Always In My Head: A London Calling Series
The New Year (Death Cab for Cutie)
2017 is coming to a close and I feel like it just started yesterday. It’s been a wacky and wonderful year that I honestly have a hard time believing that it was my life. I watched the people I love do absolutely incredible things that make them happy while getting the opportunity to travel the world while supporting the man I love. I wanted to take a minute to look back on the year that was and bring you along on the journey with me.
If there was a theme to this year it was new adventures.
Kim and Nate brought twins into this world.
Cam and Alyssa had a beautiful baby girl.
Lizzy expanded the bookshop to include a real cafe as part of it and not just me with an espresso machine.
Frankie and Patrick painted the bar, which isn’t really an adventure but TOTALLY was.
Lyla styled and did makeup for her very first magazine cover!
And my boys…oh my boys have had the best year ever. From #1 singles, albums and movies to babies to sold out tours. These four dudes have gone on to blow the minds of the people who love them with the successful next chapter in life that they’ve each created on their own.
And while we know I love all four of those guys that allowed me to follow them around with a camera, sing show tunes at the top of my lungs in the streets of foreign countries, and be the crazy person that I am, one of them holds the keys to my heart and soul. It’s hard to put into words just how proud of him I am. He was in a film that debuted at #1, he had an extremely successful album, both commercially and critically that most important of all was loved by his fans around the world, a sold out world tour, a second planned and on sale, appeared on Saturday Night Live, and the list of things he’s done keeps going from there.
And then there were my adventures. I toured the world with the man I love which meant I got to photograph the world with that man by my side. I am getting the chance to write more which fills my heart up so much. I got to spend time with my family and be with the people I love most in the world as they do amazing things.
So in honor of adventures here are a few photos of the adventures that H and I have had this year.
Sometimes the two of us just have fun with a camera when we are trapped places and can’t get out an explore, which sadly happens more than I would like. But this man is the greatest model a photographer could ask for. And this photo is one of my favorites. The way he’s looking at me through his hair, just about ready to play with his lower lip because he knows it makes me crazy, that as soon as I took the photo he started laughing me and chasing me around the room. This photo captured a moment at the beginning of this crazy year that was shared just between the two of us but was worthy of the world being let in on.
H, thank you for supporting my work in more ways than just reading what I write or looking at my photos but allowing my work to be part of how you show the world what you’re up to. You’ve been my biggest cheerleader for the last almost 3.5 years and I’m so grateful to have you.
Those Styles kids should be models. I swear. My foray into freelance writing that has happened over the last several years (not just on my blog but in other places) has been strictly because these two humans believed in me and encouraged me to write and not just write about my life on a blog but write about things that matter to me. To use the voice and platform I’ve been given to make a positive impact on the world. They have helped me through some dark times and been with me to celebrate during the light.
Over the years, Gemma has become one of my best friends and I feel lucky that the man I love has a sister who I love. Thank you for your endless support of me, your brother and our relationship. We are both unbelievably lucky to have you.
So I mentioned those times where we are stuck inside and can’t go anywhere. I’m not the only one looking through the viewfinder on a camera during those moments. H thinks he’s a fashion photographer sometimes and starts directing me around hotel rooms and rentals and our houses to make me pose for him. He’s crazy and I love him but some of those pictures are amazing. You’ve all seen them before, placed into my blogs so you can see my face on occasion, you just perhaps didn’t realize he was the photographer because he refuses to take credit. This is one of the photos where I feel he truly captured me. The smile on my face is because of him being goofy. I very rarely stop smiling during those moments because it’s as if the world stops and the two of us are able to just be for a while. Thank you for always keeping me laughing, Dimples.
That moment where all our dreams came true.
When H’s dreams come true, my dreams come true. But the night at The Troubadour was the night that LITERALLY MY DREAMS CAME TRUE. I mean we’ve gone to see Fleetwood Mac together several times, I’ve met everyone and they are truly magnificent people who are loving and welcoming to these two crazy kids who were raised on their music. But getting to see my idol share a stage with my fiancé was one of those moments where I nearly stopped breathing. Her voice soundtracked so much of my life, her style influenced mine, the way she lived and loved showed me that growing up and following society’s rules didn’t have to be in the cards for me. From the very beginning Harry has known that I wanted to grow up to be Stevie Nicks and he’s loved and encouraged that in me. I can still close my eyes and hear their voices together. I want to thank every fan who posted a video or took a photo because I only managed to get these two because I was in the balcony with Harry’s guests BAWLING MY EYES OUT. I am sure everyone remembers my absolutely incoherent blog post about that night, I still haven’t found the right words yet and just manage to ramble on about how much I love Stevie Nicks.
