When you’re the same human you just happen to be somewhere new (Wanaka, NZ)



It’s hard to explain your trip to other people. I email home and it’s a giant ramble of where we’re going next or what we just did or how good I’m getting at washing my face with a hose. But you don’t know how to put into words all of the moments in between each destination. And no one asks about them because it’s impossible to know what to say. I mean, my friend just got back from Southeast Asia and I didn’t ask her about the books she read along the way or if her morning coffee made her feel normal and grounded (no pun intended). I asked her where she went. How warm it was. Was the food really the best she’d ever had?

You don’t know what to ask other people, and you don’t know how to tell other people, because all of the things that are making this adventure what it is are all the tiny moments that you never expected. Like, the way you drove along the coast and were so blown away by the scenery you genuinely couldn’t speak. And in this moment, the way Mary thought you were crying because you kept rubbing your eye, but really you had an eyelash in there that was pissing you off, and because you weren’t speaking she thought she should leave you alone. So she drove on, thinking you were having the most important and life-changing few minutes of your life, and later you discussed this situation and died laughing in the back of your van because it so wasn’t what it was. And that moment made you so happy and free. But how do you tell someone that? I love living in a van because once I had an eyelash in my eyeball and Mary misunderstood. Like, you’d never say that. Instead you say hey guys, i’m doing well! We drove to Wanaka today and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I’ll send pics soon.

But that’s exactly what this is. It’s the stops for gas and being late for your kayak tour and having a wine party in the back parking lot because where else are you going to go?

It’s the moments that make you feel overwhelmed by the world and excited that you’re here. It’s also the moments that have nothing to do with being somewhere new. The moment you take your socks off after a hike and your feet are finally freed back into the world and your mood is lighter because of it. I fucking hate socks. And that has nothing to do with being in New Zealand. It simply has to do with me existing as a human.

And that’s the weird thing. You’re still the same normal little human while you’re away. You still get grumpy when you’re cold and you still have a weird need to have a bobby pin handy at all times. Your life isn’t changing by the second. You aren’t finding yourself every morning and staring at the stars every night thinking about how lucky you are. Sometimes you’re simply eating a cracker with peanut butter and feeling pretty good about it.

Sometimes you’re feeling scared. And not because you’re in a new country and life is big and weird and you don’t know where you’re going. Scared because you just saw headlights pull into the river bank where you’re camping solo and you think it might be someone coming to kill you.

Kind, elderly Owen, offering you a driveway to park in for the night. Catching a glimpse of naked Owen, cutting up a watermelon in his kitchen. Saint Jonathon the taxi driver, telling you you’re on the sketchiest street you could ever be on and offering you his driveway instead.

Flat whites. The most delicious iced coffee you’ve ever had. Considering dedicating your book to the coffee. Starry, starry skies. Coastal drives with nothing but the wind & a Ben Howard soundtrack. Holy shit that iced coffee. Meeting people you’ll never forget. Meeting coffees you’ll never forget.

Instagram wifi breaks. Laughing about naked Owen. Re-thinking your caption and deleting your photo. Reposting. Reminiscing about how much fun last night was.

Kayak trips. Island lunch breaks. Sunshine and sunscreen and the biggest [veggie] burger you’ve ever eaten in your life. Reading a random book you found at a hostel. Loving it so much you don’t even want to make friends because you want to sit in the van and keep reading. Hilariously underwhelming lookout points and overwhelmingly delicious tacos. Canned soup and wet towels and sneaking into hostels to use the shower.

It’s all of these things that you won’t forget but can’t explain. The moments that change you and the ones that remind you you’re still the same.

Cell phone chargers and top knots. Water bottles and hating when you have to write in blue pen. Black pen always looks better. In TO and in NZ, black pen always looks better. And I suppose, in the end, that’s the moral of the story.
You can travel across the world and feel things and see things that change you, sure. But you’re still the same human being. Your hair will always be in a top knot. You will always want an ice cream cone. And black pen will always, always look better.



  1. Nikki says:

    Leah I love this so so so so SO much. You’re brilliant. How you have managed to capture this emotion that everyone can relate to but no one can articulate ( until now) is mind blowing. Love. I also hate socks. FYI.

  2. E.T. says:

    What a lovely way to describe the ‘in-between’ moments that defy description and that there may not be words for. Love that you’ve done such an amazing job taking us along on these moments as well as the trip/adventure moments.
    Hee Hee, naked Owen!

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