With two and a half more hours left in my train ride from London to Edinburgh, I finally get the quiet time I need to compose a year-ender post. I was not able to do this type of post last year as I was still reeling from the aftermath of a nastily broken heart but simultaneously lavishing from the high of visiting Japan for the first time. Now that things have relatively calmed down (or picked up), I can take stock and look back to this tumultuous year with some sort of objectivity, afforded to me by the great ending the year is giving me. And so we begin.
First Quarter Storm
The first quarter was difficult. I found myself doing things by myself that I have forgotten to do by myself for the past (almost) seven years. New Year’s day, Valentine’s Day and even my birthday. As usual, my birthday was planned way in advance and a trip to Davao was involved. Advanced planning has its advantages but it also sets the mind to create scenarios that stick and become difficult to redesign. So, despite my friends’ efforts at cheering me up during this low point in my life, embarking with me on my would’ve-been-another-solo-birthday trip, I could only repay them with moodiness and snark. Come to think of it, I never even got around to posting our photos.
Second Quarter Flurry
The second quarter of the year put work life at the center. At the office, I was training for a different task (one that I had tried so hard to avoid), organizing events for the team and an employee resource group, and going places with people I met through one of my teammates. It was a busy time and I reveled in the distraction. Unfortunately, all the activities caused my blog to suffer. It was also around this time that I finally decided to stop doing restaurant reviews altogether. My heart – in pieces as it was – was not in the best place to write.
Third Quarter Fall
The dark, dark time of the year. For the first time now, I am publicly declaring that I was a statistic: My Schengen Visa application got rejected. Three times. Twice by the French embassy and once by the Dutch embassy. Now for everyone who personally know me, going to Europe is a dream. I was in fifth grade when I first discovered Greek mythology (through Xena, Warrior Princess no less) and I became obsessed. I read everything I could get my hands on in that topic. This included reading about Greece, then later on Italy. I even took up Italian in U.P. to prepare myself for the trip of the lifetime. I didn’t stop at Italian though. I studied Spanish and French, too, finally realizing that languages are my thing. Learning all these languages became the gateway to reading up about all these places I could see (and food I could eat!), slowly but surely adding fuel to that desire to travel to the Old Continent. Half of my life has been built around this idea, so as each rejection came, the fire got doused bit by bit, leaving behind bitter coals of resentment. Making me an empty shell with a self-doubting soul and ashes for a heart. I once got accused of “mamatay ‘pag di nakapunta sa Europe (I would die if I won’t go to Europe)”. But no, I am afraid I’d die without having stepped foot in it.
Fourth Quarter Spring
Funny how I do always try to read my yearly horoscope through those booklets that my mother buys. I remember reading somewhere that 2016 would definitely suck for me… but things should turn around by the last quarter. Ah, the fourth quarter was a roller coaster! It started with my UK Visa application taking longer than I expected, thereby planting a seed of hostility in my travel buddy to Japan. I don’t blame her at all. I probably would have felt exactly the same way had I been told that she would not be able to push through with the trip that I had been looking forward to. Ultimately, things turned for the better. October marked my UK Visa getting approved, we went to Japan and I decided to once again apply for a Schengen Visa. Just by the off-chance that it would be granted since I already have a UK Visa and my planned itinerary included an exit not from a Schengen area, but from London. After our family trip to El Nido, November gave me the bittersweet news that my Schengen Visa was finally approved. Sweet! But it was only valid for a month and with a maximum stay of 5 days at a time. To add insult to the injury, it was a multiple entry visa but I was asked to report to the embassy when I get back. So, I had to cut my trip short and would have to apply yet again if I want to go back (that I of course do). But hey. I. Will. Take. What. I. Can. Get. It’s finally coming true! My repeated encoding of Europe.2016 / Eu.2016 / Europe.16 as passwords finally paid off.
So here I am, freezing my face off in the United Kingdom. I never thought I’d be entering Europe through this door but I might as well. Throughout the year I became so very fond of Outlander the TV series that I vowed (just in passing actually) to visit Scotland. I didn’t think it would happen this year though. But I’m so glad it did.
Just like any year-ender post, I would be leaving behind a hopeful wish for the new year. I am spending January 1, 2017 in two countries: in the U.K. and in France. Yes, I’ll be flying to Paris on the first of January. And if anything, that should herald a beautiful start to a new year.
The Elephant House
Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K.
December 31, 2016