When I searched through my photos of the last year, looking for one that encapsulated 2012, I found this one taken of my back patio, with the new table I'd bought in hopes of enjoying a sweltering, sunny summer. It was taken during the one week in May we actually had summery weather. The rest of the summer, save for the weeks during the Olympics, was a dud.
As the Met Office gets ready to declare 2012 the wettest year ever (possibly), it seems strange that this one photo, of a summery garden waiting for a pitcher of Pimms and a barbecue, represents my year. But despite the rain, 2012 was a pretty good year, for me.
Oddly, we began the year in a drought, and February was declared one of the warmest ever. But weather highs or lows were the least of my worries, since in January I'd had the news I'd longed to hear for years. One of those editors finally got back to me with a Yes. My first novel would be published, at last! I'd had a feeling I was getting close, but when the moment arrived—just as I was about to turn in for the night, as it turned out, due to the time difference between the US and here—I was beyond ecstatic.
I wrote about the experience of getting The Call here, on my author blog. During the next few months I had the amazing experience of going through three rounds of edits (!) (yeah, too many exclamation points is apparently a major problem I have) and will soon see my cover and the final copyedited product. It's been scary, and thrilling, and deeply fulfilling. This is what I've waited my whole life for, so whatever else 2012 has brought, it has been a year I'll never forget.
I wasn't the only one in the family to have a major career move—at various points during the year all of us received good news about new jobs, new ventures. And the relief of knowing we'd be staying here, at least a while longer.
Yet the year was marred by tragedy, as well. In March I got another phone call, this time to tell me my brother was missing, likely drowned. It was a week before his body was recovered, a time of uncertainty and regret and reaching out. I returned home, reconnected with family members, and was struck by how many people my brother had touched during his too short life. The eulogy I wrote for him was the piece of writing that meant the most to me this year.
I also dealt with two other faraway tragedies this year, neither of which touched me personally but both of which angered and saddened me. The Aurora shooting, and the Newtown shooting both left me despairing that gun violence would ever be curbed in America. Living overseas has made me accutely aware of how fewer gun deaths there are in other parts of the world, and how senseless it is that every day 85 people in America loose their lives at the point of a gun. Will 2012 be the year that finally convinced Americans to do something about their addiction to firearms? I certainly hope so.
The Olympics, an event we all were dreading, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. (Boy, was that a quick about face!) I scored tickets to the women's basketball gold medal game, which of course the USA won handily. It's been years since I watched a basketball game, and I was pretty proud to be an American that night—and pretty proud of my adopted country, too, when it was all said and done.
We've had masses of visitors this year, and I've taken them to all the usual places: Stonehenge, Avebury, Windsor, and a few new ones as well: Old Sarum, The Manor House at Avebury, Boulogne-sur-Mer. Playing tour guide, despite the lousy weather, is one of my favorite things to do.
We had an election in the US, which more than anything reaffirmed my faith in my fellow Americans. The Tea Party, it turns out, represents only a minority of Americans, and despite attempts to suppress the vote, determined citizens stood in line for hours to exercise their right to vote. This president, admired around the world, will likely be remembered as one of the best we've had in modern, and very troubled, times.
As I type this, it's a drizzly, gray day, warmer than it should be. This year may turn out to be the warmest our planet has seen in a very long time, in addition to being the wettest here in the UK. There's not much chance that trajectory will change, at least not in my lifetime.
But I've had enough of frowning at the rain. I'm hoping for better weather soon, and better times for everyone, especially those who didn't fare so well in 2012.
May your new year be filled with all that you hope for, and happy, sunny days as well.