Stevie, thank you for your support of Harry and the friendship you’ve provided to him. Thank you for not thinking I’m a freak with how much I love you. And thank you so much for this moment. Watching him get emotional on stage was something I knew he was fighting but you have meant so much to him over his lifetime that having you share a stage with him was something he hadn’t ever imagined. You made our dreams come true.
If a moment could be bigger than Stevie (which is debatable) it would be one of these two moments. To listen to Harry and his band perform in these two legendary locations gave me goosebumps. Abbey Road Studios in London and Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center. The best of the best have performed in these places. I shed a tear during both and I had my Mom with me during both. Having her be able to travel with us in her retirement has been an absolute joy…pun intended. Harry loves to make really bad jokes about my mother and her name being Joy. I’m sure that due to his stand up career during his shows you can all imagine just how weird my life is sometimes.
Thank you to everyone at Abbey Road, that helped film the documentaries for H’s album, and everyone at SNL for allowing me to hideout with my camera. Someday he and I are going to look back on these photos and wonder how this was our life. You’ve all made it special, so thank you for being part of it.
Alyssa and Cam welcomed their first little girl this year. Charlotte is the light of their lives and mine! To see my best friend, my sissa, become a mother has been incredible to witness. She’s a natural and this little girl is already breaking the hearts of every boy in town, including her Uncle Harry’s. What can I say? She loves me more! I hated being away for so much of Alyssa’s pregnancy and had even offered to come back home for the final month before Lotte came into the world, but Alyssa insisted I spend the time with Harry. I did manage to get back just in time to be there when Lotte was born. Watching one of my best friends as she created life was literally one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. Yes, I was in the delivery room with her. No, Cam was not. He passed out and hit his head. It’s a good thing I’d been Nate’s back up for birthing classes with Kim!
Alyssa, thank you for having my back since high school, for being my best friend in the universe and allowing me to spoil the shit out of your little girl. Having you with me in London has been amazing and I’m so glad I get to be around to watch Lotte grow up. Cam, thank you for taking care of these two beautiful girls. I’m glad you are here to protect them when I am gone. Charlotte Ann, my beautiful little girl, you are going to rule this world someday. Watching you grow up is going to be so much fun.
Watching my best friends go through pregnancy and childbirth was such a beautiful thing. Kim was literally glowing through her entire pregnancy. Nate will point out that she was often glowing with rage at him for getting her ‘knocked up with two boys’. But the moment those two boys screamed their way into the world she was in love. Getting the opportunity to photograph her during her pregnancy was an honor. And those Salisbury twins own my heart. Harry and I both miss all of the babies that are part of this crazy family we have so much when we are away from home for extended periods of time. I think they are all already used to FaceTime and think that anytime Aunt Annie and Uncle Harry come to visit that there will be a new toy, onesie or stuffy to give them. What can I say? Guilt from being away from home when your friends’ kids are growing up is real.
Kim, thank you for allowing me to take these photos. For not killing me when I stole some of your candy when you were pregnant and for letting me love on your boys as if they were mine. You have been so supportive as I’ve gone through a rough part of the road of life and being able to be part of these boys’ lives has made the road smooth out.
And now you can see why I am so in love with them! Look at those faces. Max got a little tired of dealing with me trying to take their photos and face planted into the bed. I’ve taken so many photos of these little guys in their short time on earth that by the time they are older and Kim and Nate are required to find old pictures for something they will probably have several million to choose from.
Max and Jack, Aunt A and Uncle H love you both so much. We can’t wait to spend the evening with your Mummy and Daddy tonight to snuggle and love on you while we welcome in the new year.
