2016 has been an exceptional year for me. After returning to Prague in October 2015 following a six month absence, I enjoyed another seven months living in the city and I don't remember being more content and generally thrilled with my life. Even though I'm back in the UK now, my work is still Prague based and I get to return for at least a week most months. I pretty much have the best of both worlds - living at home but still with strong ties and connections to my second home.
It could have worked out so differently...
Although I loved my first stay in Prague from October 2014 through to April 2015 it wasn't the easiest of times for me, and looking back, although I tried to make the best of a difficult situation, I don't think I was able to fully appreciate where I was and how to truly embrace what was happening to me. So much so, that when I was offered the chance to return I initially turned it down.
If I had continued to stubbornly reject that opportunity because of a set of circumstances that were no longer relevant, I would have missed out on what has become the most satisfying period of my life. I would not have made the new friends and connections I made in Prague. I would never have truly understood the peace and freedom that I now feel in the city. And I most certainly would not have felt the sense of belonging that I now have whenever I'm back.
You can rub the plaque on the statue of John of Nepomuk on Karluv Most as many times as you like, but there comes a time when you just know that Prague is truly in your blood and that wherever you are, you'll never really have left.
"Užijte si tento den, jako by byl ten poslední, a od zítra bude vše ještě lepší! Krásný Nový rok a ještě lepší celý rok 2017!"
[Enjoy this day as if it was the last one, and starting tomorrow all will be even better! I wish you a beautiful New Year's Day and even better the whole of 2017! - Thanks to Czech Word A Day on Facebook from where I shamelessly stole this!]