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Tomorrow is the last day of the year. When I think back to what my life was like on December 30th of last year, it feels as if I'm looking through a smudged window at another girl's life. Last Christmas was a quiet one. I spent a great deal of time in Munich, sipping Gluewein and wandering with my then-partner, learning his stories of Bavarian customs and history. Those were peaceful and happy days. Not soon after, I would step into the new year, the very same year that is about to end. As I stepped into January, I was filled with optimism, hopes, and many dreams for the year ahead.

But by March, all my dreams had been shattered. A grand deception had been woven around me by the one I loved, and when it was discovered it nearly broke me. I was left homeless, cut loose from friends, unwelcome in most places I'd taken comfort in. I wandered the world, even drifted through Munich but the hot spiced wine could no longer warm and cheer me there. I searched my mind for places in the world that had enchanted me in past explorations... and then I smiled, for the first time in weeks. I remembered one very special city, filled with creativity, passion, and surprises around every corner. New Babbage.

I had a little money saved aside, thank goodness. But I worried it might not be enough to find a place to live in Babbage. And I had a bit of baggage with me too, the SS Spanky, my beloved airship, the only good memory I cared to hold on to from my past life. It had been a gift on my birthday, and the setting for a surprise party attended by all my friends. Could I possibly find a place to live, and moorage for my ship? I was willing to live aboard the ship, even though it was not equipped with living quarters.

I found a little newspaper in Babbage Square, which let me to a place called a 'ning', in which I took a deep breath and posted publicly my wishes and intent to move to Babbage. Amazingly, I received a private post from Miss Bela Lubezki, who arranged for me to have a lovely, airy loft in Her Dark Materials factory. She even arranged for me to be able to moor the Spanky overhead!

I settled in happily, and began working in earnest on building my little writing business. I'd furnished one corner of my loft as an office and spent many happy hours writing at my little desk. In the evenings, I would take walks through town, learning the layout and meeting my neighbors on their own nightly strolls. One evening, while I was still recovering from a nasty illness brought on by poking a giant monster hand with a stick, I happened to see a very drunken Captain Maelstorme Smythe fall into the sea. As brief and innocent as that encounter was, and perhaps it was due to the welcome acceptance I'd felt in this new town that had so quickly become my home... well, how can I say? I had tried to shield my heart which was still mending, but there was something about his manner, even in his sodden, drunken state, that touched me. My heart whispered 'I'm okay to try again' and in days to come, I gathered up my courage and let him know that he had caught my eye. I think everyone knows how that's worked out!

I am not who I was last year. Many things have changed me, some for the good, though some sadness is just the nature of a life well lived too, I think. I have laughed and cried in equal measure. I have learned more of the nature of my own heart and mind, and though I will never be perfect, I find I am mostly content, perhaps truly so for the first time in my strange little life. There is still much I yearn for, but I know how much I have.

And now another new year is so close I can nearly touch it. What it will bring is unknown. I hope for the best, for myself, for Mael, for all my friends. Happy New Year, New Babbage. And thank you.

December 2011

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