When I was 16, I moved abroad for a year. I’d always wanted to go to England, and on a whim (which is very unlike me) I decided that it would be fun to spend some time in a different country. So there I went, suitcases packed, dyed brown hair and a lot of black eyeliner — off on an adventure across the sea. It turned out to be one of the most horrible and challenging and amazing years. If I had known what waited ahead I’m pretty sure my 16-year-old self would have smiled politely and said, “thanks, but no thanks.”
But I went, and lately, I’ve been thinking about that year a lot. It’s the year I met my very best friend. We shared a tiny bedroom for months and didn’t drive each other (too) crazy. Honestly, I didn’t think it were possible. And even though we live in different countries now and lead completely different lives, we still speak almost every day. It’s also the year we tried to settle into a host family that clearly didn’t want us there. And it’s the year we took a leap of faith and moved to a different host family: many a monopoly-night (and fight), elaborate dinners, road trips and inappropriate jokes later, they felt like our second family.
But the reason my year abroad keeps popping up its head is because of this story I wrote. I’ve always wanted to write, and I’ve always been too afraid to do so. But I was in England, this was my year away so I threw caution to the wind and signed up for a Creative Writing class. The first draft of a story I was trying to work on, I handed in with sweaty hands and hot cheeks. It was my first time ever having someone else read work that I had put actual time and effort into. It was also the first time having to accept constructive criticism, which I was dreading. Slowly but surely, more people signed up for the class, which meant also reading other people’s work and giving feedback. It was a small group of about 8 students and once I got over my initial fear I truly enjoyed the writing classes.
We ended up doing a book project, where all of us wrote a story loosely based around a fictional town we created called Pastures Cross. Apart from that one connecting factor, all of our writings were very different in terms of topic and style. Some took place in the past, some in the future (mine), and they varied from crime to fantasy to romance. When I wrote my story, I set it about seven to eight years into the future, in November 2017. I based a story on an astronomical event: a double blue moon. One that would happen in 2018. And hey! what a coincidence. It’s 2018. One evening this January, I looked at the sky at night and the moon was bright and perfectly round. When I went to bed, my eyes suddenly flashed open and I realized — this was the moon I had written about. The double blue moon: two full moons in both January and March. Something that only occurs once every 19 years.
For one reason or another, it felt really special to realize that this future event that I wrote about for a writing project was real and here, now. Three of the fulls moons have come and gone, but there’s one full moon “left” at the end of March. And then it’s over, and another 19 years will pass before the double blue moon comes around again. And as I was pondering this, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing that story. And how I’m too afraid to pick up the metaphorical pen now. So maybe it’s a sign, that double full moon. A sign from the past. My 16-year-old self picked up that pen and started writing, despite her fears. Years have passed and I haven’t come remotely close to finishing another story. But this might just be the time to try and start again.