Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I have never been a fan of New Years Eve. You dress up, you go out, you kiss (or don't) at midnight, and eventually you go home with a vague feeling of disappointment. Because January 1st is just another day. It's nice to think that we can use an arbitrary date to wipe our slate clean, gather our resolve and set aside our vices. This year, we all think, this year will be the year I loose weight/get my dream job/quit smoking/become a better, more successful person. But in reality when you wake up, hungover and blurry on New Years Day, you are the same person you were 12 hours ago. There has been no great cosmic shift. All those resolutions will fall by the wayside unless you work for them, and most of the time we find more important or more interesting things to do than an after-work beginners course in Mandarin.

The most important New Years Eve of my life happened over 40-odd hours two years ago tomorrow. It was not particularly fun; in fact it was mostly spent on a succession of airplanes before ending with me going to bed in a strangers house after one glass of champagne and some awkward small talk. But when I woke up  on New Years Day, for once everything was different. I did have a clean slate. I knew nobody. I was finally living in a city that I'd had a long distance love affair with my whole life, and I could be whoever I liked.

Moving overseas was everything I hoped for, and then some. And especially this past year I've changed a lot. I'm braver and less naive; I've made bad life choices and excellent friends; traveled and seen new things and met people I love; kept secrets - both my own and others' - and occasionally, sometimes regrettably, not kept them. It's been amazing, but now, two years on, I feel like I'm standing with a fistful of loose ends and no real idea of how to tie them off before running away and starting afresh. Big, heartfelt declarations are all well and good in theory, but for those of us who don't live in a sit-com telling people what you really think days before you disappear into the big wide world is inconvenient at best, and potentially stupid and damaging.

I have no idea what's going to happen in 2013. Maybe I'll have some great, life-changing experience that eclipses everything I've ever been through. More likely I'll do some travelling and have a lot of fun before returning to Australia to begin living up to people's expectations of me. Good days and bad days, but mostly just regular days. And I'll grow and change and miss my life here and wonder what my friends are doing, and probably wonder if I should have made some big declaration. I'll probably move again, or at least make plans to move again. I'll play with the idea of coming back to London. I'll end the year with new, different loose ends. I will resolve absolutely nothing; most things will resolve themselves in time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Final Countdown

So I booked my ticket. 1 way, London to Budapest, Tuesday 15th January 2013. And it's not really ok with me.

Probably I should have booked it months ago, when leaving London was a distant inevitability and not a looming reality. And honestly I've been trying to get here for weeks. But because I so desperately don't want to go, every time I went to check out prices (which, happily, haven't gone up at all. Hello silver lining.) I just couldn't bring myself to actually purchase the ticket. Until Monday, when I basically decided that I need to stop seeing leaving London as a bad thing, sat down with my computer and finally fucking did it, with the mentality of somebody ripping off a band-aid. Then had a bit of a mini emotional breakdown. I freaked out, I cried, I spent a full two minutes sitting in front of the mirror repeating the phrase "I can deal with this" at my reflection. And then I rang Luke and told him to meet me at the pub, where I drank an amount of alcohol not usually considered acceptable for a Monday night in a failed attempt to forget that I am now the owner of 1 ticket and 1 20kg baggage allowance and 4 short weeks left of life as I know it.

Yeah, ok. I might be overreacting slightly. But my love of hyperbole aside, leaving London might actually be the hardest thing I have ever done.

Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of things I'm looking forward to about getting back to Australia, not least seeing the friends and family I've uniformly neglected for the past 2 years (sorry guys). But I can't shake the feeling that living in Australia again will turn out to be one of those things that is less than the sum of it's parts. I mean, the actual travel bit will be amazing. Hungary, Poland, Finland; Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan. I don't really know where I'll go, or when, or how. The point is there are so many places I could go, and I want to go. And I'm bored of London, I really am. Not because I don't love it, but because I feel like I've stagnated. Also I should probably get a real job. Having fucked about since I finished my degree has left me with a lot of great stories but pretty much no job prospects. The thing that worries me is the end point. Two years isn't that long in the scheme of things, but then again a lot can happen in two years. I'm not sure what scares me more: going home to find everything has changed, or going home to find nothing has.

Everything will be fine, really. I'm just...sad. When I left Australia I felt safe that I could go back and not have lost much. London is different. Even if I come back after a year, I don't know if I'd still have anything I have now. People change and move on, and my roots here are shallow. I can spend the next month going out and getting drunk and telling the people here I love them (which I do) and that I'll come back (which I will) and that I'll see them again (which I...might). But who knows? I feel like this is it. When I  leave, I lose everything.

On Tuesday morning I emerged feeling shell-shocked and preemptively hating everyone whose Christmas presents I would have to wrap that day (I have to say, being a Christmas orphan makes working in retail in December a decidedly bittersweet experience), and ran into my landlady. She took one look at me, sat me down and reminded me that I have no responsibility for anyone but myself, that this will probably be one of the best experiences of my life, and that I really have no idea what's around the corner. Or, as she put it, "You might walk down the street in Budapest and meet a millionaire, and then you'd never have to go back to Australia."
I can only hope.