It’s hard to live in two places at once. For 31 years, Canada was my home. In 2016, I travelled but for the most part I still lived and breathed Canada, albeit remotely. I dedicated a significant portion of every day to facetiming, blogging, emailing, writing postcards, and sending texts to people I missed and cared about back home. It was easy to do since I didn't really have friend obligations where I was. Whether I was in Canggu or Canberra, friends came in and out of my life like the tide. Staying just long enough to make a few memories but moving on with their own travels soon enough. I collected people like baseball cards, knowing the highlights – name, country, travel plans, career ambitions, but never needing to fully immerse myself in their life leaving me with all the time I needed to remain up to date with those back home. I seemed to be living in two places at once. For the most part. Naturally, I lost a few Canadian friends along the way – the connection not strong enough to bridge a 10, 000+ kilometer divide. But I managed to keep the really good ones close and I actually became even closer to those that meant the most.
When I arrived in New Zealand a year ago today, living in two places got harder. As you may have read in my blog last December, I felt pulled in several directions. My travels were winding down and while I was tired of going from hostel to hostel, the fact that the adventure was coming to an end was depressing. I’d soon be looking for my next job and despite having a year-long break, I had not experienced any major career revelations along my journey. Hollywood movies had led me astray. To make matters worse, I also felt drawn back to Australia where I’d just spent three months with some amazing people. The natural inclination was to consider going home. But I wasn't ready.
The last time I blogged, I had just returned from an amazing trip home in June where I got to reconnect with all my family and friends. I returned feeling lonesome. I realized that I really missed having people around me who knew me, who were there for me and who I cared about. No longer did I want to be a tourist. I wanted people to invest their time getting to know me and I wanted to spend more time getting to know them. To do this, I knew I would have to spend less time in front of my computer screen and more time actually living abroad.
After all, living abroad won't be a permanent thing. This decision became clear to me when a very special Aunt fell ill this past August and being 30 hours away was simply too far. With information unclear about how dire the situation was, it was hard to know if and when I should consider going home. I had just been home a month before and had no annual leave left. And while I had the money, the cost of a flight home was exorbitant on that short of notice. I'll be forever grateful that my firm made my decision easy and urged me to go without delay. I arrived a few hours before she passed away so I was able to see her one last time and more importantly, support her daughters, my Dad and my other Aunt who were at her bedside.
As sad as it was, the trip home was one of the most fulfilling family visits that I can remember. I think we all valued our time together more after seeing such a wonderful life slip away so quickly. I was able to reconnect with my extended family, in particular my Aunt Liz who had also flown home from England. She moved away from Canada when she was just 19 and although we've spent many holidays, anniversaries, and weddings together, I felt I reconnected with her as an adult. It was clear that we have a lot in common including an adventurous spirit.
So while the trip was as good as I could have hoped for, I know I will not always be so lucky to make it back in time. Even if I lived in Canada, this still may not be the case. However, I never want a flight or distance to be the reason I can’t be with the people I love, especially when it matters. So I will go back to Canada eventually. But if I am to be 30 hours by plane away from Canada, I had best make the most of it and actually, live abroad.
So for the last few months, I've put my computer down (kindly pointed out by Adrien - a loyal blog follower and one of the best Aussie's I know). I’ve still been writing when I get the bug but not to the same extent as before. When I haven't been blogging, I've made a good group of friends. I have a house search to thank for it. While looking for a new flat in a more lively neighbourhood, I went to see a three-bedroom house where two girls were looking for a third. I got on immediately with one of the girls – Kelley - an American from California. I joked that even if I didn’t get the room maybe we could still be friends! Turns out, I didn’t get the room but she did take me up on the offer to be friends! A few weeks later, the house I had moved into needed to fill another room so in and out came the candidates. A kiwi girl, Emma, had just returned from California. She liked the place and we liked her, but she wanted to see a few more houses before she committed. Unfortunately, we had to choose someone else to fill the room before she was able to come back. Nevertheless, I stayed in touch as we bonded instantly over our love of wine.
So one day, I thought I’d invite both ladies to go on a hike. I picked up Emma and we made our way to Kelley's. As I pulled up to Kelley's house, Emma realized that she too had looked at the same room and had been rejected! Ha ha ha To make it more interesting, Kelley invited the new, successful roommate Rose on the hike! Two months later, we’re all inseparable and have even expanded the circle to include Jemima – a Brit who I met travelling and who recently moved to Auckland. Small world, eh?!
It feels very small each time I meet up with a Canadian who's passing through. In the last few months, I’ve met up with five people from Canada. It’s been a treat to see a familiar face from my Masters programme, regale ourselves with stories from the political years, and catch up with old friends and colleagues who really know me. No small talk needed; we just pick up where we left off. I’m already looking forward to my parents' visit next year and I’m also making a list of things I still want to do while I'm here. It's hard to live in two places at once so for the time being, I'm going to try to live life to the fullest here.
2017/2018 To Do List
- More half-marathons - just did my first one ever across the Auckland bridge and it was awesome. I'm signed up for one on Waiheke Island next May but I'm thinking I need to find another in January or February.
- I want to do at least three of the nine Great Walks, maybe more! I had put off buying camping gear given I wanted to be really mobile over the last few years but it's time to invest in a bit of gear so that my adventures can continue. I've done Tongariro Alpine Crossing twice and can't wait to do more walks in this beautiful country.
- I also want to do more scuba diving in this corner of the world. Being in New Zealand means that I'm only a stones throw away from some of the world’s most remote dive spots in Fiji and French Polynesia. I'd best make the most of it!