Ah, 2014. This is the year things are happening. Latvia, a country from which I take a quarter of my blood, is getting the Euro; Scotland, adopted home through autumn, votes for independence; a commercial cure for baldness is expected to be released; and if there is any justice in the world Daniel Brühl will win a damned Oscar (or at least that Globe).
And me? Five days into January I turn 19 and can drink in South Korea at last. I'm going back to Australia at the peak of summer, first home to rest in Melbourne and then up to Sydney for university. The absurdity of leaving Europe in order to take European Studies is not lost on me.
2013 was rough, naturally; 13 makes for an unlucky year. In March I moved out of home and to London. It was dark when I arrived, and I wandered up the street of my hostel, took wrong directions twice, was tired and cold and then, eventually, had help from a Scandinavian; it set the course for the year. Badly-paid jobs, in park huts and pie shops, and a boss who called to shout first thing in the morning. And there were nice times, of course, learning the best words in Polish, and eating Polish soup, and watching Polish reality television; drinking wine in basements, rushing outside when it snowed. And I travelled — I wandered over the ghost of a wall, sunbathed in an archipelago graveyard, sat frozen at a landlocked beach. I went to Bruges and ate nothing but chocolate and frites.
2013 was an itchy and complicated year. I'm glad it happened — it was essential — but I can't pretend to miss it. 2014 has to hold good things, but for me it starts on the second. I've never been a New Year person. Midnight is so late and the fireworks are so loud. With my birthday so close it's always seemed such an irrelevant event. Of course, since it's tradition I make a smorgasbord of unrealistic goals — but, this year, I'm committing only to one.
I want to learn how to spend money.
No, I mean it. I know how to be miserly and miserable; I know how to lose control and snatch up sparkly things innumerable. But now I want to buy non-essentials, like weird fruit, and seasonings. I want to begin to really make headway into my personal style; I want to roll sushi and drink wine on a Thursday night, and I want to use organic skincare products. This is called quality of life. It is expensive, but it is not to be found huddled under cheap polyester sheets in gaping leggings and a stained, unwashed shirt from the Port Fairy Folk Festival.
I want 2014 to be a little different.