Speaking of adorable twins…my better half made a music video that involved children and puppies. One of those children was dressed as him. I feel like the entire day everyone kept commenting that she looked like she could be Harry’s child, which is sometimes hard for me to deal with, but on that day it wasn’t. She did look like she could be his and boy did her curls make me miss his! All of those kids were wonderful to work with and Harry had to take a few of the puppies out of my bag on the way home from set because I wanted to bring them all home. I love animals and can’t wait for a time in life where we are home enough to be able to have one. When we were home for an extended period of time at the beginning of the year and last year I worked with a local shelter to foster some kittens and let me tell you, watching Harry bottle feed a litter of baby kittens is one of the cutest things on the planet and is as close as we are going to get to midnight feedings.
Thank you to the cast and crew of Kiwi for bringing the weird sugar induced visions of my love to life. This was one of the strangest sets I’ve ever been on and I loved every minute of it.
Another one of Harry’s photos from this year. I even let him help pick a few of them for this blog, this was the one he insisted on being in here. This was me over our New Year’s vacation last year. We opted to spend the time somewhere warm with Harry’s Mum and Robin. It was a great way to spend time with the two of them and get them away from home for a while. It was truly one of the most wonderful vacations we’ve taken and I loved the chance to spend time with Harry’s family.
H, thank you for always making sure that there’s a photo of me and forcing me to get out from behind the camera. You are the best there is.
This photo is framed and displayed in a place of prominence in all of our living rooms. Harry is so lucky to have such wonderful parents, but beyond that he was lucky to have had Robin as a part of his life for so long. His sense of humor always had me laughing, often at Harry’s expense. His smile was infectious and the way that he waited inside the door for us to arrive and always engulfed me into the biggest hug is something I miss so much. Robin loved me like I was his own daughter and always made me feel like I was part of the family despite what he often referred to as the longest engagement the universe has ever seen. Last spring when Harry and I had gone home to visit I sat with Robin in the garden talking while Harry had gone to run errands with his Mum. I told Robin that I’d begun to think Harry and I should get married soon. That we didn’t need anything special, just a courthouse and a day and that I wanted Robin to pick it. I’ve honestly never even told Harry about this conversation, so babe you might want some Kleenex. Robin told me that he wasn’t going to let me decide to marry the boy just because he was sick. That Harry and I needed to live our lives by our rules and no one else’s. That life was too short to make plans for other people and that when the time was right and we were ready to be married that it would happen but not because of him. He also then told me that secretly he enjoyed watching Harry contort his face every time someone asked him if we’d set a date yet, he just awkwardly answers that we are happy and in love and we’ll send out a save the date when there’s one to save. You’d think after a three year engagement that question would stop, it hasn’t.
Anne, your strength during this time is inspiring. You are the rock that this entire family unit is built upon and we are beyond blessed to have you as our matriarch. You are an incredible woman who I count lucky to have in my life. Robin, we all miss you dearly, this holiday season has been dreadful without you there to pick on Harry with me. I promise you that I haven’t let this year go to his head, my gushing in this blog is not a great example of how I’ve behaved without you here. I have to be kind to him on occasion, you know that.
Lou modeling the 2017 treat people with kindness tour tee. The fact that my love has started to get people to focus on kindness makes my heart explode with pride. I see so many people in this world live life guarded because of the fear that the other people they encounter in their day have hearts filled with hate. If people start filling their heart with love and kindness and acting with that in mind the world will be a better place.
To my partner-in-crime on the road, Lou, having you with us to start and end this year of touring was a blessing we both are grateful for. You mean the world to us and we miss you when you aren’t there but we are so glad you’re able to be with Lux and your family. Thank you for teaching me the tricks to styling his hair so when he can’t figure out how to do it himself he doesn’t kill me when it falls on my shoulders.
Harry has incredible friends. Friends who have clearly lost their damn minds and let him take over a television show several times. There was the weeklong residency in Los Angeles, performing on the rooftop in London and then the last minute fill in a few weeks ago to help out as James welcomed the newest addition to the family. I appreciate that the crew of Late Late let me run around with my camera all week and take photos to document this part of Harry’s career.
To Ben, James and the entire crew at Late Late, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, thank you! You gave Harry a platform to be 100% himself, a stage to sing on, and a place where if the audience didn’t laugh there was a laugh track waiting to be added in post production.
