A year ago today we were sitting at this same kitchen table at Magda’s parents’ house and preparing to pack up to return to Nova Gorica. Just behind that plan, though, was the London job fair we were booked into for the end of January, and with it the expectation that 2008 would be a year of great change for us, though we had no clear idea of precisely what those changes would entail. That sort of uncertainty is invigorating, and I might go so far as to say that it’s one of life’s great elements, but it can wear you down when you’ve got kindergarten, potty training, and metric tons of toys to consider. In spite of such daunting logistical hurdles, we knew in our bones that 2008 should and would Bring The New. Borne out. In effect, 2008 has been a year-long move. While relocating from Slovenia to Bulgaria was not nearly as upheaval-y as, say, going to Burkina Faso would have been, the project of getting ourselves, our kids, and all of our kids’ toys from one country to another has not been easy. We returned from London in early February with our Sofia jobs secured and settled into the long list of tasks that needed to be accomplished in order to make the change a reality. Most of our spring was given over to logistical crap: contacting movers, sorting/tossing/cursing, and finally the packing, a task at which Magda would have a Ph.D if such fields granted degrees but which still seemed endless and grueling. Other than a nice little camping trip with the boys and a short, bracing hike for the parents, our summer holiday was non-existent. I took some long-stored comp time from work to do the last of the heavy packing and then we were on the road. While August was technically a month off, we were hard at work through all of it getting unpacked and moved in to our new apartment, which, while tight in fit, seemed congenial enough. Wrong. The autumn was difficult in all kinds of ways for all of us, and adding to it all was an upstairs neighbor situation that started off intolerable and got worse from there. Ultimately we walked away, which, while a great relief, made for an end to 2008 which ranked among the most stressful and difficult ten-day periods of my life (and I was alive when “One Day At A Time” debuted). Our return to Sofia on Saturday will involve a last visit or two to the old flat, which we’ve taken to referring to as “the Shithole”, not for its own offensiveness but more for the associations we have with it — though to be fair, it’s occurred to us since moving that we may have been living in the shittiest little corner of a city that is not renowned for its lack of shitty areas. We have not moved far, so that Adam’s kindergarten and our work commute are still theoretically walkable, and the place we managed to slide into at a day’s notice is a good deal smaller even than our previous snug apartment, but the change in quality of life we anticipate on returning to Sofia in 2009 is significant. Perhaps most of all we’re excited that we’ll be living among colleagues, and the social element that had been lacking before should be no longer. Though it goes against our grain, we like our workmates. Bonus: new apartment is kebab-convenient. And also for 2009, while our jobs remain demanding and a challenge, I hope that I’m finally getting a grip on balancing work and life — something that in Slovenia was so far from being a problem that it turned into a problem — and returning to things I care about outside the warm and bounded little world of work/home/kids; taking pictures, for example, which has almost completely not happened since moving to Bulgaria, and writing and posting things that are slightly longer than 140 characters (sorry, by the way, to RSS/Twitter/Facebook users who’ve felt gypped by the multiple-dipping involved in the tweet integration below), and maybe, finally, getting around to redesigning this site to reflect geographic and other changes over the course of the last year. I am not a maker of New Year’s resolutions, but I do expect that the next few months will seem me starting to
smooch the internet a little more sincerely in the next few months, and to be fitter, happier, more productive. 2009, let’s go.