It’s been a year since I last posted. I think that makes 2014 the only year in the archives with a single post to its name. Guess that must mean I haven’t been up to much, right? Guess again! 2014 was a very important year for me, and one that took me further away from the blogger you used to know than any other – that’s right, more so than the time I moved to Costa Rica, more so than the time I graduated from my degree and entered the world of (unpaid >_>) employment.
What happened in 2014 that changed so much? I decided to take my life into my own hands. January 2014, as Januaries are wont to do, got me to thinking about where I was in my life and where I wanted to be. The two Megans I have sitting on either shoulder got in a bit of a bust-up over the whole will-I-stay-or-will-I-go issue, and in the end, the Megan who was happy and comforted and in love with a guy who was on the other side of the world from her in more ways than one ended up weepily letting go. The other Megan, the realist, you might say the cynic, finally won her over and made her see that I had lost sight of what I wanted and what I would be if it were just me on this journey. As much as I wanted to end up with Grant, I also wanted the chance to end up being the Megan I always dreamed I would be. And since a) I’d kind of forgotten what that was in between dreaming of picket fences and American eskimos and Toaster Strudels™, and b) if I wanted to follow the interpreting career path that 14-year-old Megan had embarked upon all those years ago, I needed to make some decisions based solely on what was good for me and no-one else… I ended the long-distance relationship that’s characterised this blog since the very beginning and decided to just be Megan for a while.
This decision – which reminded me a little bit of ‘the scene’ in 127 Hours, in that breaking your own heart is a tremendously difficult thing to physically do – was followed by several weeks spent in bed, very little social interaction and a great, great deal of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. One day, a medical appointment dictated that I leave the confines of my duvet and get on a bus. On this, my first attempt at venturing out into the world, a random guy chose the seat next to mine in a bus full of empty seats and started chatting me up (including a comment on the leather leggings I was implementing to channel my inner Buffy). I remember being very aware of being single, not in a Hey-this-guy’s-kinda-cute sort of way but in an Oh-God-I-can’t-just-casually-mention-my-boyfriend-and-make-him-go-away-any-more sort of way. So what did I do? I casually mentioned my ex-boyfriend, except I ‘forgot’ to mention the ‘ex’ part.
I don’t think it was a case of denial. I think it was a case of shock of being thrust into this situation I was so unaccustomed to. But it threw me headfirst into this new stage of my life, and I realised that, from now on, I was going to have to anticipate being approached, both in the sense of knowing how to politely reject a guy without lying about my relationship status and in the sense of being open to not actually rejecting him at all. I began my slow journey towards being ready to date again.
Unfortunately, there’s not much point in being ready to date again if you live in an area with very few eligible bachelors and nothing on the social calendar that would facilitate your meeting them. So it was really more of a symbolic readiness when it came, and I couldn’t even say how many months it took to come in the first place. But it did, I reached that point, and I healed, and in the meantime, while I remained holed up in my room, it wasn’t watching Buffy and snivelling: it was translating, earning money, starting my own business and finally investing in my career. Even through the initial pain, I had always known that this was the right choice for me, and now I was beginning to prove it to myself. Freed from the unhealthy attachment to my computer, I began to go out, get some use out of that driver’s license I had pointlessly acquired prior to my last visit to Ohio, take some government-funded business classes at my local Business Gateway, and apply to some translation agencies, full-time jobs and Masters courses. My Italian improved. My confidence grew. My savings began to first exist, then grow, recovering from the blow of paying off my undergraduate student loans to finally surpass the sum I needed to pay for the Masters I was admitted to in Interpreting and Translating at Heriot-Watt. I even went on a couple of dates, and although nothing came of them, it did me the power of good and gave me a story or two to tell, for better or worse. Mostly worse.
In between all of these things, I also paid and received many visits to/from my friends around the world. I saw Vinnie and Davide when they came to Edinburgh: in fact, they did so alongside Grant and his sister, my friend Amanda (from Strasbourg, remember?), but I didn’t get to see either member of the Stubbins clan, which was too bad. I saw Leïa and Angela when we converged on Madrid where she was studying for her Masters. I saw Sara when she came to visit the Borders, and we discovered some of the literary and cultural attractions of the area (of which it turns out there actually are some, after all). I visited my dad in Sarajevo and Dubrovnik, hosted Katy up from south of the Border, jetted off to see Carlo and Naples, drove Leïa and Angela around some of Scotland’s most beautiful sights, and headed to Somerset twice to sleep on Katy’s couch and be fed far too much free alcohol at the inimitable Oscar’s Wine Bar.