There was this big adventure that happened, Harry became an actor. While the adventure itself took place in 2016 but the world got to see it this year. During the London premiere I took a few moments to allow Harry to walk the red carpet by himself and with Anne and snuck to the camera line where I could snap a few photos. He is so at ease on a red carpet. Chatting with journalists, signing autographs, taking selfies, and making sure that his Mum and I don’t feel like he’s left us alone. While I was occasionally allowed around set to watch what he was doing and was always there to listen to him decompress from the day getting to see him on screen as Alex in Dunkirk was such a mind blowing experience for me. His talent was incredible. The way he looked in that uniform nearly killed me. Though I’m still not 100% sure I can handle the different accent. Sometimes to throw me off if I am acting distracted he will start to slide back into Alex’s accent.
A HUGE thank you to Chris, Emma, the cast and crew of Dunkirk. Thank you for believing in Harry and allowing him the chance to take this adventure. Your film is magnificent and I’m looking forward to the next time we all get to be together because I miss each of you dearly.
So Nate is kind of a big deal. He will tell everyone that whether they already know this or not. But this year he actually became a big deal. He closed a record setting case last spring and was featured in several publications because the ‘hot lawyer’ became a thing. When asked for photos Nate refused to work with anyone other than me so I was given the opportunity to have my work published by several national publications, mostly geared towards lawyers, but some were tabloids talking about the ‘hot lawyer’ who was working his butt off to help people. I am so proud of Nate and how hard he has fought to turn his legal career into something that meant more to him.
Nate, thank you for being you. One of the best people I know, someone who supports me (and Harry) endlessly, and for being one of the best friends I could ask for. I still don’t always understand what you’re saying but I love you anyway. Thank you for loving Kim and those boys the way you do. Thank you for being a best mate to Harry and standing up for him during those moments where I’m being utterly ridiculous and a horrendous bitch, your words not mine.
This year was clearly the year of my friends kicking absolute ass. The crew at O’Brien’s was featured in a local publication and I was given the opportunity to photograph them. My friends are gorgeous and the recognition they received this year for the things that O’Brien’s is doing to change their game is well deserved. Niki was awarded a few different awards for the menu she has put together and is getting a TON of attention for her amazing food. With Cam and Alyssa behind the bar and Patrick and Frankie running the entire place it’s doing amazing things. And this year they were also the greatest friends I could’ve asked for. From hosting a private album release party for Harry to every birthday party of our little crazy family, O’Brien’s continues to be our home.
To all of you, your friendship means the world to me. Thank you for being there through both good and bad and always reminding not to do that shot of Jameson. I love you all and can’t wait for tomorrow when we all get to enjoy time in the bar together in our sweatpants!
Watching this man get on stage and perform every night is incredible. I am so proud of how hard he works and how determined he is to be himself and be the best that he can be. From night one of the tour in San Fran to Radio City and every date around the world he gave 100% every night. His devotion to his craft is inspiring. I can’t wait for the next tour to start so I can see him back on stage again every night, doing what he loves.
I got to see two of my favorite guys perform on the same night at the iconic Hollywood Bowl. Getting the chance to photograph Niall as a solo artist and spend time with he and Lyla for a few hours in the midst of all of this crazy was so wonderful. It made me miss having them on the road with me every day. And seeing the embrace that the boys had as Harry walked off of the stage brought a tear to my eye. They are still so close despite this massive change in their lives. True friendship is the best kind to have.
And since I know he’s reading this I’m going to speak directly to my love for a little bit. Hope you all don’t mind.
Harry, thank you for making the last 365 days the best they could’ve been. Despite us experiencing an immense amount of heartbreak this year you moved through life with a smile on your face and reminded me constantly to have a smile on mine as well. You’ve supported me in my dreams by doing everything from being my photographer to being my editor. You’ve held my hand and stood beside me every day of the last year and I don’t even know how to explain how lucky that makes me feel. To be the woman you’ve chosen to be your partner in life is a gift I am still not sure I deserve. I love you with all of my heart and will love you forever. Thank you for being you and for loving me and encouraging me to be me.
Thank you to each and everyone of you who reads this blog. Your support through the last year has not gone unnoticed. You mean the world to me. I can’t wait for the adventures that 2018 will bring and for the opportunity to share them with you.
