Jan 1, 2011

One year, two lives

How I feel today :)
Last year I wrote about jumping into 2010 - little did I know how much jumping I would end up doing. Today on this first day of 2011, I feel compelled to take pause and look back at all the changes, storms, joys, disappointments and adventures 2010 has brought.

Essentially, my year has consisted of two lives, my Spanish life and my London life.

My life in Madrid began taking a turn for the turbulent early in the year when I fell victim to the instability of teaching English post recession. As I struggled to make ends meet, I came to the conclusion that this would be my last year in Spain. So I began to make other plans. Plans to return to Canada. Maybe. The idea of returning home had little appeal to me at the time so cunningly, I decided to go BIG and move to London instead. Once I made that decision, my life in Madrid took on a new lightness and joy returned. I unexpected got a photo published in the New Yorker Online and a solo photo show at a hip local pub gallery in Lavapies. Life turned extraordinary. I began selling my photos not only to friends but strangers too. I even got a paying gig writing capsule reviews for an iphone travel guidebook app. While I didn't have the money to travel as much as I had in previous years, I did form deeper friendships and built a wonderful community of friends around me. We danced to salsa at a cuban joint, drank copious glasses of Rioja, nibbled on olives by the bowlful, went to a mountain village and even made a music video on the streets of Madrid together. Long after I left I still felt a yearning for my barrio, Lavapies, and although I would continue to miss my Spanish life, I knew that the life I missed no longer existed for most of my friends also moved on elsewhere.

When summer rolled around and my classes finished, I packed up my things and moved to London. I found a life boat on my brother's living room floor and began exploring my new world. I wandered the canals, saw swans, visited Brighton, strolled in a Tudor village, ate oysters in Whitstable, heard a choir singing mass in Canterbury Cathedral's cloister, time travelled to Medieval England, set up shop with a girlfriend in super cool east London's Sunday Upmarket and sold my photos, finished an internship as a magazine blog manager, fruitlessly applied for countless of jobs across the globe, danced with Kiwis, became a 4 day a week yogi, got a photo published online for Guardian's Been There competition, revamped my blog, kissed a sweet man and lit up a tree, got snowed in, and had an enchanting London Christmas. My time here has been a mind boggling, surging swirl of new experiences, hopes, disappointments, magical moments, possibilities, impossibilities spiced with the raw excitement of the unknown.

And so I rode this wave of uncertainty rather blindly and tried hard to find solid footing on which to build my sandcastles but in the end, I was bested by an expiring visa and unresolvable unemployment. So I've once again had to make another life changing decision. I know now that this is the moment, the moment to go home to Canada. I've had my London experience and it's been an awfully big adventure, albeit a short one. In a few days I'm moving to Vancouver and so 2011 brings with it yet another new life for me. It seems that I am fated to continue singing the song of the lonely wanderer - eternally learning anew to say goodbye and hello.

I don't do new year's resolutions; I instead choose a word that focusses my intention for the year. Last year my word-of-the-year was Flourish and all the bits of life that happened forced me to grow and find ways of flourishing in both feast and famine. At final count, Flourish, as an intention, will have taken me to 3 countries! 2011's word of the year is Create. Let's just see where that takes me :)

Happy New Year! I hope this life takes you places you never thought you'd end up but are glad that you have!

2 comments:

Te said...

So now we've both gone from Spain, to England to Home. It's funny how the right time to go home just 'hits' you, whether you were expecting it or not. Sounds like you've had a very full on year, and even if you felt you were just being swept along with it - if you'd tried to get a hold of it, it might have just swept by. Does that make sense outside of my head?
Best of luck in Canada, will you still be teaching?

Te.

Shehani said...

Hey Te! How's Home? It's a funny thing, this life - it takes you in circles sometimes. I'm not sure about Home but I'm sure that I'm on a new adventure and that's the right thing to do for now. I get what you're saying about life sweeping by if you're making too many plans to control things, as opposed to getting swept away by life when you surrender to the ride. I do like to navigate a bit though despite being rudderless ;)
I hope OZ is treating you well, my dear!
p.s. not planning on teaching English. I'm going to explore other vistas ;)

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