New Zealand again, still + always

In 2011, I arrived on a grey Palmerston North day to a little island at the bottom of the world. New Zealand became home quickly. The friends I made there became family. I didn't expect to love it so much, but everything about New Zealand took me in. It enveloped me. There was a spark that was lit, which warmed me from the inside out. New Zealand and the people I met there gave so much to me as a silly little 20-year-old. And I’ve been trying to be someone deserving of all of it ever since. 

I get asked often why I keep going back. It takes time, money, and a lot of effort to get to my favourite speck of green earth. Why not use those resources to see new places? Why not cross off more exotic destinations yet to be explored from my bucket list? I usually explain that Africa is being planned for 2019 with friends. I tell people living in Asia makes traveling the continent much easier, so I'm in no rush. All truthful answers to the question, but none the main reason for my continual returns to the Land of the Long White Cloud The most basic truth is...

...all these years later, New Zealand is still home and these people are still the loves of my life. 


I was anxiety-ridden pre-departure from China-- about the flights, airport security, and Chinese passport control. I was chomping at the bit to land in Auckland airport as I had so many times before, excited to see familiar faces. I felt nervous for bits of the trip, unsure about exactly what I’d be doing or who I’d be seeing, but after 10 days {my shortest return ever} I got to see everyone my heart hoped to see and got to do everything I wanted to do {which was mostly just hugging those people}.

New Zealand took care of everything. It allowed me to fully relax, and while I relaxed at home it made sure I saw the loves of my life, laughed with them, hiked in the wild with them{something I’ve missed so bad it hurts}, and took drives through new valleys with them. The rain only turned up once, and that was okay because I was in a cafe with my girl Grace eating vegetarian food over candlelight {basically a serious date, stomach butterflies included}. I write very few "travel" posts about New Zealand, despite the incredible experiences I've had on both islands because to me it's always a trip home, not a trip taken with guides or tips in mind {though I have plenty of those drafted in my head too}. 

I keep coming back to New Zealand, because the moment I watched the sea hit the rocks in Wellington, I knew New Zealand was it for me. I fell in love with the place, it’s people, a man, and started loving myself {giving love is easy for me, receiving it is my ultimate weakness}. Because I fell in love so deeply with all of the above, I kept returning. It seems inextinguishable, the love I have here. It’s inexhaustible. I never feel ready to leave, though this time I saved {most of} my tears for Auckland airport in private {progress}.  

I think that's the definition of a soulmate-- manifested love that's inexhaustible and inextinguishable. No matter time or distance or wrongs done or apologies made. None of it matters because you know the other soul. Is that super hippie-spiritual-tara-put-the-crystals-away-you’re-hopeless? I don’t know. Maybe.

But, regardless of whether it comes off as mushy-gushy bullshit or's sincere. And that’s how I feel about New Zealand. It’s a place that has fully rooted itself in my life. How silly of me to think that was done. I knew better. I know myself well enough to know that despite its flaws {which every country has}, I'd never be "done" with it.  You don't find a place that means that much to you and then cut it out of you. Coming back meant another departure. 


But I did come back. And I still love it. And New Zealand showed me that it still loves me despite stalling my return. 

Love like that is never lost. And it only ever strikes once. 

So, I’ll be returning to New Zealand again, like a moth to a flame {but maybe not like exactly a moth because they’re terrifying}.  

I spent hours in the Chengdu Airport thinking over so many, many things. Whether I'll stay in China. What I want the next year to look like. What I want certain outcomes to be-- professionally, personally. China is chaos, and when you feel chaotic emotionally and your exterior world matches that, it’s hard to articulate the feeling. I tend to put my emotions and feelings on the back burner so that I can be my most aware self, someone who knows what’s going on around her— where will I get non-processed groceries? is the bus going to actually stop at that stoplight? why is my neighbour yelling at me? why does no one else seem bothered by spitting in the wastebaskets in the office building? 

But that doesn’t work for someone as emotionally complex as me. I have to acknowledge what I’m feeling. I have to express that while I like my work in China, I don’t like the place. That while I have such a good group of people here, I miss the friends I just said goodbye to after a week of getting too sunburnt jumping off rocks. I have to be able to say I love you because saying it is important and time is short and none of us knows when we might be saying it for the last time.

New Zealand lets me feel a calm in my heart so that I can do all of those things. So I can acknowledge every feeling. 

New Zealand is home, still and always. I love it, and I feel lucky to have found it. There are so many people in this world who never find love like that. But I did, and I promised the Universe to carry it with me forever. 


I don’t want to wash the sea salt from my hair or have the tan {okay, sunburn} fall from my flesh, all reminders of more perfect memories with people I love in the place that I am inexplicably tethered to. So, for now, I won’t. I’ll sit in my beautiful flat while it snows outside, cry a few pitiful tears of “it’s not fair, I miss them, I love it”, and then I’ll continue to appreciate the challenge I accepted in moving to China. I’ll carry New Zealand with me as I conquer a life here that’s hard and confusing and contradictory for as long as I deem fit. I'll hold onto home and the love it has brought me until I go home again. 

I will be making a big announcement after my trip to South Korea with Kirstie of Hall Around the World. It has to do with the future of this little corner of the interweb I've carved for myself.