Peace and Love, Annie
Oh and one final selfie of the year before we head out to the Salisbury residence to ring in the New Year with the people we love.
I put the iPad back down on the kitchen counter and walked up the stairs to the office. I found Annie sitting at her desk, her back to the door as she scheduled the various posts for this blog to get shared out through her social media over the next few days. I’d made her promise that as soon as this went up she wasn’t working until at least January 3rd. We needed some alone time and a chance to also be with friends. It truly had been a wonderful, yet rocky, year. She’d stood by my side through it all. The fear of an album that wasn’t what the world expected from me, showing a new side of me with my acting, taking the stage alone for the first time, everything we’d gone through with her health, and the hardest part of all, losing my stepfather. It didn’t matter the punch life through at us she bobbed and weaved like an expert fighter.
“Bravo, Sugar.” She spun in the chair to look at me and smiled as she realized the look on my face was a good one.
“You liked it?” I pulled her out of the chair and sat down before pulling her onto my lap so I could hold her as she did the last bit of work. I kissed her shoulder before resting my head on her back.
“I loved it. The photos that you chose were incredible and seeing the way you look at the world is always something I enjoy. You made me laugh, you made me cry and you made me so excited for the adventures we are going to have next year.”
“It’s going to be an amazing year. We are going to see the world together.”
“Having you with me makes it all better.”
“It makes not sleeping in my own bed every night worth it.” She clicked away on the keyboard. “So are you sad we aren’t going out tonight?” With three kids under one in this group plus all of Frankie and Lizzy’s kids we had all decided staying in was the perfect idea. Everyone was bringing food to Kim and Nate’s for a night of games, music, and perhaps a quieter New Year’s Eve celebration. Though knowing the group of adults that would be there, quiet didn’t seem like an accurate description.
“I’m not sad. I’m excited about a night with our friends and all of the kids. As long as we are spending the evening together it will be perfect.” She turned a bit so she could kiss me.
“You are perfect.”
“I’m not but thank you,” I replied. “Are you almost ready to leave?”
“Yeah, I just need to grab my purse from upstairs. Oh and I got party supplies that are in here.” She gestured to a few tote bags sitting on the sofa in her office.
“I’ll grab those, you go get your purse.” I kissed her one more time before she stood up and hurried up the stairs. I grabbed the bags and saw that they had goofy glasses, streamers and sparklers loaded inside. If there was one thing this woman of mine loved, it was an excuse to give party favors to her friends and take pictures. I headed downstairs and started to get all of the food we’d made for tonight ready to load into the car.
It was a few moments later that Annie came into the kitchen, she looked like a knock-out today. The girls had all decided that even though we were staying in tonight that we needed to have festive attire, or at least they were trying to convince us of that. I put on jeans and a comfy jumper knowing that it was going to be a cold night. Annie had on gold sequin leggings, a black tee that hung off her shoulders and had some metallic saying about champagne on it and some fuzzy furry or feathery jacket. She had heels on but I’d caught ridiculously sparkly slippers in the bag of stuff she was taking to the Salisbury’s house.
“You look cute,” I said as I slid my arms around her and snuggled my face into her neck.
“You look cozy in your jumper. Though I’m admittedly disappointed that you didn’t go for sequin bowtie I left upstairs.”
“Oh I thought that was for later when we get home.”
“It wasn’t but I definitely like the way you think.”
“And I like the way your bum looks in these pants.”
“Oh do you?” she asked as she turned around. I squeezed her butt a little making her giggle. “Thank you for this.”
“This life. Letting me decide that we get to be home in England for New Year’s. I know that LA and the party scene call you during times like this but being here with our little handpicked family and all of the babies, it’s just what I wanted.”
“I know it is. And it’s definitely the way we should celebrate this year. Now let’s get everything loaded in the car and head out.”
“Alright.” We put everything in and Annie hopped into the driver’s seat and we took off for Nate and Kim’s. We pulled in at the same time that Cam and Alyssa did. I jumped down and headed over to give Alyssa a hug.
“Happy New Year,” I said as I kissed her cheek.
“Happy New Year to you too, Harry,” she replied. I opened the back door and ducked in to see Charlotte bundled up tightly.
