It’s a strange time. We are leaving New Zealand at the end of the month, and we are in that strange vortex of being here but not quite being here anymore.
Our visas are expiring—it’s been two years—and Rebecca wants to get back to her friends and family. I, as usual, am not sure exactly what I want.
Because of this, it seems we aren’t making fresh active memories here anymore, or doing new things or exploring new places.
Sometimes we have thought of going back to some of our favorite places here in New Zealand, where we have particularly vibrant memories or had good times, but we know now that it would be different or perhaps bittersweet in some way knowing it would be our last time so we don’t go. Perhaps it’s best to leave some of the memories just as they are.
In a strange way, we seem to both be just absorbing our life here. We’ve spent more time at the beach here near our house, playing in the water and reading books on the beach. Glancing up and down the beach, particularly at sunset, Mount Maunganui, where we live, still strikes me as startlingly beautiful. We hike to the top of the nearby Mount and see the ocean stretching out along the New Zealand coast, the waves plying the shoreline, and the occasional container ship or cruise ship winding its way through the gap into the port. I know the names of the birds and the plants now. When tourists ask me for directions, I can tell them where to go and how to get there. Both Rebecca and I have friends here. It’s taken several years.
Also, the process of deconstructing our lives here—house, car, job, banks, insurance, possessions—is taking a considerable amount of focus. In effect, we are doing everything we did two years ago in the United States, albeit on a smaller scale. And leaving to go to the Northern Hemisphere at the end of March, we’ll have our own version of Endless Summer: two summers in a row.
It all went so fast, the two years. It seems we only just arrived here an instant ago. Was it a good decision to come here for two years? Yes, we both feel it’s been one of the best things we’ve ever done. It seems that the older one gets, it gets harder to take risks—real risks—and one has to force oneself more. It’s so easy to talk oneself out of doing something; I’m glad we didn’t and came here.
It’s also been a strange sort of respite, a hiatus, from all the hubbub and craziness of the Untied States and the world. Like stepping off the wheel for a period of time and just living, it’s been relaxing and easy here.
We now know that there are places in the world where you could live a simple, off-the-radar type life. Could we live here forever? Yes, of course. But it is some of that same cursed wanderlust that brought us here to begin with that now propels us off again, and hopefully on other journeys and adventures.
Do we or did we miss the United States? Parts of it. Despite the United States having its share of problems, it has remained our country for better or worse—like marriage—and we miss some of the excitement, stimulation, and conflict of it.
How will I feel back in the United States? I don’t know. I am sure some things will seem refreshingly familiar and easy, and other things I will see differently than I did before. That is why we travel, isn’t it?
It will be tremendously sad leaving; I don’t want to think about it. We are planning to stop in Nepal for a few weeks on the way back to the US and perhaps that will temporarily postpone or distract us from a little of the sadness of leaving here.