Here's a fun fact: I've now lived and worked in London for over a year. And to be honest I'm not sure if it feels like forever, or no time at all.
I spent Christmas in North Wales with my parents and my brother, and forfeited my youthful right to a New Years blowout to spend the last night of the year standing in the cold and rain on the Thames with my family for 8 hours - an ordeal made considerably less harrowing by a 6 hour game of What Would You Rather (a bionic arm, or a bionic leg?), and the presence of a hilarious Indian-English family who not only offered me free accommodation in the Midlands, but who also had a constant supply of wine and liquor they were more than happy to share.
Naturally spending some quality time with my family for the first time all year was incredible, the only real downfall being their inevitable departure. Because of how long it had been since I'd seen anyone from Australia (since Laura's mid-year visit, for those of you playing at home) I'd pretty much adopted an "out of sight, out of mind" approach to my life back home. Of course I miss my friends and family, but not with the kind of visceral sadness that pervaded my first month or two. But after six weeks of being able to call my mum to ask her stupid questions and getting Gary's equally stupid replies, and three weeks of forcing Luke to sleep on the floor, not having them around suddenly felt considerably harder than it had at the end of November. Not to mention the day after my folks flew out I met up with Lisa, a friend of mine from high school. All of which was great at the time, but really brought home once again the less glamorous realities of living half a world away from the majority of the people I know.
But! On the other hand, I didn't spend the first week of this year crying and feeling sorry for myself, primarily because last year turned out to be even more than I wanted it to be. I've missed plenty back home: my cousin's wedding, my friend's wedding, births and deaths and countless birthdays and parties and dramas. But I've also found new friends, and gone to new places, and seen and done things that hitherto had been entirely impossible.
Seeing Lisa also made me realise I really don't want to go home (and I mean that in the best possible way). I had been wondering if I was going to be away too long; if when I got back my life trajectory would be too out of sync with my friends for me to fit in anymore. Up until now my friends and I had, mostly by necessity, been on basically the same life path: school, then uni, then job. So even though I didn't live in the same place as my school friends, and hadn't come from the same place as my uni friends, we were, essentially, all in the same place life-wise. But when I opted out of the "real job" option it threw my timeline out. Happily, seeing Lisa made me realise that in two years my friends will still be pretty much the same people as they were when I left, and that if some of those friendships don't continue it wont be because of a few extra months' absence here or there.
Besides which, in the same way marking the change of year on an arbitrary calendar date has no real significance beyond what you choose to give it, a generally accepted "life plan" is only as acceptable as you want it to be. And while I know that eventually I will want to start my career, and possibly at some point in the distant future marry and/or have children, right now what I want is mostly just more. More adventure, more excitement, more new things. And I am exceedingly happy in the knowledge that at any moment I can decide I've had enough of London, or my job(s), or my flat and just up sticks, without having to consider the repercussions my decision might have for anyone else. Which is not to say the relationships I've built here - with my friends or host family or employers - are meaningless or essentially transient. It's just that they were built in the knowledge that they would have to be flexible. So while for now I'm quite happy with my new flat and new job and not-so-new city, I'm also impatient for the year to really begin. No matter what you think of fireworks and resolutions, there's no denying the promise that comes with a new year. And I have big plans for this one.