I don’t really know how to begin to wrap up 2016. It was definitely a rollercoaster, but the only two things that really, really marred it were Brexit and the presidential election. Also Katie didn’t come to visit me. She is the worst.
It was a year that started rough, with a health scare, loss of health insurance, unemployment, and debt, and ended much, much better. This was the year I finally got the courage to leave the (relatively) secure life I had for myself in LA, and follow my dreams of traveling and living abroad.
Here are the 16 best things that happened to me in 2016:
1. I got a job! After months of unemployment, I was hired on an amazing show run by amazing people. Teenage Kristen would never have believed she’d go to work every day with Damon Lindelof, and yet, that was my life for nine months.
2. I got out of debt. Not only did I get out of debt, but I managed to save enough that a RTW trip is looking entirely possible, which would be another dream come true.
3. I got promoted at my job. No longer was I a writers PA, instead I was an assistant and suddenly I worked for someone who cared about my notes, talked out story ideas, and trusted my opinion. It was a great accomplishment, and one that made leaving all the more difficult.
4. I didn’t take my last months in LA for granted. When I first arrived in LA in January of 2012, no part of me thought I’d stay long term. I didn’t like the city, and couldn’t imagine ever feeling good living in it. Cut to nearly five years later, and wow do I love LA. I love my friends, I loved my apartment, the weather, the passion and drive. The landscape. I sincerely hope I end up back in California one day. And I’m proud I built a life there that was so hard to leave.
5. I went to Vegas to see Kesha with some amazing people. And the Hoover Dam. It was really hot, I lost $20 gambling, ate (and drank) way too much at a buffet, and had the time of my life.
6. I got Gareth to like LA. The first time he came to visit, I was unemployed, broke, and not super happy with my life there. I don’t think I showed him the best side of LA, though I did get him to love Santa Barbara. This time, I was in full on appreciation mode, and I think that really shined through. Also he brought a skateboard and was able to see more than just the main roads which I can admit are not the most attractive of sights.
7. I went back to the Pacific Northwest! Seattle had been on my list for years, and I realized I was leaving the west coast with no sure timeline of when I would be back. So the morning after Gareth arrived, we hopped on a plane at LAX and checked out Portland and Seattle. I love Seattle. (Portland was okay but also kind of terrifying!)
8. I MOVED TO SPAIN. That´s the big one. I can’t explain to you guys enough–for years I spent all my free time planning trips I had no time or ability to take. I obsessively read travel blogs and died of jealousy. I basically figured out my ideal life and then refused to live it. Until now! It was super scary and hard and I barely knew Spanish but here I am!
9. I got out of debt!
10. I voted for Hillary Clinton. Because I am a good person who did not want a racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, predator in the White House.
11. I prioritized travel. In my first month here I booked tickets to Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Wroclaw, London x2, and Belgium. Finally making up for my lack of travel while studying abroad!
12. I found my favorite city. I haven’t written about it yet, but it’s Amsterdam. I love that place so much and seriously hope to live there one day. I have a lot more to say, but that’ll be in a separate post.
13. I improved my Spanish. It’s not nearly where I want it to be, but hopefully I won’t be leaving Spain for a while yet, and I am committed to continuing to improve until it is.
14. I introduced my mom to Europe! This was one of the highlights of my year, and something I’ll treasure forever. She wants to start learning Spanish. She wants to come back in the spring. I’ll make a world traveler out of her yet! Also she got to meet Gareth’s family and it wasn’t horrible… I might even say it went well. So, that’s a real relief.
15. I ended 2016 right–with friends and (some) family, and we went back to the Priory, aka heaven, for New Year’s, which was spent in a tiny house in the middle of nowhere with some of my closest friends.
16. I moved to the same continent as Gareth. Wow. Can I fully explain how amazing it is to go from a 12 hour flight and 8 hour time difference to a 2 hour flight and a time difference that levels out the fact that he goes to bed stupidly early? I can’t. But trust me, it’s amazing.
A lot happened in 2016. Let’s see what 2017 has in store!