“How is my favorite little girl?” I asked as she started to giggle. “I’ll take that as ‘wonderful and so happy to see you Uncle Harry.’” I scooped her up and kissed the top of her head. Alyssa looked like she was ready to take her. “I’ve got her, don’t worry about it. I haven’t seen her in a good 36 hours.”
“Alright, Uncle Harry. You can have the first round of snuggle time.”
“Thank you,” I replied. She walked over to Annie to give her a hug. Cam, Alyssa and Annie grabbed everything out of the car as we headed inside.
“Hello!” Kim yelled as I opened the door. She appeared in the entryway and started laughing. “How is it that you’re the one walking in with the baby?”
“I kidnapped her from the backseat. She sent me a text on the way over here saying she was excited to see me and no one else.” Kim started to laugh before leaning in to give me a hug.
“The boys might get jealous if Lotte gets all of the love. They missed their Uncle Harry when they had to go visit Nana and Papa for the week.”
“I missed them too. I think I can manage all three of them.”
“I’m sure you can,” Kim said as she laughed even harder. Everyone else came through the door with the bags of stuff they all had.
“Thanks for all of your help, Dimples,” Annie groaned.
“No problem, Sugar. I knew that the hardest thing to carry was going to be Charlotte so I bit the bullet for the team.”
“I’m gonna get no time with my kid tonight, am I?” Cam asked.
“Probably not,” I replied. “She loves me most.” And as if I’d timed it perfectly, Charlotte squealed with delight and snuggled into me.
“She definitely does,” Cam added. I headed into the living room where I found Nate on the floor with both of the boys.
“Happy New Year, man,” I said as I walked towards him. He stood up and pulled me into a hug.
“Happy New Year to you too, buddy. Thanks for coming tonight.”
“Nowhere else in the world we’d rather be tonight than here with all of you,” I said.
“I doubt that you’re telling the truth but I’ll take it.” It didn’t take long for Annie’s bag of tricks to get unloaded. She had a photo booth set up, enough streamers to decorate for every kid in this group’s birthday, and noisemakers galore. By the time Frankie and Lizzy strolled in with their kids and Niki arrived with Tom everything was set up. It was going to be the perfect evening for our little family to spend together. Eventually I was forced into letting Lotte spend time with other people at the party which was okay because it meant I got to eat and roam around without worry about the tiny girl in my arms. We all sat down to eat dinner together and Nate stood to give a toast. “Thank you to each of you for choosing to spend your New Year’s Eve here with us.”
“Nowhere else we’d rather be,” Annie said as she poured champagne into both her glass and mine.
“I know that’s a lie,” Nate continued through a bit of laughter. “We could all be making tips at the bar, having a wild night out, or celebrating in some exotic locale somewhere. Yet, we’ve all decided here is where we want to be. It’s been quite an exciting year. Three new little ones to this group.”
“Sorry we are late,” came an Irish accent from the front door. I leaned back in my chair to see Niall helping Lyla out of her jacket.
“What are you two doing here?” Lizzy asked standing up to hug her sister. “You’re supposed to be in Los Angeles or something.”
“We decided last minute that this was where we wanted to be,” Lyla said as she hugged her sister tightly.
“Literally last minute. Our flight landed about two hours ago. Enough time to get home, shower, and throw something together to bring. I hope you don’t mind that we are here,” Niall added.
“Not at all, mate,” Nate replied as he hugged him. “We are glad you both chose to be here.”
“Nowhere else in the world we belonged,” Niall said with a giant smile spreading across his face. Everyone from the table stood to hug our last minute arrivals and make room for them at the giant table in Kim and Nate’s dining room.
“Now where was I,” Nate started. “Oh right, we added three new little ones to this family. We are in the midst of the final stages of planning the biggest wedding Ireland will ever see. We’ve got a couple of chart topping artists at the table. Two ladies who are embarking on a new adventure with a lifestyle brand. A bonafide writer and photographer. The staff from the greatest bar Camden has ever seen. But what makes this special is that we are all here together. Our little functionally dysfunctional family is here to celebrate the end of a year together and start the next. While we’ve had a lot of wonderful things happen we’ve also been through a lot of hard times this year.”
