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Life According to Joanna: Transitions

by Joanna Gregory

What is it about this time of year that makes us feel like there is a fresh start in the air, a transition of sorts? Is it the end of the ‘holidays’ and the feeling of returning to school? Years of being institutionalised that autumn is really the start of the year and not January 1st. The fun of summer is over, the nights suddenly draw in and our winter wardrobe starts giving us the eye.

Personally, I frigging love this time of year. I love Bake Off, I love Strictly. I love lighting fires and snuggling under blankets. I love being able to eat an absurd amount of pasta and not feel guilty because I simply want to stay warm and a little podgy. There are no expectations, unlike summer. And this year’s has proven to be exactly that, a massive disappointment. With autumn at least we are guaranteed those crisp, sunny mornings staring at multi coloured trees, which is truly one of life’s simple pleasures.

This time around will be a very different one for me and the transition will be huge. I’m venturing into cuffing season alone after my partner and I went our separate ways at the start of the summer. Breaking up is tough. And it doesn’t get easier with age, but as we get longer in the jowl what we gain from being in those relationships is so much richer. We learn more. We love, we teach, we evolve, we nourish. There is always something to cherish from the love we experience. I feel so unbelievably proud of what we achieved together. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without them, and I feel truly grateful for the time we spent together. It was beautiful. 

Now, I’ve been single before but for a fairly short time all things considered, and life feels very different now. Nearly all of my friends are in gorgeous relationships, I’m about to enter my 40th year and Covid has dramatically changed the way we live our lives, day to day. This landscape feels exceptionally different to the one I trod a mere three years ago. 

It’s been almost seventeen years… yes, SEVENTEEN years since I have truly been on my own. To say I need to reconnect with myself would be an understatement. Who am I outside of the comfort of a relationship? Who is this woman before me, because the last time I checked she was practically a teenager, jetting off to Ibiza every other weekend and spending most of her other free time on dancefloors. However, swapping (some) dancefloors for personal projects feels like a good place to start and the changing of the season brings a world of inspiration with it.

Our long-awaited summer of fun, being ‘free’ for the first time in eighteen months has died down. We’ve all spent far too much money and had too many-a-late night, with our diaries yet again in a place our mid-lockdown selves promised they would never be. But here we are. I think we’re all feeling the shift and keen to batten down the hatches for some quieter, cosier times.

For me, this transition into the new season and way of life hasn’t been easy. I genuinely feel like I’m on Mars. Everything feels new, everything feels odd. You haven’t got that person for the small things; chatting about your day, sitting in a corner of a candle lit pub glass of red in hand, or sending a Spotify link over because you think said song would make a good football chant. Daft stuff that only the two of you get. I relish having a sidekick, a best pal. I have waaaaaay too much love inside to not share it with someone. I’ve dabbled with apps, but I know by doing so I’m only satisfying my ego and scratching a carnal itch (a girl’s gotta eat) but I know deep down I am only distracting myself, chasing false connections. If I’m truly going to get to the next chapter, I need to clear the decks, get my head down and focus on myself. This heart is closed for the time being.

It’s time to take on all the projects I promised myself I would do as soon as restrictions were lifted. Writing more (hiya). A pottery course (watch this space). Potentially take to the stage again (advisable not to watch this space). Who knows, the possibilities are endless. And while I begin to emerge from the recovery position after the summer and mend this heart of mine, the long evenings and quieter diaries make for a perfect time to transition and to ease into this new landscape, massive bowl of pasta in hand.

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