I’ve been in New Zealand for 142 days.
I landed in Auckland and felt lonely and weird and so insanely insecure about whatever the fuck I had just decided to do. So, I took a long shower and drank an expensive coffee and figured it out.
I moved on. I went places and saw things and kayaked through this lake in the pitch dark and it was one of the most surreal experiences like, ever. I met people. I met the people I needed to meet and some of them were cool and some of them were boring and it didn’t matter because it was just what it was supposed to be at the time.
I met people and we talked about life. We talked about feeling liberated and feeling scared and what made us happy. We talked about Candy Crush. About how dirty that hostel kitchen was. About the new episode of GOT.
Just kidding. I never talked about that once but everyone else did so here is my final attempt at trying to fit in.
You thought about things you’d never ever considered this much before – like the best shower you had yet. The one where the water pressure was good and they had a shelf for you to put your shampoo on and there was enough room in the stall that you could comfortably get dressed right after. I have never ever in my life thought this much about my perfect shower and now it’s not only something you think about but something worth discussing with multiple people on multiple occasions.
You discover new things – be it parts of yourself or beautiful places or simply new TV shows. And I love thinking about that; thinking that every time I watch Louis CK from now on I’ll think of Olly and how he introduced me to this brilliancy over two large pizzas. How you can associate parts of your trip by the books you read; by the songs you heard. How my first John Grisham was when I was stranded in Paihia; how I’ll never hear the words ‘work work work work work’ and not think of Rainbow Lodge.
It feels very strange to think about life immediately before this; to look back on those few days right before I came here. The last minute snowfall and the goodbye beers and hugging him and hugging her and hugging him once more. It feels like forever ago – and at the same time, it’s hard to believe this much time has passed. That there was a point in time where ‘going to New Zealand’ was this surreal thing I was supposedly doing in a couple months. That it was nothing more than a flight notification in my Google calendar and a ready-to-go travel sized hair dryer.
It went from that, to being over. Like, I did it already. I lived the flight notification and brought my travel sized hair dryer to the other side of the world. And not once did I use it. But here we are anyway, and now it’s time for something new, and that’s so fucking weird to wrap my head around.
I feel ready. And maybe it’s because I am leaving – there’s a plane booked and a destination to head to – that my brain feels ready for the next thing. And maybe it’s because there are so many ballin’ people on the other side that are getting me excited about what’s to come that I feel ready for it. But ready or not, there is still a very real and very unexplainable sadness at having to say goodbye to this. To this place and the people that made this place everything it was. That it’s over. That despite having friendships that I truly believe will last for years to come, this is over. This little home where we all lived and cooked and planned our lives at. Where it was so easy to recognize whose laundry was still in the machine because we all wore the same thing every day. Willem and that jersey. Marie and that yellow coat. This is over – and even if we all came back, it could never be this again. And that sucks. But at the same time, it’s such a perfect time to end; in this lovely, blissful state where everything is inspiring and everyone is kind and everything feels right. This is how I’ll always remember it.
For 142 days I lived in New Zealand; in a place where peppers were capsciums and things weren’t just sweet, they were ‘sweet as’. Where you didn’t have a Debit but an Eftpos card. Where pumpkins were only orange on the inside and pies were filled with meat instead of fruit. It was a place where so many things felt new and so many things felt normal and my hair was always in a bun.
For 142 days I lived in New Zealand, and in a lot of ways nothing mattered. Time didn’t matter and clothes didn’t matter and you just existed within this mentality of taking life as it came and living for yourself. But at the same time, everything mattered. Every coffee you drank and sunset you watched and/or missed because you fell asleep on the couch; every morning you woke up feeling shitty and unappreciative and ended up napping on Jess’ dog bed talking to Christine about life and boys. It was all part of it, and never before had you been so aware of how you felt and what made you feel happier; all of the seemingly meaningless moments that simultaneously didn’t matter and mattered so hard.
And sure – people do way bigger, braver things for way longer time periods than living in another English-speaking country for a few months. But whatever. This is what I did and I feel. So. Fucking. Proud.
And I should feel so fucking proud! And no, I don’t feel like I’m going home a changed person. I don’t think my entire life will be different and I’ll exist in this weird cloud of feeling free and inspired 24/7. What I think will happen is I’ll go back to Toronto. I’ll go out for drinks and I’ll stress about how much money I spent and I’ll feel sad that her clothes are nicer than mine. I’ll worry about my hair and I’ll forget that there are more important things in life than that jacket I saw. I’ll accidentally get drunk and makeout with someone I don’t want to makeout with. Life will continue to be full of bullshit and weird, awkward moments and emotions I don’t want to have. Travelling didn’t “change me”. I’m still irrational and impatient and scared of literally everything. But it impacted me in so, so many ways. It changed how I saw so many things. And it’s something I’ll always, always have it to go back to; that time in NZ, when I fully knew I was beautiful and wonderful and life was happening exactly how it should.
For 142 days I lived in New Zealand. And I will always hold on to that; to turning 27 and hopping a plane. To watching the world become bigger in some ways and smaller in others. To feeling so insanely wild and free. To becoming best friends with a backpack. And to understanding that life is weird and hard and tiring and lovely.
AHHH! THANK YOU everyone for everything. From the endless pints of Tui to BP pies and the coldest mornings ever. It has been an absolute. Mother. Fucking. Honour.
Until the next one <3