Expat diaries: Den Den reports from Heidiland, Part 6

Posted on December 6, 2010


6) The List, from December 2009

It all started with a list, written by a little girl who was determined to put behind her the numerous failures of 2008 and to make of the following year one which she would remember as the year when she finally managed to achieve what she really wanted to.

At the beginning of 2008, that girl had dreamt of breaking free for a while and going to Panama for a two-month working holiday. Through a lot of trepidation and anxiety, she managed to book her very expensive flight using the savings of a lifetime. She succeeded in making it till London, where her dream came crashing down (like an obese cow shot out of a circus canon after it realises it has no wings) when the particularly unfriendly man who greeted her at the American Airlines check-in desk told her she was missing the all-important transit visa necessary to set foot on the United States (specifically, to hang around in the transit lounge of the airport while awaiting the next flight). After that, the little girl spent the next two weeks feeling lost in the London winter, with a suitcase full of flip-flops and summer clothes, and with her luggage full of dreams still unopened. The cold she felt on the outside as she walked around the UK capital in her inappropriate clothing, was nothing compared to the metaphorical cold she was feeling inside. Needless to say, she went back to her country penniless (because the insurance would not reimburse the price of the ticket considering the fact that she should have known about the visa) and with her spirit severely brushed. Nothing eventful happened that year. She finished her Master thesis six months too late, and therefore missed her chance to do her final Viva Voce and graduate that November. She spent her life, day in day out, working in the same underpaid job, babysitting people who had somehow convinced themselves that getting drunk each night was making them learn English. She had never felt such a failure in her entire life.

In the midst of her disillusionment, the only thing which gave her hope was the incoming dawn of the New Year and the possibility of wiping the slate clean and starting from square one, humbled and made wiser by the happenings of the previous twelve months. With this spirit, she sat down and wrote the list which would shape the next twelve months into the most fantastical time of her entire life. Some of the things she wrote on that list she knew would soon be fulfilled; the flight to Korea had already been booked, and this time she had checked the visa requirements one zillion time (so when the young, gentle, half-imbecile lady behind the check-in counter looked at her with concern and declared that she might need a visa, she was overcome by a murderous urge only comparable to the one she had felt towards that little boy in primary school who, at the ripe age of 6, had savagely stolen her pretty bunch of daffodils as they were posing for a class picture). Some other things on that list were really only written as a form of encouragement, because she had been quite sure that she would never afford to pay her mother back nor imagine the contents of the next booker prize winner entry in the space of the following 12 months. Other things on that list happened, but not exactly as she had planned, the case in point being that she spent months looking for a job in Shanghai or Japan, but ended up setting her overweight suitcases on Heidiland soil.
Then again, many of the things she ended up getting had not been written on that list, but came as unexpected surprises, like meeting the love of her life (the real one) and having her first ever almost-white Christmas and New Year. She had written one particular point in the solitude of her bedroom on the last line of the back page of that paper, because she had been honest to herself in admitting that it would probably not come true. She had written that she wanted to spend the final minutes of the following year with the person she loved most in the world. At that time, a different name had been attached to that wish, and because she knew the man attached to that name well, she doubted that it would happen. Little did she know that so much would change in the space of a few months and that indeed, on the Eve of 2010 she and the man who had stolen her heart once and for all would be working in a restaurant in Switzerland (to earn some extra cash she would use to pay for the emergency Chritsmas Eve wisdom tooth removal), under the same roof, at the stroke of midnight.
Nearing the end of that wonderful adventure, she sat down once again and tried to write a new list, one which would accompany her and motivate her in her darkest hours of 2010, but somehow the tone had changed, and the circumstances where no longer adequate to make that list translate itself into a miraculous year…or so she thought. But then again, she had never imaged the outcome of her first list and therefore felt an obligation to give the second one the possibility to prove itself. And here is what she wrote:
– Build my first snowman
– Visit Luzern, Bern and Ticino in Switzerland
– Go sledding
– Get a haircut
– Finish my first novel (brought forward from last year’s list)
– Publish my first novel
– Repay the money I still owe my mum (brought forward from last year’s list)
– Show London to Ferenc
– Visit Krista in Amsterdam
– Finish writing the first part of my travelogue
– Earn some money from my writing

Most importantly, at the end of that list, she wrote what she had written and successfully achieved that previous year; live life to the full, and have no regrets.

-Text and Photography by Denise Pulis @ www.travelwithdenden.wordpress.com