Happy New Year!
I just love saying that ;).
While we celebrated the Gregorian New Year some while back, now it’s the turn for the Chinese – and as a true cosmopolitan, I, of course, will celebrate with them. Tomorrow we move from a Tiger Year (yey!) to a Rabbit Year (eh… yey?). Not just any Rabbit though – a Metal Rabbit. I tend to like them fluffier, but hey, Chinese know best. But it got me wondering how my past life would look like if I would describe them in years. The Year of the PhD? The Year of the Cold Feet?
Now, as an introductory note, you should realize I was not an average teenager. I had no friends. I barely talked to my classmates, unless it was school related. I was an avid reader: I read in between classes, before classes, after classes, on the bus and at home. I spent my lunch breaks at the library, reading. I didn’t study – I just attended classes, did what I had to do, passed. I didn’t go out. My mum dragged me to musical classes, which I enjoyed, but I still wouldn’t open my mouth unless on stage. “Unsociable” was the word most people used to describe me.
But – and this is important – I was happy. I wasn’t bullied, I wasn’t excluded: my teachers, classmates, … reached out, tried to involve me – it was me who decided to place myself outside the group (though largely unconsciously). That’s the person who we start with in 1999.
1999: The Year of First Love
I was 17 and we met at summer camp, where we both worked. She blew me off my feet. I wasn’t in love, obviously, I just wanted to be with her. Talk. Be. I wasn’t in love. It took me almost 2 years to realize that, actually, I was. By then I had of course long blown my chances, lol, but we managed to stay close, and I’m guessing she might now me better than anyone, having witnessed (and helped me) change from who I was to who I am.
2000: The Year of University
Oh what a change! Classes in the morning from 8h30 till 12h45, practicals in the afternoon from 2pm till you were done, which could be any time between 5 and 8. It was exhausting. And I had to study. I had never studied before – prepared for tests, yes, but studied? No. Never. I passed half of the subjects (ironically, these were math and philosophy. I was in biology.). I failed the other half. It would be a summer full of physics and chemistry. But – I managed to make friends. They didn’t know they weren’t supposed to come close, to talk to me, and I discovered I actually enjoyed their company.
2001: The Year of Meeting Guys
While I built up some friendships, they were all with girls. Guys were … noisy. Annoying. Impatient. And noisy. I had always been in girls-only schools, and I had never had to deal with boys. At university, I had to work with them. I generally just shut up when they were around (think Raj from The Big Bang Theory, but the other way around), but it was impossible to keep this up. And as it turned out, after some getting used to, they were ok. Still noisy, but ok. Some were even pretty cute. And sweet. And nice to hug. VERY nice to hug (hey, 2 years ago I was “unsociable”, let’s take it slow, shall we?).
2002: The Year of the Bachelor
A year later than planned, I got my Bachelors in Biology, and decided to continue in Biotechnology. It was a big thing for me – I had managed to establish some friendships, against all expectations, almost coincidentally. Now I had to leave them behind (including my best friend who I obviously had a crush on) and get into a new group where, for the first time, I wánted to find friends. I wasn’t sure if I could do that in an intentional way. But lo and behold (been dying to use that expression!) – I did.
2003: The Year of the Firsts
First kiss and first boyfriend, that is. Both events took place in the same weekend, although with different boys. Hey, my crush wasn’t moving, somebody had to do something – but I didn’t know how to kiss. So I let the unthinkable happen, and allowed a guy to hit on me and kiss me. It was an unfortunate complication the guy, Pjetr, was actually in a relationship, but well, sacrifices have to be made for love, and I believe she never found out. I immediately put my new-gained knowledge into practice, and got myself a Viking boyfriend. He decided he was in love with another girl 3 moths later and broke my heart, but at least now I got the hang of the whole kissing thing.
2004: The Year of the Room, the Rebound(s), and the Second Boyfriend.
Finally my parents let me move on rooms in the city, so I no longer had to suffer hour-long busrides from home to school and back. Ah, the freedom… still grieving over the loss of my Viking, I started to fool around with Pjetr, my first-kiss guy (who was thereby cheating on his mistress with which he cheated on his girlfriend), and Tomaseti. Both things were kept secret, the first for obvious reasons, the second … for complicated reasons. As I was getting the hang of the whole girl/boy thing, I discovered Loetse. I had known him for 4 years, so I can’t say we met, but something happened. In theory, it lasted only a month – in practice though, it was the start of a platonic relationship that would last several years.
2005: The International Year and another First Kiss
I went on Erasmus, an exchange program, to Ireland for 5 months. In addition to the fun and freedom of living on rooms, I would now have to take on the responsibility of laundry and cooking. Still feeling very insecure socially, I preferred a rainy country where they spoke English over sunny Spain and promptly fell in love with Lite, a Portuguese guy who was there on holidays… . Deciding the long distance road was not ours to take, we broke it off when he went home, although we kept in touch.
That summer can only be described as eventful: I kissed a girl for the first time, cheated on her with Lite (just a kiss… honestly), had a quite dramatic departure from Portugal (think Hollywood), an equally dramatic return to Belgium (think jealous girlfriend), and started a new, long-distance relationship with Lite…
More or less my departure from Portugal. Plus tears. And both of us dating someone else.