It was not until I hit publish on the pink tights/ penis blog that I realised that today is the 28th of January. If that shows that I have no real concept of dates then it also shows that I realised immediately that the 28th of January 2009 means one thing in particular: I have been blogging on DA for four years. And there was absolutely no way that I wanted that to pass with only a six foot penis blog for company.
The last year has, without any understatement, been rather epic. I quit my job at the WYP, moved to London, began my MA, started working for New Theatre and became a Literary Associate for a theatre company based in South East London. Rather emphatically it was the year when I took quite major decisions about where my life is going and what I actually wanted to do with it. Which is all big, scary, exciting stuff. Five months down the line, I feel I've settled into what my life has become and, though I still have the occasional pang of missing people and places (though, not all the vomit), I can honestly say there is nowhere else I would rather be.
There were other things I will emphatically remember this year for, colouring my memory every time I look back. Going to Norway, being overwhelmed with how utterly beautiful a country it was and never again being able to hear 'Mmmmbop' without smirking. Our Tent Village at Latitude, helping to boo a "comedian" off stage, wanting to be Martha Wainwright and deciding that every morning should begin with a bacon sandwich and Marcus Brigstocke. Being privileged enough to see David Tennant as Hamlet not once, but three times (with a Berowne in there for good measure too) and witnessing a performance that utterly broke my heart and made my soul soar. Camping in North Yorkshire where I actually almost died (not being at all melodramatic there, obviously), a tent within a tent at a party in the Midlands and staying at what we became convinced was Fawlty Towers in Oxford. Not to mention getting to see Dublin for just over a hour on a somewhat ill fated day trip but laughing until it hurt anyway.
There was more "Griffining" than has been the case for a few years and in a moment of catharsis for every memory that Oxford has for me I finally saw him sing in my Jericho. And, as I will always remember, got to sing 'This Old Heart of Mine' in a flat in Whitby. I broke one of my 'I have nevers' and flew a kite on Scarborough beach. I danced around a pole in a club in Soho. I found new pubs, new dresses, new jokes. I wrote a play that opened a couple of doors and helped me close a couple that needed closing. And, in June, DA featured in the wonderful You're Not The Only One.
Autumn was a boggling mix of highs and lows. In September I had one of my proudest moments: seeing Dean and Director Boy get married and being lucky enough to play a (small) part in it. Oh, and manging to actually find a deer and thus ensuring that the wedding went ahead. I moved to London and - though it is not something I will ever be able to fully articulate other than in those quiet moments to those who were good enough to metaphorically hold my hand - had to cope with the feeling that I was upping and leaving at exactly the moment when my family maybe needed me most of all. Then, as if this fear had been noted, I received a letter from my Mother which had me sobbing at Forest Hill Station and which helped me more than I can say. And then November came and I still cannot find the words to fully articulate those weeks. It should be said: Alex, we all miss you.
Possibly the thing that will stick in my mind most of all about the last year are my wonderful friends. The new ones I have made over the course of the last few months, who mock me mercilessly, make me laugh until I cry and who mean that even if this current adventure amounts to nothing more then doing this MA was entirely the right decision. The Norway Contingent, even though we're not all in the same country, let alone building, any more who will forever remain my Faux-Family, t-shirts, questionable photos, crazy plans and all. The Northern Division - five years and counting and I am so incredibly glad that I took the decision to get on that train to Boro back in 2003. I have never been more proud of you than I have been this year. Here's to the next five years (meet you in the fountain?). And - Dean. For feeding me cake and piecing me back together more often than I think he realises. I can honestly say I have never felt more (affectionately, I hope) mocked, supported and loved as I do now. Which is a rather lovely place to be in.
If I am truly honest then the last year (with the exception of those heady days in June) has been the year of the bad blogger. I scanned the archives of last year a couple of weeks ago and I was stunned by how much wasn't there. All the stuff that got lost because I was living life and not having the time to blog it. But if my link to DA has been possibly the most tenuous it has ever been then I know that I still feel compelled to blog, I still want to write on here, it is still the place I come to help shape and form my thoughts and feelings. And I honestly cannot see that changing.
If this is traditionally my time to look back then it is also the time to look forward. There are more decisions to make this year, big and small, not to mention the choice I am wrestling with currently, in some ways wiser than I was before and in others just as wilfully careless. There are already trips afoot: Berlin in February with some of The Writers, hopefully somewhere other than Luxembourg with the Norway Contingent later in the year. Tickets for The Killers in Newcastle, Kneehigh in Bristol and John Barrowman in Harrogate. There is also the rather exciting matter of moving in with Dean and Director Boy in late Spring. And I am about to embark on writing my final project for my MA. Beyond that - it really feels like anything might be possible. And I will very much be here to tell you all about it.