For me, it has been a year of high cobalt skies, a universe of cloud and ocean, cold and vivid colours, boundaries, borders and demarcation. It is as if the days have swirled past, like pages magically turning in a Hollywood epic while I, as its central character, flew to the top of its spine and watched the story unfolding. I wonder if this is because I have turned a leaf, a corner, entered a new age of few imperatives other than space and pages, words and fiction and the fear, unease and guilt that accompanies the days of a writer (particularly the novelist – I find the poet in me more languid) or the real world has taken leave of its axis.
This year has divided me into extremes. I have been either cooped up and immobile with my leg up (after my hip operation at the start of 2016), or on the move. Since April, every month, sometimes two or three times a month, I have found myself in the long, rounded, high rise glass tunnels of Terminal One, walking, tugging, running betwixt and between faces, places and people, on my way or on my way back, on the conveyor belt, the travellator, or escalator, up and down steps between Dublin and London, across and back between ‘home’ and home, between mother and daughter, friend, brother, son, husband, Brixton, Clapham, Kentish Town, Galway, Limerick, Manchester, Ipswitch not to mention the delights of Athens, and Marrakesh. Now, in the last month, I make the final journey of the year: another move home, the move from Gowna to town, from Drumbriste House to The Bungalow situated on the corner of two roads in Swellan, with a high suburban hedge, under street lamps, across from hundreds of other houses, a short walk from the shops, pubs, library. Another Home from Home.
It is odd. All of these journeys have been dependent on me making them but I feel separate to them, as if I might be one of my own characters, not quite real, still coming into being. I think this is partly due to the real world being almost virtually unreal. Its pages may be turning fast, wars, Isis, corruption, Brexit, Trump, but despite my own fervent activity, my journeys, my travels, I am feeling a silent stillness, a separateness. It feels like time is at a precipice. From next week, I will watch the pages turn, (both real and fictional), snug in my bungalow, and will begin to unpack the hundred brown taped cardboard boxes (12” X 12” X 18”). Visitors are welcome. I cannot guarantee my state of mind but I can guarantee tea, elderflower wine, and cake. Together, we can toast the characters of 2017 or curse them, whichever.