mr Barman.
Sitting in the British Library with Alexa, working on our separate writing projects alone but together, and rewarding our efforts with door stopper sized pieces of cake.
Hearing my brother walking down the stairs saying “Alright then, dude” to his 10 day old baby son, Jack, who he was about to introduce us to for the very first time.
Having a panic attack at St Pancras station whilst waiting to meet Emma, telling her I was suffering, her saying “You know, I don’t expect anything from you” and it disappearing just as quickly as it came.
Receiving my first ever yes from an editor I’d pitched a story idea to cold.
1am Sunday morning, late January. Standing on the train back to Wimbledon with Sarah, covered from head to toe in sweat after throwing everything we had into Shake It Off. People stare. We regret nothing.
Watching Jack fall asleep on Leon and witnessing the precise moment my husband fell in love with our nephew.
The final seconds of Orange is the New Black series 4. *mouth wide open emoji*
Standing in a cramped pub in Hackney, the windows streaming with condensation, bouncing along as my friend Sara played bass in a David Bowie tribute band and having it confirmed that she is indeed the coolest of chicks.
Purchasing a yellow leather backpack under the guidance of my boldest friend, and never looking back.
Sheffield, August. A whole afternoon with Jen, Matt, Jo and Leon. I discover Hendrick’s, tonic and cucumber. Life becomes even more interesting.
The response I got to a blog called Solitude is good for you, loneliness is not. I thought talking about finding social situations difficult and needing time to myself would make me sound weird. But, as always, it’s never just you.
Reviewing my choice of outfit (below) for a two and a half hour hike between the Cinque Terre in Italy and realising once and for all that nobody will ever accuse me of being outdoorsy.
Dinner, La Loggia, Levanto, Thursday 19 May. We are at our best.
Falling out of a bar at 8.45pm on a Friday night with my two favourite drinking buddies, laughing like hyenas and heading off in search of food, any food, to soak up all the delicious, if ill-advised, margaritas we’d consumed.
Every time I did that particular type of sigh I reserve for when I close a book I’ve loved. (There were 16 this year, if you’re interested).
When Leon and I used our Nutribullet to make margaritas and we learnt the hard way what it tastes like if you line each glass with table salt instead of rock. (Not good, bro).
Watching Jack eat the tiny remaining peas from his dinner that he’d spread around his high chair from the tip of his mum’s finger.
Seeing the way he looks at her.
Demonstrating that I know all of the words to Mysterious Girl by Peter Andre at a wedding and feeling not a single ounce of shame.
The look of amused surprise on my friends’ faces at Thorpe Park when they discovered just. how. seriously. we take roller coasters.
Being taken to Budapest for my birthday and learning that the first rule of wearing a hat in 34 degree heat is: keep the hat on until you can shower your hair back to normality.
Spending a day with my five oldest friends discussing everything – from the super grown up world of marriage, mortgages and babies, to the most immature game of GUESS WHAT XYZ FROM SCHOOL LOOKS LIKE NOW! – and managing to empty a pub with our endless guffawing.
Every single commission, recommission, published piece, and positive comment that confirmed that, writing wise, I’m in this for the long haul.
The three hour masterclass I went to on how to structure a novel. I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes, but at least I know how to find out.
Discovering that, in Italy, having a doughnut for breakfast is not just acceptable but encouraged.
A chocolate milkshake with Rachel. It was 50% catch up and 50% “Charlotte, don’t let this opportunity pass you by – I’m going to help you take it.”
Realising that one of my very favourite things to do when I’m alone is to play No Matter What by Boyzone and sing both Ronan and Stephen’s parts. And don’t pretend you’re not now off to do exactly the same thing.
The expression on Leon’s face when he came home to find I was making homemade burritos for tea.
Going to see Frankie Boyle, Bridget Christie, Stewart Lee, Hans Teeuwen and Luisa Omielan and feeling that special type of excitement that only comes from watching really, really good comedy.
A Wednesday night in November. Stepping onto the escalator at Waterloo and smiling because that evening with those two women just happened.
Every other time I walked away from a catch up thinking “I cannot wait to see that person again.”
When the cat that visits our garden came into the flat and sat on our sofa for the very first time and there was an entire five minutes when I didn’t think she hated me.
My younger brother standing on the platform at Leicester station and pointing through the train window at empty seats because he knew I was worried about having to stand all the way back to London.
All the days I managed to continue living my life despite having a migraine every week for six months. You don’t get to win, I do.
Christmas. Every second of it.
Feeling everything on my family’s priority list silently shift and Jack taking his place at the top.
Standing in the upstairs bedroom of what will hopefully be our new home and seeing our future waiting for us.