I’m back from Europe and, to put it nicely, I am fucked up.I’m not handling the jetlag very well and I am emotionally discombobulated, possibly the worst combination when you wake up at 4.21am three nights in a row and you just sit there staring at the ceiling and questioning every single decision you’ve made in life.
Being home after 18 months was an interesting experience. We flew to London and we spent our first six days there. I didn’t know what to expect, and it turned out I was an emotional wreck for the entire time. While Giac acknowledged the importance of taking it easy, not overdoing it and following all those suggested guidelines on how to recover from the jetlag, I behaved like a complete mess. I felt like I had to do everything but I didn’t have enough time. Every breakfast, lunch and dinner was booked with friends, I had a list of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do and stuff I wanted to buy. I would quite literally run from one place to another, ticking entries off my list as I progressed.
Seeing all my friends brought tears to my eyes. It was great to catch up, to sit on a rug sipping tea and to realise that our friendship is stronger than 18,802km distance. At the same time though, I looked at them getting married, having kids and carrying on with their lives, and I couldn’t help but feeling like I’m missing out. I hardly took any pictures – outrageous, I know – because I was too busy absorbing the London-ness of it all: caressing books in Foyles, smelling curry in Brick Lane, crying in front of relics older than New Zealand at the V&A, taking it all in. I obviously didn’t manage to do everything I wanted to do, and on the plane to Italy I felt an incredible sense of incompleteness.
Arriving home was way more relaxed, and I finally started sleeping and eating again – something I hadn’t been able to do since I’d left New Zealand eight days earlier. Italy involved a whole lot of catching up with friends and family, eating good food, travelling around, and being ridiculously spoiled by my mum.
But mostly, I felt safe. When I lived in London, I couldn’t bare being home for longer than three days. I was so used to being self-sufficient, with my own schedule and rules, that having to adjust to my family’s routine made me freak out. This time round, though, I never wanted to leave. Those four weeks in Italy flew by, and when the time came to pack my bags the prospect of going back to the uncertainty of job-hunting-filled days in Wellington seemed daunting. As much as I enjoy my independence, I didn’t mind being looked after for a whole month, and not having to worry about a thing. On top of this, I was so happy to be with my family again. I missed spending time with my parents, visiting my Grandpa, being able to hug them and have real conversations and do things together. I loved going for dinner with my in-laws and I wish we could hang out together on the regular instead of Skyping once a month.
On the way back to New Zealand I cried in every single airport, on every single plane, and several times once I’d landed. But we came back to a sunny Welly, and this morning we walked down into town at 6am and it was magical, so peaceful and quiet and beautiful I felt bad for not wanting to come back. I realise this place is special, but it’s so freaking far away. But the point is that all the things I like about New Zealand are the way they are precisely because it’s so freaking far away. I know that moving back to Europe wouldn’t solve anything. If I were to move back to London now I would have a very hard time readjusting to its rhythms now that I’ve seen how much slower life can be. London was a nerve-wrecking, heart-breaking, incredibly emotional trip down memory lane – but I know that I left it for a reason. The thing is, I’m not sure where else I want to be. I wish I could live in New Zealand but have regular access to Europe every three months or so. But since this is not going to happen, all I can do is try to create myself a space where I feel happy, productive and content. In fact, I do have some exciting projects coming up that hopefully will keep me busy for the coming months, so stay tuned if you want to know more, and in the meantime I hope everyone had a wonderful break and bring it on, 2018!