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Today it is the 21st of January, 2011. This is stating the obvious – but what, let me ask, is the significance?

Not much, in the greater scheme of things. But for Rob and me, today it is exactly one month since were married. A whole month! It feels like six months, or a year – so much seems to have happened, and we seem already so settled and confirmed as a married pair. The early incredulity, the jokey questioning – ‘are we really married? what about the 14-day return policy?’ – has given way to more quotidian concerns, and to future plans. Plans based firmly, need I add, on our wedded state and our shared existence. Tonight, we have promised ourselves, we shall break open a bottle of Pongrancz, our favourite South African bubbly, to celebrate.

One year and one week ago today, on the 14th January 2010, I published my first blog. ‘Life begins at 56’ I opined, and as evidence I spoke of the many and varied transitions that, I anticipated, still lay ahead. There was the Emmarentia house to be renovated; my future at the NBI, or outside it, to be finally decided; what were Rob and I to do (was marriage on the agenda or not?) and where should we do it (Jo’burg, Toronto?); a novel to be created; a journey without maps to be ventured upon.

This may be a good time to take stock. Where are we now? A year later, and the Emmarentia house has been done up just enough to be sold, at just the right time in the market, the money banked and a small sufficiency transferred to Canada. I have been on my own now, as Glen Fisher Consulting, since the beginning of May – and am thriving on the independence, the feeling of being fully alive and being my own man, that seems to come when one steps out from under the institutional shadow. My novel is approaching 30,000 words and feels, dare I say it, authentic and real, at least to this unbiased reader. Rob’s residence visa has been approved, and needs only (touch wood) to be delivered (the journey from Home Affairs, Pretoria to Hyde Park, Johannesburg, being no less of an undertaking, I suspect, than Cape to Cairo). My Canadian permanent residence application remains in process, but we remain hopeful – hopeful that by mid-year, at any rate, it will have been approved.

And, of course (as if you haven’t heard enough about this already; as if you aren’t heartily sick of all this banging-on about other people’s happiness) Rob and I have made the call, done the deed, and tied the proverbial knot.

Quite a good innings, I think, all things considered, in 2010.

With a wedding now firmly under our belt it is time for my wife and for me to look ahead, to the unmapped territory that still lies before us. Rob has begun to look in earnest for work in South Africa, and I have been using the early January lull to get the word out, that man must eat and work is required. We have begun to think about Canada – when should we go, how long should we stay, how should we factor in the needs of our families and the realities of making a living? The current thinking, which will change ten times before we come to any sort of a conclusion and which will, in any event, be subject to abrupt review should circumstances change, or opportunity knock, is to head out to Canada around the middle of this year, with the general idea of staying for a year or 18 months before (most likely) coming back for a South African stint.

My mother’s health (and the prospect of shipping her over for a visit to Canada) and my children’s situations are all factors to consider. But I have a deep desire to take three or four months out, later this year, to focus on completing the first draft of my novel; to review and revise it and then – and then, to take my courage in both hands, and try to find myself a publisher. All my life I have wanted to write, to turn myself into a writer: and this is the point in my life, I feel it in my bones, I know it in the back of my skull, where I must stake all on making the dream real.

A porch in Toronto seems like a fine place to write.

Of course, I shall try to earn a few pennies on the side; of course, I will be looking to line up some (to coin a phrase) ‘decent work’ here and in Canada to carry me beyond the writing sabbatical: but – and I can feel my heart beat quicker as I write this, feel the adrenalin kick in – I want, I feel I must, this once at least, give myself this chance, and complete the bloody novel!

Looking back, over the past year, and over the past five years, I have not a particle of doubt in my mind, that the decision to move forward, to make a new life for myself, was the right decision. If ‘Life Begins at 56’ was a mid-life manifesto, here, perhaps, is a manifesto for the coming decade:

The road to the future lies through the future. Not, decidedly, through the past.

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