Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

An open letter to 2014

Dear 2014,

I know a lot of people can’t wait to the see the back of you. They say they hated you, you were horrible and they’d rather forget you. Quite frankly, they say (and they don’t even bother to whisper) you were crap.

So I wanted you to know that not everyone feels that way. I think you were great. In fact, my most amazing year ever, and I wanted to thank you. When I think of the person I was and the life I had at the end of 2013, I’m even more amazed.

For a start, the whole getting married thing. You certainly surprised me there. I might have said mmmmayyyybe to dating again, but getting engaged six weeks later and married less than four months after that? To a friend I never expected to fall in love with? No half-measures for you.

So I supposed I shouldn’t be astonished that I have a whole new family in addition to the one I already had, as well as two stepdaughters. One is 21 and making her own way in the world, but the other is still very much a kid. I had no clue that one of the things you’d have in store for me, 2014, was a seven year old telling me: “Sarah, you’re the world’s best stepmother.”

I also turned 40. Granted, this was not surprising, because it was something I had been expecting ever since I turned 20 in 1994 and 30 in 2004, but it wasn’t bad at all. At least I threw a party instead of sitting at home weeping about needing Botox. One of the guests was a school friend I last saw in 1987, when we were both at Bryanston Primary.

In yet another sign of progress, I moved out of my parents’ house and in with my husband, who has been kind enough to give me cupboard space. My nguni cowhide is ensconced in front of the TV and some of my pictures are on the wall.
One day we will put up the curtains I had made in May, and which have resided on the floor in the corner ever since.

Thanks to you, 2014, I took my Carrol Boyes wedding gifts out of storage and made a point of using them as much as I possibly can. (The cheese boards and salad servers in particular are getting a lot of mileage on them.)

I carried on painting things, and exhibited my work in Shanghai. I even got my hands on the yellow lipstick I’ve been hunting for years thanks to a friend’s sister who brought me supplies from Edinburgh.

Then there was the professional front. You didn’t start off that well, but by October we had launched the South African office of a global shopper marketing agency. There were three of us at the beginning of the year; now there are 12. We also helped win some nice pieces of new business, which was a useful confidence booster at a time when I needed it most. I got to hire someone I’ve wanted to work with for years, and now we have the chance to build a really good business.

It does feel good to earn a salary for the first time in two years, although there’s one habit from 2013 from which I haven’t quite recovered, which is giving significant chunks of it away to people who ask. (Helping others is addictive; I’ve just got to learn how to manage it.)

I even got to go on business trips to Vienna and London. I visited the apartment where Mozart lived, and paid my respects at the graves of some of my favourite composers, which was completely unexpected and all sorts of wonderful.

Here’s what’s perhaps most remarkable about you, though. I never expected to say the words “I love you” so many times, more than all the other years put together. How amazing is that?

Don’t get too big for your boots, 2014. You weren’t perfect. Several friendships withered away for various reasons, and one or two were ended decisively. There were some low points and some tears, and that little black brak will probably never stop nipping at my heels. But for the most part, you were pretty darn fantastic and I’m grateful for that.

2015, you have a lot to live up to.

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