Today, six months ago, I left my homeland.
I left with a pack on my back, a pack on my front, packing my undies. Figuratively speaking.
It seems then like a good time to reflect on what has happened since that October 1, 2010 departure date and think about what the next half year might bring…
I don’t want to do the “unless you’ve been there you won’t know what it’s like” deal but I probably will so just step into the roller coaster seat behind me, strap yourself in and pull down the bar – right now I don’t know where this is heading…
To come to the other side of the world I gave up my job as a reporter, the best house I’ve ever lived at, my car which boy racers tried to drag me off in and the security of feeling settled. All these might not seem like much, and realistically, they aren’t. But when the list becomes more serious like not being able to watch my nieces and nephew growing up or spending time with family on their birthday or Christmas and having to wait for updates in the early hours of the morning when a friend is battling Death and not knowing what the outcome could be leaves you feeling extremely separated and, to be blunt, selfish.
Why selfish? Because I chose this. I chose to save for two years straight with the intention of leaving. I chose to leave and not come back for a decent amount of time. I chose and choices have consequences.
But here’s the thing: I only have one life. And I don’t want to be one of those people who get to the end of theirs and say I never did anything because it wasn’t convenient or the right time for others. Doing that would be denying the opportunities life brings my way and although I’ll put my hand in the air and admit, yes, there are extremely lonely days here, there are many when the sun shines too.
So this is what I know:
- From my window I can see the steeple of a 900-year-old church. I semi-sung Christmas carols with its choir. I have never sung in a 900-year-old church before. I couldn’t do that in New Zealand.
- I have eaten paella (pay-a-yah), a Spanish rice dish, traditional to the country. No matter what people say, authentic dishes always taste different across a border or vast expanse of water. The authenticity of local produce and ways of cooking are lost.
- I am part of a community here, with people who recognise me on the street and know my name – I’m not just, “One of those girls from New Zealand living on Tory…”
- I made it to Ireland. This is probably my greatest personal achievement while being over here, so far. It was on my Bucket List (with stipulations) and I made it with two days to spare.
- I am getting to do and experience things I may never again do in my lifetime.
Will I have changed when I return? I hope so. These six months have shown me what I have back home in Aotearoa but also what I have to look forward to while travelling. And when I board that plane at Heathrow, NZ bound, I’m sure the time spent here will have felt like a single breath.
But wouldn’t it be wonderful if the next six months proved to be even more exhilarating than the previous ones?
I for one, am counting on it.