October is drawing to an end and in less than 30 hours I turn a year older. If I were to sum up the past year, I’d say it has been my best year yet. I felt afraid when I threw the towel and left an extremely stable job. I went ahead anyway telling myself “it’s now or never.” I left to Melbourne for a month. Tried to find work but couldn’t with my visa, decided to use the time to meet people and get myself out there, met a dozen of people through couch surfing events, spent the days tiding the sister threw her finals, decided on taking another leap of faith and applied for a 6-month working holiday visa to New Zealand. On hind sight, that impromptu decision one evening has turned out to be the turning point of my life. I got back home in December, celebrated my overdue birthday, booked my tickets for the much awaited one-way flight, tried to prepare myself for the upcoming months on the road and left on 16 January 2015. I left the comforts of home, familiarity, routines, expectations, everything. Everything behind and decided to pave my own path to thread on. 125 days later, I returned home having built a new me and, rather unexpectedly, a new relationship.
I wrote this on 31 May 2015.
Today marks 9 days since arriving home to a life so much slower after 125 days of calling the road home. So many emotions fill me as I sit here trying to encapsulate this adventure in a few words. It feels impossible to settle for a single word to describe this journey. But, the quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” sums it all up pretty aptly.
Travel these days have, unfortunately, been glamourized to being about snapping the perfect instagram worthy shot, being able to change your Facebook cover photo to an epic one and, not forgetting, the spamming of check ins everywhere and anywhere the feet goes. To me, travel largely remains all about the experiences I have and, more importantly, the people I meet.
So, this journey of mine, it’s a tribute to all the people I met – the ones who have touched my soul, moved my heart and reminded me how grateful I should feel to just be alive.
Even now, nearly 160 days since, I do not have a word to encapsulate my adventure. Some days, I recall my stories like they have just unfolded hours ago. Some days, I feel like the stories are distant memories at the back of my head. Some days, I feel like I am my own superstar for having had the courage and strength to go forth with this journey. Some days, I know this is just the beginning. Beginning of so many more adventures (with you)!
I lost many things. First and foremost, needless to say, my depleting finances. Friendships that grew apart with the distance. Countless family functions that I missed. The distance, the time difference that strained us. Emotional upheaval when days aren’t even the least bit rosy and you cannot hold it together anymore, you just end up breaking down. So many such days. You question why you even begun this journey and cry yourself to sleep with empty hope that when the sun rises tomorrow things will get better.
But, I gained so much more. So much more. For a person who grew up in a nation that is a city, the country life experience with Sheryl opened my eyes up to alternative lifestyles. The cell at Napier Prison made me appreciate all the luxuries I lived with for the past 25 years. The struggle to feed myself thrice a day was so real. The stay with Rivka and her husband opened my eyes to what marriage at 50 looked like. Northland travels and all the misadventures that followed suit reminded me there are always going to be some things that are never within your control as much you want them to be. And, the only way out is to go with the flow. The stay at Linda’s lovely home in Hamilton showed me first hand the struggles of a single parent. The 4 days in Te Puke finding work were the lowest point of my adventure. Sitting in the carpark lot of Pac N Save calculating how many dollars I could spend each day to tide myself through till I get my pay is still fresh on my mind. For someone who never worried about finances, it struck me then how important it is to spend within your means and how every dollar actually counts. The next 3 weeks of work in the kiwi packhouse was just mundane physical labour. Food, work, sleep. That’s all that life revolved around. And, then came the best days of my life. I met the kindest souls, in the names of Simon and Darci, and felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time after a very long time. I could not have asked for a better end to my NZ adventure. Soon after, I bade NZ a goodbye and see you soon, spent a week in Sydney and got home on 23 May 2015.
It has been 5 months since I got home. The tears and struggles of my travels made me so much stronger than I can ever explain or quantify. The happiness that I draw from the simplest things in life now feels raw. The lonely days moulded by independence further. I value all the relationships I have now so much more. It took a while, but I now hold a job that gets me up and going every morning. I no longer have to sit through meetings that I cannot value add and churn out meeting minutes by the hour. I have friends who I trust more than my life with. I’ve got my sister flying in tomorrow. And you; the happiness and colour you add my life with is unlike any other. So, thank you for inevitably moulding me into a better person with your patience and silent love all these years.
Thank you for allowing everything to fall in place after 25 years. My 26th has been the best year yet and I cannot wait to see what my 27th is gonna bring with it. All I wanna say is, let it begin! Till, 27 plus 1.