I’ve said this every year for the last four or so years, but honestly, 2012 has gone by insanely fast. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still newly returned from the US: it’s actually been almost exactly six months since we touched down in London and I don’t think I can still claim counter-culture shock.
I can only assume that the reason that 2012 has passed me by so quickly is that I’ve been having way too much fun. As proof, here are some of my highlights – the things I want to remember about this pretty-much-perfect year.
March: SoCal Road Trip
My first and only experience of spring break was a success to say the least, but no day was more perfect than the day we rented a Zipcar and travelled along the coast from San Diego to Laguna Beach in style. We had breakfast in La Jolla (where we saw seals sunning themselves on the beach and dolphins frolicking in the Pacific), lunch in Dana Point (a place that held a special place in my heart after a brilliant family holiday there circa 2008), and finished up in Laguna itself. We may have been nearly killed when resident driver Emily spotted the shop that Stephen Colletti used to work in, but that paled into insignificance next to a luxurious meal in a fab restaurant called Nick’s and a very romantic evening spent watching the sunset with some illegal and cheap wine. To quote Lizzie Maguire: this is what dreams are made of.
April & May: Frat Formals
Sophie and I were lucky enough to be invited to two frat formals this spring formal season, courtesy of Kappa Sig & Sig Chi. (I say invited: we more or less forced ourselves upon our BFF Ivan and insisted he take us to Kappa Sig). They were experiences straight out of a movie – or, as I discovered to my delight later this summer, at least straight out of Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons. We ate absurd amounts of food, cavorted on Virginia Beach, ran riot in the pool of a fairly nice hotel and in the outdoor hallways of a fairly sketchy motel and generally had a brilliant time. It’s one of my biggest wishes that we had something similar here, but for now I’ll have to be content with planning trips back for formal season next year.
May & June: The Great Southern Cooking Road Trip of 2012
We didn’t necessarily intend to embark on a culinary tour, but that is essentially what happened. On May 9th, Sophie and I left the campus of William & Mary for Charleston, SC, and from there we proceeded through a series of gorgeous Southern cities and ate our weight in Southern cooking, before winding up in Disney World with my family. It was pretty much everything we had imagined it to be and I fell in love with basically every city we visited. We navigated the terrifying Greyhound system – which actually wasn’t that terrifying – and we got to stay in some hilarious hostels, some slightly sketchy motels, and most excitingly, some gorgeous houses courtesy of our lovely lovely Theta “sisters.” We even avoided many major disasters and having looked back at our planning from the summer of 2011, we accomplished pretty much all of our travelling goals and I fell in love with every city we visited
June: The J Team in Florida
I mentioned this briefly but I feel like our hilarious week in Florida, and our struggles to get out, deserve a point all of their own. This was maybe the oddest family holiday I had ever been on, given that the teenagers in the party by far outnumbered the real adults and nobody save for my brother had really met two of its participants before touchdown in Orlando. Somehow though it worked brilliantly and in between torrential rain, purse robberies, non existent buses, broken rides, missed flights and God knows what else, we all had the best time ever. Disney World may be the only place in the world where it’s entirely acceptable, at 19 and 20, to queue up for half an hour in order to meet Snow White or to dance in a parade with Woody from Toy Story and we love it for it.
July: London 2012
Without a doubt, the Olympics were my very favourite two weeks of the year. I’d been excited about them for literally years – I remember vividly the moment in my year eight science class where the deputy head came in to break the news that we’d won the bid and I’d been an avid defender against the oh-so-British cynicism ever since. Despite my declarations that I’d sell my soul for a gymnastics ticket, we were only initially allocated tickets to women’s basketball and some football matches for my dad and brother. However, by some ridiculous luck and probably some skill, we also ended up with tickets to a men’s hockey match on Olympic Park, the much coveted Gymnastics Individual All Around (hands down the best birthday present I have ever received) and, above all, the Opening Ceremony, which was 100% the best night of my life to date. There are honestly no words to describe it but suffice to say I loved every second and have relived it in vivid detail many, many times since. Everyone’s said it, but the Olympics changed this country for two weeks and probably for even longer than that and I’m so glad that we got to be a part of it.
September: The Submarine
I’d been looking forward to our perfect girly house for ages but I couldn’t possibly have prepared myself for the madness that was Fresher’s Week and beyond, or for the adorable house-bonding-and-baking sessions, or for the Triangle-Submarine dinner parties, or for the perfect nickname that would fall so perfectly into our laps (all thanks to our landlady’s love of yellow paint). Moving into the Submarine – and finally getting a double bed – was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my life and I can’t think of a better house to hold such madness.
October: Bubble Bubble Begins
Without doubt, fro-yo was one of the things I was missing most about the US. I’d become a lover of Sweet Frog and visited Berry Body at least once a week (usually twice) during our second semester, and so when a sign appeared outside an empty shop on the Exeter High Street that read ‘Frozen Yoghurt & Bubble Tea’ it seemed like pretty much the perfect job. I didn’t know, at that point, exactly what I was letting myself in for, but in October, our brand new team put on our turquoise baseball caps and our purple aprons and opened the doors to our brand new, bright pink shop. I can’t say I’ve loved working till ten at night on various Saturdays or on Halloween, but for the most part I really like my job. It’s definitely nice to finally be earning some money, I love chatting to the hilarious customers we get in, and the people I work with are a lot of fun. Plus, I get free fro-yo every time I work – what more could I ask for?
As much as we had planned to host Thanksgiving, I don’t think either Sophie or I ever dreamed that it would actually happen, or at least not with as much ceremony and as well as it did. What we liked so much was the way that everybody we invited got so involved – we’d sort of imagined we would be forcing our own American fantasies onto people but everybody was so up for it and did so well at bringing dishes and stuff and everybody got along so well and got so involved in our festive theme and we loved having so many visitors and it was just perfect – and the perfect way to kick off the festive season!
December: SSB & Festive Fun
I hardly need to say this but SSB more than lived up to the hype and was one of my favourite nights of the whole term. Surrounding all that was an endless stream of festive baking, Christmas meals, cava, Christmas movies (good and awful), mince pies, brilliant Secret Santa presents and heartfelt renditions of Michael Buble songs. It may have been our last uni Christmas but didn’t we do it well?
At this point, I have no idea what 2013 will bring beyond an 8000 word dissertation, a module on World War One Poetry, and the dreaded, forbidden G-Word (as well as my 21st, obviously). It’s terrifying but it’s also so, so exciting. Who knows where I’ll be this time next year?!