Well, it’s happened: we’ve finally left Arrowtown and started working our way up north towards Oz, Asia, and who knows where else. Today, after making our way up through Mt. Cook and Christchurch, Hayley and I are back in Auckland – a city she seems to know fairly well after spending two weeks here when she arrived in January, but with which I’ll admit I am not at all familiar.
The thing about Auckland is, I can’t help but think of how long ago it seems that I was last here. It was, what, three and a half months ago that I flew into Auckland from Los Angeles, never feeling quite ready, even after 12 hours in the air, to land in NZ and solidify this decision I’d made to take off? Inside that 757, I was decisive and brave and ready to take a huge chance on a country I’d never visited and a lifestyle I couldn’t anticipate. But as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac, I knew I’d just be unemployed, foreign, and absolutely clueless as to what the hell I was doing.
So that’s what was going through my head as our flight from Christchurch landed in Auckland last night: how intimidated I was the last time I touched down there. How unable to imagine what would come. And how much things have changed since then.
Since getting to New Zealand, I’ve hang-glided, sure, and climbed a glacier, and rejoiced in my truly pathetic skills at activities that would normally set my common-sense alarm into overdrive. But I’ve also actually become a local somewhere, I’ve developed routines and broken them, worked two jobs I’d never think of doing back home, made new friends, and, just moments ago, dropped half of my possessions into storage so that I can take off and leave it all behind for a while.
And so that brings us back to Auckland, where I’m currently sitting in the BUNAC office, on the same couch where I flopped down, exhausted after an international flight, just a few months ago, wondering what in God’s name I’d gotten myself into. At 3am tomorrow morning, I’ll hoist an extremely edited bag of clothing onto a shuttle bus, head to the airport, and take off for parts unknown. By this time tomorrow, I’ll be en route to Sydney, then to Melbourne, Perth, Bali, Malaysia, Thailand and, well, who knows where else?
Then I’ll come back to Auckland, tanned, tired, and, hopefully, as excited to start living in one place again as I am now to get back on the road.