Everyone’s doing those End Of The Year posts, and I really, really want to be different. I completely avoided writing such a post last year, just because I didn’t want to follow the crowd.
But that was then. And every time I look at how my life was at the start of this year compared to how it is now, I feel a bit dazed and confused, to the extent where you’ll have to excuse me for writing the same kind of post as everyone else, here. I need to recap and sum it up for my own sake as much as for the benefit of readers who joined me halfway through this year and have no idea how Things Used To Be.
Remember? Back in January? There I was, in a generally bad mood most of the time, living in an albeit quite nice rented house in a not-so-nice housing estate in Ballymena. The Sister had just moved in with me, giving me someone to complain with on a daily basis after another rubbishy day, at a time when the most exciting thing in our lives was a new musical doorbell.
Then came February, when work was becoming a serious headache and I allowed an online Scrabulous tournament to briefly take over my life. Then something surprising happened: I was nominated and shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category at the Irish Blog Awards, held in Dublin at the start of March. I didn’t win, but I got to meet some great people, and it brought a tiny measure of excitement into my life. As did the actual journey to Dublin, but for different reasons.
Anyway, it was becoming obvious to me that something had to change. I was bored. And so, in April, having experienced everything going wrong in terms of work, relationships, and pretty much everything that was important to me in all areas of my life, I made the decision to get out. That month was a bittersweet mixture of funfilled daytrips and many coffees with friends as I said my goodbyes and put in a spectacular amount of packing-related procrastination.
And so it was that in May, and in a state of nerves, I left my familiar old life behind me and set off on my adventure, having chosen Estonia as my first destination – and what a great time I had there throughout May and June! I had my first sauna, took a daytrip to Finland, went skinny-dipping in the Baltic Sea…
Then, for the month of July, I moved to France, where I lived in the baking heat of Lyon and immersed myself in the wonderful Frenchness of it all. Disaster struck when I was pickpocketed on the subway, leaving me stranded and penniless in an unfamiliar area – but I was soon back on my feet again, thanks to the Western Union and The Parents!
After a dream trip to Paris to attend a book reading by Petite Anglaise and have a lovely meal with Croquecamille and her hubby, I moved on to Belgium for August, and I still cannot believe my luck at the housesitting assignment I landed there. A month in a beautiful house with my own private swimming pool, surrounded by acres of gorgeous countryside and forests… for free?! Well done, me. I also ate waffles in Brussels and watched the sun set over the Waterloo battlefield.
Next stop: The Netherlands. September was a crazy month, perhaps the busiest I’ve ever had, and a huge blur of trains, planes, buses, trams, stations and hostels. I made new friends in Rotterdam, fell in with a bad crowd in Amsterdam, and had great fun at the beach hostel in Noordwijk. By the time I got to Utrecht I was too exhausted to do anything! So off I went to Lake Balaton in Hungary for a blissful couple of days spent swimming and sunbathing, having recovered from the scariest ordeal of my travels thus far, and then had a great time seeing my history lessons come to life in Budapest. Then it all becomes a bit hazy. I was in Vienna at one point, and I vaguely remember some language difficulties in Slovakia before ending up in Sweden, which I loved (apart from the food poisoning).
Much as I enjoyed my crazy summer, it was good to get back to Tallinn and I decided to settle down for a while. October was spent in recovery, and I began learning Estonian, exploring the city, and doing some work to make up for the dent in my finances after all the travelling around. In November, I moved into a new apartment in the city centre, started a new business (of the Silly Hat variety), and realised that it’s going to be a very cold winter. December has been spent learning Estonian Christmas songs, drinking Christmas Tea at the Christmas Market, and generally loving the Christmassyness of Tallinn Old Town.
What a year. Certainly nothing like any year I’ve ever had before! It’s a shame to be finishing it in the somewhat pathetic condition that I’m currently in, sniffling and coughing and groaning, but I am determined to go out and see the New Year celebrations tonight (fireworks from an old castle lookout platform? Yay!) if it kills me. And theres a fair chance it might, to be honest. But it’s been a year of risks and stumbling into the unknown, so it seems fitting to put on my heavy coat and Silly Hat and go out regardless of my imminent lung explosion. See? I’m made of tougher stuff now. I am brave and fearless.
Bring on 2009. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year? I certainly don’t – and that’s the best part of all!
Happy New Year to you, readers.