A difficult year. In better moments it was a so-so year. In other moments in which I take the bigger lines and shapes of my life into account it has been a bad year.

There is a dog now in the family and that makes me happy. We had a great summer vacation in northern Finnland. But this year was not without strain to keep moving in a positive direction or at least not lose ground. Like making it through fast flowing rapids. There was lots of stress: self-made and unavoidable at once. I broke my arm in the end of 2020 and needed to heal the first few months of 2021. Things at the job were hard and at times disappointing. Looking back, this year showed me the strength of my now six year long relationship; That we managed to get through this year together, trying to understand each other even more, giving each other space, when we knew there were lots of things going on. I am proud of us being able to talk, to forgive and to move on. Around midnight, when the neighbors were lighting fireworks, we acknowledged the year for what it was, especially for us two (the dogo was sleeping through the explosions…). Me being the more optimistic person even went as far as being hopeful for the new year. It carries the opportunity of a fresh start. We smiled and kissed.

The pandemic didn’t help. Being here in Finnland’s north meant that we both experienced increasing cabin fever: a new topic was discovered. Do we need to move? How do we manage giving space and time to each other in a loving, non-condescending way? One fascinating aspect of being in a long-term relationship is how the relationship and with it oneself and the other changes over time. I wonder what captures this dynamic better: The continued reveal of yet another onion skin or a more evolutionary abstract image of ever-changing symbiotic organisms. It is the question between an essentialist and non-essentialist viewpoint. Whatever it is: Not knowing (or rather: deciding) makes this dynamic no less interesting to me.

This year was hard and in many ways one I’d like to forget. But I won’t reduce the year to that. There were beautiful, funny, heartwarming, delightful moments. And these I won’t forget.

I am grateful for the past year’s me trying to keep the ship afloat even when I wasn’t feeling like it.

I am grateful that I continued to be interested in cooking dinner for us. I feel like I have improved a little.

I am grateful for the dog coming into our lives, our little chaos agent, that brought us so much happiness in a year of strain.

I am grateful for my relationship and my partner being there and giving me the reality check that I sometimes needed. Or the back rub. Or the space and time. Or the normality of everyday life. I love you for your honesty, humor, your smile and you holding me accountable. You, like no other can make me reconsider a strongly held belief. You, like no other can make me belief I could be a decent man if I tried. Thank you for being here with me, E.