A year ago, I flew to Vienna.
It was the beginning of a great experiment: to see if I could sustain myself through freelance copywriting while living for two months in Europe. It worked, mostly. I made enough to keep going, but not enough to do so indefinitely. I wanted to bring my German back up to the proficiency level I’d achieved during the year I spent as an au pair after high school, and it certainly improved but not as much as I wanted. I traveled more than I expected, but was less productive than I imagined I would be. (I blame my imagination for that.)
Nevertheless, a lot of that trip went super well. I had a friend living with me my first month, which probably helped to get me up in the morning and kept me motivated to work through the day. It was summer, which left plenty of daylight in the evening for me to wander around and enjoy the city after work finished. I knew the language and had a good reference point for the culture, so a lot of the experience felt familiar and comforting. The entire trip left me full of inspiration and a sense of possibility. I came home bursting with ideas and motivation.
Most of that didn’t pan out. But more of it has than I give myself credit for. From June 1st, 2016 to June 1st, today, it’s been an intense year. I spent four months of it living abroad, I learned new career skills, I met some great people, pushed my boundaries, regretted pushing my boundaries, learned some really useful things about the boundaries that I pushed and later regretted pushing, changed my mind about some things, disassembled some of my Islands of Personality and started reconstructing them, found focus, lost focus, re-found focus. All-in-all, a bit of a rollercoaster for someone who doesn’t really like rollercoasters.
But I’m glad the whole thing started from Vienna. When I think back, I feel grateful for the sunshine in the park, for the waiters who left me be while I wrote, for the long walks at night, for the vaulted ceilings and marble tables and coffee served on silver trays, and for the pianist playing Für Elise while I nursed an Aperol spritz and listened. I wrote when I left that I could see myself going back one day. I still think that ways sometimes, much to my surprise. Whether it’s nostalgia or the beginning of something bigger, I don’t know.
Maybe I’ll know more this time next year.