Much to my parents’ pride, I participated in my first ever political campaign. Remember Scottish Independence? Well, the No vote was in spite of our best efforts, me and my fellow Yes supporters. I posted long anti-Westminster tirades on my Facebook page, I went to meetings, I read articles, I knocked on doors, I bombarded my friends with undeniable facts and figures, I handed out leaflets in the street, I coloured in posters. I slept barely a wink on the night of September the 17th, wrote the proudest ‘X’ I’ve ever written on a ballot paper the next morning, and then I stayed up all night to watch the results roll in and cried in my neighbour’s arms when the vote came back No.
And, finally, I moved out again. It was the second least far away from home I’ve ever moved, and yet somehow it felt like the scariest one. I remember worrying that I wouldn’t make friends, that the course would be too difficult, that I wouldn’t fit in and would want to drop out and come home. But of course, these fears all proved unfounded. I managed to weasel my way into a great group of people in halls, all of whom are outrageous in their own ways and all of whom I’m very fond of. As we all live within 50 metres of each other, we eat together pretty much every night: There are six of us, and it turns out six is a pretty good number of people to cook for. So far we’ve indulged in the likes of whole roast chickens, the parmigiana di melanzane Angela taught me to make during her visit, daringly carnivorous menus such as beef burgers with pork chops and a side of sausages from my Texan neighbour Reade, and Regina’s traditional German potato pan. So on that front, I’ve been very lucky.
I’m keeping up with classes, but in contrast with my undergraduate course, instead of striving for stellar marks I’ve decided to try and balance academic achievement with some extra-curricular things. I’m the president of the Postgraduate Society, and together the board has put together some successful events so far and plans to do a great deal more next semester. Once again, I’ve ended up befriending foreigners on an almost exclusive basis: Thanks to my neighbour Fabian and my classmate Regina, my German has expanded from almost being able to say ‘Mutti, Mutti, mein Zahn tut mir weh, hier, auf den linken Seite’ (Mummy, Mummy, my tooth hurts, here on the left side); ‘Um Gottes willen, Sie haben die Löven freigelassen!’ (Good God, they’ve set the lions loose!) and ‘Yippee ya yeh, Schweinebacke!’ (Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker) to include such key phrases as ‘Haben Sie diese Kleit auch in dem Groß 36?’ (Do you have this dress in a size 36?), ‘Die Frau isst eine Orange’ (The woman is eating an orange), and a whole verse of Fabian’s favourite German schoolchildren’s song, ‘Von den blauen Bergen kommen Wir’. Note: All of these are almost certainly wrong, as my German spelling is very poor and my understanding of the cases non-existent, but you get the idea.
Germans aside, most of my new friends are Anglo-Saxons of some description: Maryland, Texas, Canada, Berwick… They may give me blank or occasionally disgusted looks when I make casual references to décalage or linguistic chunking, but they brew a good beer and always pretend my food tastes good. Depending on how temporary this return to blogging ends up being, you may hear more about these fellows shortly, one in particular; but, both in the interests of keeping it ‘short’ (snigger) and in the interests of not having to deal with a collective ‘Not again, Megan!’ from my ‘many’ (snigger) blog readers as well as my mother, I’ll leave that for another time. It felt apt to get writing again, since a) it’s been a full year, and b) I just completed the biggest translation project of my career so far (63,871 words in under 3 weeks, thank you very much) so I needed something to release the stress a little bit, and there’s nothing quite as cathartic as this little haven of mine.
Looking at my home page, with the short description of why I’m writing this Trail of Breadcrumbs, makes me so glad that I decided to begin this blogging journey nearly five years ago. I’ve also begun to realise that, during the Grant era, I not only had my blog as a reminder of where I’d been and what I’d done but also the countless daily emails that used to fire back and forth between us, leaving a pixel trail that could probably stretch around the world ten times over. For the last twelve months, I’ve been incredibly busy travelling, learning, working, meeting people, and all the things life is supposed to be about; but I have very little record of any of it. I hope I can get back into the habit of dropping these little breadcrumbs so I’ll be able to look back during some future era and marvel at the winding trail of excitement, apprehension, joy and heartbreak that has made up my life so far.
Over and out, fellas. A very happy 2015 to all of you.