Long-time readers will know I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The idea that I’ll suddenly learn to enjoy exercise, start saving money for my old age, or gain the ability to meditate, just because it’s January, is laughable. We all know I’ll be the same crusty-tempered, sweary, carb-loading, pension-less, sedentary, anally retentive nutcase I’ve always been. I’m in my forties now, new habits can fuck off.
But if I were to set myself a task for 2022, it’d be to reconnect with life in Bulgaria. One good thing about the pandemic was it reinforced how moving to Bulgaria was the best decision we ever made. In the early lockdown times, I remember being baffled by articles and social media updates about people struggling with lockdown. (And I’m not talking about the economic uncertainty of it all. Totally get that. We went through the same thing, as my own freelance projects shrivelled up. I just mean the ‘being forced to stay home’ side of things.) Who doesn’t love being at home ALL THE TIME?, I’d naively think to myself. A lot of people, it turns out. It was a reminder that many folks don’t have the luxury of a comfortable home of their own, with a big garden to keep them busy, and endless nature to stroll in. We do, and for that we’re eternally grateful.
That said, although we love our lifestyle here in Bulgaria, the pandemic has left us a bit … detached from Bulgarian life, if that makes sense. We see less of our neighbours than we used to. We didn’t set foot in a restaurant for a whole year (we only ventured back into restaurants this summer). And we stopped having Bulgarian lessons because our teacher had a baby at the start of the pandemic. For some reason, despite owning the world’s largest collection of Teach Yourself Bulgarian books, we refuse to teach ourselves Bulgarian. If I’m being kind, I’d say my language skills have stagnated, but I suspect they’ve gone backwards. Words I used to know have shuffled out of my brain to make space for … I don’t know what exactly, Instagram pictures of cakes? YouTube videos of people making ‘chicken’ drumsticks out of bean curd skin? Dust? I’m slightly concerned that my brain is just cobwebs and Christmas songs at the moment.
The point is, the pandemic allowed me to indulge my introverted cave-dweller tendencies a little more than is healthy, and I now find myself pining for Bulgaria, a country that I’m literally living in. It’s a weird feeling.
So my wish (not resolution) for 2022 is that I’ll plug back into this mad, beautiful place that we call home. I want to hike in new places. Go back to the Black Sea. See Rila Monastery and hike the seven lakes (I’ve been saying that for years). Visit Varna and Ruse, two big cities that we haven’t seen yet. Discover new restaurants in Sofia, instead of eating in the same three restaurants every time we pop down there.
And I really wish friends and family can visit us again. Because I’m never prouder than when I’m showing off this place and the life we’ve built here.
I guess I should also wish for world peace, an end to the pandemic, or something equally altruistic. Hmmm… I wish for high-waisted, relaxed-fit jeans to remain in fashion forever and that women never have to pour themselves into skinny jeans that show their butt crack ever again. Nailed it.
Well, that’s humanity fixed. I’m signing off for the year so I can devote the next two weeks to baking a multitude of pastry delights and maintaining a steady blood alcohol level of 0.2%.
How ‘bout you? What are you devoting your time to this Christmas, and do you have any wishes for 2022?