I was supposed to spend New Year’s Eve 2010 on the beaches of Honolulu. Then I broke up with my boyfriend a few days before Christmas, endured the nightmare of cancelling an extremely expensive and non-refundable flight, and booked a cheap flight to see my best friend in Orange County.
After riding a tandem bicycle on the beach and kayaking in San Clemente Harbor, we lounged on the couch with her triplet sisters, other friends and parents that night, her mom suggested we make predictions about where we’d be in 10 years. My friend’s dad insisted I’d end up living in France; my best friend, all too used to my making grandiose plans and promptly forgetting about them, laughed and I said I’d never do it.
I booked a plane ticket 28 days later. And that kind of sums up my 2010. A touch of spontaneity, a little bit of blind faith and a heck of a lot of confidence. I picked up and moved to Nice, a place where I didn’t know a soul, didn’t have a job, wasn’t fluent in the language.
And somehow, I found myself lying on the beach, staring at the Mediterranean and soaking up the sunshine, wondering how exactly I got so lucky. 2010 had me crossing off my bucket list left and right: La Tomatina in Spain, staying in the luxury hotels in Barcelona, learning how to bartend in Nice, eating meatballs in Stockholm, staying up all night in Amsterdam.
2010 taught me that anything is possible if you’re willing to take a risk, work hard and be smart about saving and spending. Living as an expat or a traveler isn’t as glamorous as it sometimes looks–or, more accurately, how we work to make it appear. I have bouts of homesickness, doubt, fixed-life envy. Somehow, though, the little travel joys always manage to make me smile.
Looking back at New Year’s Eve 2010, I never could have predicted how this year would turn out–but I can certainly assure you it was much better than my heartbroken self would have envisioned.
So now I’m looking toward 2011 with that same sense of whim and wanderlust: I’m moving to Australia in a matter of weeks with nothing but a visa and a “no worries” attitude.
I fly back to Orange County tomorrow to ring in 2011 with my best friend, without whom I might never have found the guts to follow my dreams. I’m sure she’ll laugh when I mention my plans to sky dive over the Great Barrier Reef or get my paragliding pilot’s license–but that might be just the push I need to book it.