Christmas has been and gone here on Scotland’s west coast in a swirl of torrential rain, tons of turkey and flotsams of festive wrapping paper. I honestly cannot believe we are reaching the end of another year! 2016 has been the quickest I can remember, and it’s had its fair share of ups and downs. So this week, between Christmas and New Year, is the perfect time to reflect on what has passed on a more personal level. If you’re interested in reading my travel-related musings on 2016, you can find them in the Scots Magazine here.
This year has been one of the most difficult of our lives together so far. B and I continued our quiet little existence in Edinburgh at the start of 2016, he desperately searching for a graduate job and me feeling more despondent in mine. But even though we were struggling with our careers, we were lucky in other ways. We had each other, and we had our families and friends. We took our weekends seriously and headed away from the city: Falkland, Inveraray, Kintyre and Flotterstone all featured during the early weeks of the year.
Yet as 2016 continued, we both began to lose hope. B was in a dead-end retail job that — no exaggeration — was chipping away at his confidence. I was stuck in a similarly dead-end content role that just wasn’t paying enough to sustain us both. By June, we’d reached breaking point. We travelled home to my parents’ one weekend and told them, ‘If we both can’t find jobs by August, we’re coming home.’
My dad looked terrified at the thought of his twenty-something daughter returning to live under his roof; or perhaps it was the inextinguishable optimism he had that prevented him from admitting reality. ‘Just wait,’ he told us as I stared at the ground, ‘Things might change in few weeks. It could all be different.’
We returned to Edinburgh feeling totally alone, distant from my family and even more distant from any sort of hope. But the strangest thing happened. Within a month, our fortunes had flipped. I’d had two job interviews for roles with established companies (and a bigger pay packet that could support us) and I’d been offered them both. It was a miracle (minus the reaction of my employer at the time, which put a slight dampener on the party).
By August, we were in Arisaig… And thank God. There’s nothing better for a battered mind than fresh air, a sea breeze and a lack of mobile phone signal. But between the blanks of 4G, B received a phone call from a recruitment company: they’d organised an interview for him with a firm up in Dundee.
He left early to prepare and a few days later, I too had returned to Edinburgh. I couldn’t breathe; I was counting the minutes he was in the interview. Two hours later, and I’d still heard nothing. I started to worry something had happened to him. Just as I picked up my phone to call him, his face flashed on my screen. He’d been offered the job!
And so a month after our lowest low, we ascended to our highest high. By October, we’d both started our new jobs in Dundee and Edinburgh respectively and — although B’s commute was uncommonly long — the work more than made up for it. Between the busy weekdays and my hopeless attempts at cooking, my diary entries for Saturdays and Sundays became scrawled with plans.
We went to the Borders, the Botanics, headed north to Dunkeld and Perth, and even spent our weekends exploring Edinburgh. I can’t explain how simple a pleasure it was for us to be able to wander our adopted city streets, pausing in cafés or shops, and actually have some disposable income to enjoy life that little bit more.
So as Christmas becomes history and lazy days give way to Hogmanay, I’m quite glad to see the back of 2016. Between the political upheaval on both sides of the Atlantic, the deaths of some of the world’s most creative people and — well — just life in general, it’ll be nice to embrace the fresh start that a new year will bring. We’re feeling optimistic about 2017 and we hope that this year will bring us and our loved ones even more happiness.