I’d like to tell you a little story. A little while ago, I was filling in a very demanding job application that required a list of every job I had ever had and of every trip abroad I had ever taken. As you can imagine, this was a complete pain: I had to trawl through emails from years ago, searching for flight confirmations and clues from years-old conversations to pin down the exact date I started X job or moved to Y address.
In doing this, I realised that the emails that I sent to my long-distance partner during that time served as a sort of running commentary on my life; not just on the milestones but on the little things too. Everything was there: my good days, my bad days, my self-depracating humour, my crippling weaknesses, my hopes and dreams for a phantom future I would never, it turns out, live out. It’s comforting to have this log of experiences to look back on, so I can trace what happened when, which decisions I made and why, and how I got to be where I am today.
Since the relationship ended, I have kept no such record of my life. For a whole year, all of the people who were closest to me actually lived close to me – just along the hall or at most a bus ride away. So we would just talk about things in person, and I never had to write it down. But now things have changed again. I’ve moved to Madrid, most of my friends are far away again, and in the meantime I somehow seem to have got involved with another American, who is now back in America. And so today, when I came home from an exciting day of discovering my new home city, my first instinct was to write him an email and tell him all about it. I guess old habits die hard.
But then I stopped and thought for a minute. Why was I relying on him to be the reader of this micro-auto-biography? After all, my incredibly exciting and inspiring day essentially amounted to eating a sandwich and taking a book out from the library. And while I’m confident I could have composed an 1800-word email about it all, was I really doing it because I knew he would be dying to hear my news? Of course not: I was doing it for the simple cathartic release of writing it all down. I was doing it for me. And then I remembered that I have a blog called A Trail of Breadcrumbs whose explicit purpose is to document all of these little things, allowing me to express myself without wittering on to my long-suffering American boyfriends about my mediocre days-in-the-life, and to have a written reminder of what happened when and how and why, so I can read back over it later and trace how my life got to where it is today.
So instead of an email, I’m writing a blog post. A blog post that, of course, didn’t turn out to be about the delicious roast beef sandwich I bought from a food truck at a pop-up street fair, nor about the peaceful library right in the middle of the stunning Parque del Retiro where I obtained my Madrid public library card and borrowed a book by Javier Marías just to force me to go back again. Instead, it turned out to be about everything that’s happened since I stopped writing in here, and everything that’s happened since I started writing in here, and everything I hope might happen if I start writing in here again. Because five years ago, a lost little 17-year-old girl at the start of an exciting new adventure had a premonition: that she would always be a lost little girl, looking for reasons and connections and explanations about her life, and that she would need a blog like this to help her remember where she came from and guide where she was going. And she was right.