Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011, in retrospect

Today is a beautiful bright blue-sky day and the first day of 2012!  And my God, 2011, was an excellent year, no?  Last year I marked the year by months, but this year I think I’ll mark it by places I’ve been, by trips I’ve taken and things I’ve learned.
On February first last year I left my family behind on the icy tarmac and flew by myself to France on a day when it wasn’t clear that we would get off the ground because of how much ice and snow there was in Boston and I landed in Paris, a Paris with no snow but grey skies and long stretches of early morning without sunlight, a Paris full of café crèmes and buttery croissants and lectures on Hellenistic Athens.  I got lost in February again and again, turning down strange seventeenth-century streets, traipsing through the Jardin du Luxembourg, losing myself in Shakespeare & Company to novel after novel.  Caleb arrived, and we ventured further afield together, to the Marais and l’As du Falafel, to museums and little forgotten parks, to places that seemed scary or lonely by myself but were beautiful with someone else.  And finally the rest of the family arrived, and we started our incredible Parisian adventure (well, I’d already started mine).  The next couple months were French classes and public lectures and playing the big grand piano in the living room, venturing with James Joyce and David Foster Wallace to cafés scattered across the city, attending Fashion Week with my siblings and having picnics with my school friends.  Until April.
In April my family took two weeks off (part of the deal we made with the people whose apartment we were renting) and went to Morocco and Spain.  We went to Tangier and Meknes and the glorious city of Fès (one of the most beautiful and vibrant places I’ve ever been), and then to Andalucía – to Granada where the Alhambra is and to Cordoba, home of the Mezquita.  Those were a glorious two weeks, full of new places and experiences, and suddenly we were back in Paris.
In May the ever-lovely Alexandra and I left Paris and China and Istanbul behind for Budapest and our month-long train trip through Europe.  We started in the shining Budapest and went to Vienna (where we attended a concert in the opera house and ate at the café that Trotsky frequented), to beautiful and romantic Venice, to living-history Florence and to Milan with the incredible cathedral.  We went to the glorious city of Praha and to Copenhagen by way of Berlin, to Brussels and then back to Paris (with a short stop at the Catacombs) and onward to London and Oxford.  Alexandra, this May-June month has been one of the most incredible thirty days of my life, and I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone but you.
At the end of June we had to move from our lovely apartment in the fourteenth to the super-hip Marais, and we took a couple of weekend trips into the surrounding countryside, to Bourgogne and the incredible Bretagne, and all too soon it was August and we had to leave Europe.
We went to Nantucket for a week in August, as we do every year, and I got on a plane once again to Portland, Oregon, to go backpacking in Washington State (Mt Adams, in case anyone is interested) and to move into my new home at Reed College.
The past couple months have been all college.  I have read about Greece and Egypt and Persia, more David Foster Wallace, and biology-at-large.  I have gone to French conversation classes and come out spinning and dancing with happiness.  I have gone home for a week in October to a bright New England autumn and up to Seattle for a weekend on my grandfather’s birthday.  I have helped to capture the Doyle Owl and made chocolate-pecan pie for Thanksgiving with my friends.  And I have spent long nights studying alone and with friends, working on finals and finally coming home for Christmas with my family, for the holiday party and picking out a Christmas tree, for beautiful morning and afternoons like this one with the five of us in the kitchen.
Happy 2012, everyone!  Hopefully this year will be even better than the last!

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