There is a certain pleasure in trudging in the cold to German lessons after a long, long day. Today the streets are glossy from melted snow, and the hodgepodge of city lights, now back to their unadorned selves in the aftermath of Christmas and New Year’s, shimmer and stir in the puddles. One is reminded of looking out through a rainy car windscreen. There is a kind of humming contentment, omnipresent and all-encompassing, derived from just looking at the mundane – a maudlin appreciation for life that weaves like a silver thread from passerby to passerby, sludgy footprint to sludgy footprint, forming a tranquil tapestry of a city quieting down under the evening sky.

Some months ago, on the brink of the move, I wondered if I would genuinely be happy hieing off to a new place, completely alone among new people whose language I could not speak nor understand. I feared  loneliness would be like a cold…you think you can bear it but when it hits you, it’s suffocating.

But 7 months into my year here not only have I found what a joy it can be to lose myself in a sea of unfamiliar faces and views and words, but that a large part of the joy is in the struggle to become a stronger and more resilient person for it. Learning to be alone is a wonderful privilege. Even if you have to fall down and acquire a scar or two on the way…and I literally mean while running to the bus stop after singing lessons with a plastic bag of avocado, clementines and spring onion that eventually found themselves rolling merrily on the pavement.

The last time I felt compelled to put on record my feelings about the year gone by was 2012. 2016-2017 has been and will be worth remembering to say the least…two years of finishing things and big leaps and discovery of self, people and place. A writing workshop. A policy paper and a publication. Special farewells. A move. Snow shovelling. Hikes and walks. Middlemarch. Losing and finding people. Representing, presenting in metaphorical suits. New language. A run (5 km but hey expectations). Fitting life into two suitcases. (Still) bad time management. Finding adult shoes, buying kid-sized Heat Tech gloves. Jumping on trains. Birthday. Solitude and quiet company. London and family. Singing lessons. Snow on my nose. Gospel gig. 27 hour flights. Lots of postcards. The list will only on in the next 5 months at least.

Oh, to be alive, to be here, to be able to relish this freedom to simply be.

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