Nate looked at Annie and I as she rested her head on shoulder. I kissed the top of her head. I squeezed her tightly. This group had gotten us through the greatest and hardest year we’d ever seen together. While there were three new little ones in this group there was one that was missing and always would be. There would never be a little version of Annie or myself present at these functions. We started the year off thinking that we would be starting a family only to find out that we weren’t going to get that chance, now or ever. It was a hard few months of tests and tears. But we came through it as a stronger couple.
It wasn’t just that Nate was talking about though. Losing my stepfather had been hard on this entire group. My Mum and Robin had become an important part of this little family over the years. And since losing Robin this group had become an important part of my actual family. Each of them were there for me, my sister, Annie and my mother. Whether it was calling Mum to check on her or the trip that the girls planned for my Mum’s birthday where they all flew to Los Angeles for a week to spend time with Gemma, Mum and all of her closest friends. They were able to see me play at the Hollywood Bowl and drink mimosas all around Malibu for a week. With Annie and I on the road the girls stepped up. They’d taken trips up to visit my Mum and entertained her while Gemma worked during her trips to London. Without even consulting us they all showed up for Robin’s funeral, which was something neither of us expected. It made me realize just how important each of them were to my life.
“We’ve been there for each other throughout the hard times because that’s what friends do. I am so grateful to have each of you in my life and all of you together in my home right now. Cheers to a wonderful year ahead.” We all raised our glasses to toast the year ahead of us. Annie tilted her head towards mine to kiss me.
“I love you,” she said softly.
“And I love you.” After dinner I found Niall and Nate both sitting on the back deck smoking cigars together. “Niall, you little shit. How did I not know you were going to be here?”
“I am full of surprises. We have been in Ireland with my family since Christmas and just decided this would be more fun than flying to Los Angeles and being in crowded parties while we were tired. We were supposed to fly out to LA two days ago, changed our plans and hopped a flight here. The only people that knew were Lyla’s parents.”
“Why is that?” Nate asked.
“We are all going to get together for dinner tomorrow night,” Niall replied. “She missed Christmas at home with her family to be in Ireland with mine. So her Mum is leaving the tree up one extra day so we can have a family dinner tomorrow night. Her oldest sister is down for the holidays while her kids are on break so it made the most sense to come here.”
“That sounds like fun. I felt a little bad that Annie and I are here instead of back home. But Gemma and her boyfriend headed up there this weekend to spend time with Mum and I think Mum’s tired of me following her around the house. We spent the last two weeks at home.”
“I’m sure Anne enjoyed having you both there. She doing okay?”
“She’s doing as well as can be expected. It was a tough Christmas but we made it through. Although as soon as she reads Annie’s year end blog I’m sure I’ll get another teary phone call.”
“I read that earlier,” Nate said. “She did great. Captured our year perfectly.”
“In more ways than one,” Niall added.
“That she did.” The night continued on with drinks, games and Annie attached to her camera. Finally as the clock got close to midnight we all bundled up and went outside. It was time for her sparkler countdown to the New Year. Each of the adults and the older kids were given sparklers and just in time for midnight lit them off of a candle she’d brought along.
“Ten!” Nate yelled.
“Nine, eight,” the rest of the group joined in. “Seven, six, five, four.” I pulled Annie into my arms and made her drop the camers. “Three, two, one. HAPPY NEW YEAR!” Everyone was shouting and dancing. I pulled Annie into a deep kiss.
“Happy New Year, Sugar.”
“Happy New Year, Dimples.”
bookshopbirdie: Happy New Year’s from my corner of the world to yours!
NotesAHH!! I can’t even explain how excited I am for everyone to get a chance to read this. I am so happy to be writing something that is present day.
I hope you enjoyed a 2017 recap for our friends in London Calling. It was a rollercoaster of a year for them but just like friends do, they stuck through it together. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this.
I also want to thank each and every one of you who reads what I write. I tallyed it up and I wrote (and published nearly all of it) 295,888 words in 2017. That’s just between these two series. That doesn’t include my writing for work or blogging for fun. Sticking by me through good, bad, and horrific writers block moments has been something that I appreciate. You all mean the world to me even though I don’t know each of you individually.
My goal for 2018: Pass 300,000! I’m so close and a bit pissed that I’m not there. So I hope you’re all willing to stick with me for whatever comes next.
Thank you again for loving the characters I create and being such an amazing support system.
Cheers to 2018!