This is the year that started out with a squashed heart-shaped slice of baguette and the song Mélissa d’Ibiza.
This is the year I realised everyone who’s met me at a previous party remembers me either as ‘the girl with the glasses’ or ‘the girl with the hula hoop’.
This is the year I failed to achieve my new year’s resolution of learning to play the theremin, for the third year running.
This is the year I learned the word ‘le Schmilblik’.
This is the year I discovered cold-pressed homemade quince juice, and how much I like saying ‘coing‘.
This is the year I laughed in the face of the Frenchman who told me in earnest that he thought I would be his Lady Chatterley.
This is the year more people hit on my bike than on me.
This is the year I took Zinzi on her first vélib ride and she flashed me her lipstick-patterned underwear in front of the Notre Dame, then said: ‘at least I’m wearing underwear today.’
This is the year I lost count of how many times Jean-Philippe has said to me: ‘Bien, ma choute.’
This is the year a guy sprayed beer in my face at my friend’s book launch, looked me in the eye, and said: “I’m sorry, I sneezed.”
This is the year I stopped cringing when I hear Australian accents in Paris, offered two unknown Aussie blokes a bite of macaron, and refused their kind offer of a stash of cocaine they had to leave behind when they flew out that evening.
This is the year I retired as a journalist, until someone lured me out of retirement with an all-expenses-paid trip to Istanbul. So this is the year I became a semi-retired journalist.
This is the year I heard my first muezzin in Turkey and realised they are all pre-recorded.
This is the year I had a Filipino buffet lunch at the San Silvestro church in Rome, in between Caravaggios and vegan gelatos.
This is the year I went to that strange thermal spa/hospital in Bad Sulza and it felt like something out of a Milan Kundera novel.
This is the year a bartender with a scary hairdo forbad me from photographing the menu of illegal absinthes priced €6.66 by the glass.
This is the year I recited Ben’s poem ‘Liebe Banane‘ in a beer garden in Hamburg in front of a schnitzel the size of Ben’s head.
This is the year I fulfilled a long-held dream of cycling 300km through east Germany from Bach’s birthplace to his resting place.
This is the year I attended my first Proms.
This is the year I braved the 8am queue outside the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, and learned that Anne Frank did not like pickled kale.
This is the year I saw an elf penis and a whale penis in the same room.
This is the year I stopped sending Christmas presents to my brother because he didn’t say thank you for the last two.
This is the year my brother came to Paris and I forgave him for being so lousy at keeping in touch.
This is the year I learned all about phyrgian bonnets, when I was expecting to learn about how to file a French tax return.
This is the year I participated in a soirée where I was the only person not on MDMA, then had homemade crêpes with the hosts for mardi gras the following day.
This is the year I got my first stack of French business cards, with the little é in Mélissa and everything.
This is the year I bought a whole filing cabinet just for my immigration paperwork.
This is the year I started growing my own mushrooms out of a box on my window sill.
This is the year I left roses intended for the Bataclan on a compost heap.
This is the year I told everyone I fell in love in Iceland, and had to repeat myself every time someone asked if I meant “with Iceland”.
This is the year I fell out of love the night of my best friend’s wedding.
This is the year I met Julien Clerc and Johnny Hallyday.
This is the year my dad cried, and then said I looked lovely, when we skyped for the first time, the morning after the terror attacks.
This is the year a shady but sometimes scarily accurate clairvoyant named Stéphane Ghaffour predicted disaster in my future because he was looking at the wrong page in his almanac: 1984 instead of 1986.
This is the year I found beauty again in a guitar album.
This is the year I got all homesick listening to Bud Petal sing out of tune.
This is the year I didn’t wear earplugs to see my favourite French punk band and left the gig covered in bruises.
This is the year the most beautiful punk tattoo artist I’ve ever seen picked me up off the mosh floor, dusted off my skinned knees, and kissed me at the Souris Déglinguée concert at l’Olympia.
This is the year I sat next to Charb in a nightclub listening to Yiddish fado on January 6 and let him scribble on my cocktail menu.
This is the year I had to run to the squash club across the road to have them uncork a bottle of red for my housewarming because I don’t know how to use a corkscrew.
This is the year I spent, by my rough calculations, a total of 30 hours queuing outside the police prefecture for a slip of paper.
This is the year I didn’t have a bike accident despite riding, by my rough calculations, a total of 5,550km.
This is the year I finally found the recorded version of Flow, My Tears I want played at my funeral.
This is the year I stop crying every day in winter.
This is the morning I noticed a woman methodically picking all the brownest, prettiest leaves from the steps of Montmartre.