We closed 2012 last year on the solstice by releasing several dozen paper lanterns into the Hudson River. We had so much to commemorate at that year. So many things came to an end. That also means it set up 2013 to be a year of rebirth.
And rebirth it has been. 2013 has been a very full year, full of new experiences, sorrow and great learning.
At the end of January, I left my home of ten years, New York’s Hudson Valley, to move for my job to London. I felt a deep sorrow upon leaving. It wasn’t angsty or troubled; I did feel called to leave after all. It was more like the purest mirror image of all the love I had for the Hudson Valley.
London was full of familiar things from my childhood (like relatives and tube announcements) yet also plenty of surprises. There was more snow in the UK than in the states, but nowhere to ski. I had more fish pie and tea in my first week here than I’d had in my whole life.
In March and April, work sent me back to New York for a few weeks for a conference. It was strange and overwhelming to be back amongst the leafless boughs and calm, wide waters of the river. I cried when I saw the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson. We took some nice hikes that trip. It was hard going back, but somehow, even through the relief of being somewhere familiar and homey, the Hudson Valley didn’t feel like the right place to be anymore. When I returned to the UK, I caught myself saying, “I’m glad to be home,” and was surprised I thought of London as home already.
Upon return, I started getting really committed to living in London. I started taking advantage of the ease with which you can travel around Europe from London by taking myself off on my first real solo journey to Ireland. I spent the weekend on Achill Island. The dramatic landscape, misty, moss-covered rocks, and gregarious people totally won my heart. I’ll never forget my weekend as the honorary guest at a stag do full of Irish doctors. When I got back, I spent my first bank holiday weekend at my cousin’s seaside cottage in Devon and christened my new wet suit (yes, I peed in it).
Those first few trips sparked a travel fire within, and I ended up taking more than 20 trips this year to 7 countries. That’s more traveling in one year than I’ve done in my whole life. Seeing the world has been revelatory. Every place has its own quirks that add up to enormous differences. And yet, each new place also seems surprisingly the same as the last, and the people filling them full of the same triumphs and failures as a more familiar set.
In addition to traveling, living in London has provided me with the opportunity to get involved with more serious sailors than in New York. I started sailing at the Queen Mary Sailing Club in the RS400 fleet and even did a couple of races in keel boats in the Solent. I even got the wonderful opportunity to sail a “big boat” in the Round the Island Race. It was exciting to be a part of a truly world-renowned sailing event and has left me hungry for more.
I’ve done a lot of looking outside of the city to enjoy my life, but I’ve also learned ways I love being in the pulse of a crowded metropolis, like going to live music shows. I’ve begun exploring music and going to shows in a way that most people discover when they are 15. I feel ridiculous for being such a late bloomer on this front, but I’m so glad my “music phase” has arrived!
I also have done a lot of great drawings and a few linocut prints. I started making DIY tutorials, and hand-drawn illustrations on tote bags (that you can buy). I tromped all around London, exploring the city, seeing great live music, and sailing. And I got promoted at my job!
I’ve decided to stay in London for another year or two and I’m really excited thinking about all the things I could accomplish while I’m here, but that’s another post entirely!
I have never done an “end of year” summary for a Christmas newsletter or anything like that. But I am loving writing this post and feeling like I should start making this an annual thing. It’s really changing my perspective. I had been thinking about this year as a pretty sad one; there was a lot of change that left me feeling upended and rootless. Going through the year has reminded me of all the good work I’ve done. It feels great to have done so much traveling and good creative work.
Gratitude is the key to happiness. Ain’t it so? I am so thankful for all my opportunities, even the hard ones. I can feel all of this sprouting very good things within me and for my future.
How was your 2013? What are you thankful for that happened this year?