It was while stuck in a cable-car on Boxing Day that I began reflecting on this crazy year.
Halting unexpectedly on the return leg of a short and seemingly safe ride on my local teleférico, I found myself hovering 40 metres above Madrid in a small cabin, bouncing gently in the breeze. Once I had finished playing out all the potentially terrifying scenarios of what could happen in my mind, all I could think was: This is going to make a great story.
And so, I revisited the question I have asked myself many times in 2020: just how influential is our environment to spark creativity?
Back in March, Spain entered one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. And suddenly confined within four walls, I was more inspired than I had been in my life…
The opportunity had finally arisen to launch a life-long dream of writing that was always going to be set in motion “one day”.
Unable to get out there and continue experiencing the Spain I was just getting to know, I sought inspiration elsewhere. And I found it – from my memories of the short time I had spent here. And not just the romanticised ones of olive groves, dazzling blue skies, and hypnotic flamenco, but I found it from my experiences – of the culture, the language (and from a fruity and frequent glass of Rioja). And I started to write.
The idea of theming ‘Lemoní’ on my language learning journey was my way of documenting the highs and lows of starting a new life abroad, sharing the successes and outpouring the language struggles I faced on a daily basis. From doctors’ visits to dance classes and everything in-between, these seemingly simple interactions have not only challenged me, but have given me something great to write about.
But there is a certain vulnerability in writing – you expose yourself in a different way, and unlike posting sunny snaps on Instagram, I was determined for my words to be unfiltered.
And so, in May, shielded behind my citrus-themed pseudonym but overwhelmed with encouragement and words of support, I published my musings and misfortunes (garnished with humour) to put a smile on the faces of family and friends.
And from the comfort of my own home, I continued to write and write.
I realised that maybe where you write isn’t so important after all, but instead, where you let your mind go – another lesson learnt this year.
And as I remained suspended in the sky over-looking the Spanish city where I spent the most “unprecedented” year of all, I was freshly inspired once more.
I have no doubt that 2021 will see me continuing to stumble and strive through many more encounters in Español but that’s ok, because every experience is one to appreciate and learn from (at least now I can blame la mascarilla for my mispronunciations!)
I vowed then, that if I made it safely back down to the ground in time for Nochevieja, (without plunging into the Río first), then I would join in with the Spanish custom, and with every chime of the bell at midnight, pop each of the 12 lucky grapes into my mouth and make a wish for each one:
For good health, for family, for friends, for safer times, for freedom and for making dreams come true. For being forever grateful, for happiness, for learning always, for loving, for living…
And for escaping cable-car rides unscathed.
Feliz año nuevo!
And lang may yer lum reek!