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Thirty-four revolve around the sun. Wow, where time flies. It feels like I was a fresh 21-year-old yesterday who started this blog to document my travels. Thirteen years later, I still feel like I do not know what I’m doing, just a little more confident.
Recently I was chatting with friends and someone asked if we could go back to any age what it would be. For some reason, this has stuck in my head and my response has not changed. I would not go back. I have enjoyed many moments in my life, some years far better than others, but none remarkable enough worth repeating.
There is no amount of money I could be paid to go back to high school. Remembering my twenties makes me so tired – where did all that energy and tolerance for booze come from? I feel that each age is unique and important, and I look forward to being 34. I feel I have become more confident in who I am and what I want.
My need to please others has sat in the back seat as I try to put myself completely and utterly first. So far, so good.
It’s also six months ago with brideand my life turned upside down – six months with a broken heart or maybe six months with growth, resilience and optimism.
I suppose life is about perspective and I have really enjoyed challenging myself to acknowledge my sorrows (fuck you, heartache) and reformulate my anguish (hmm, maybe that was a good thing for me?). Although I’m not in the place that I imagined I would be at this moment in my life, I suppose the path I’m on is right.
Sometimes it’s hard to feel positive when you feel like a mess. My life spans two continents, among storage units, friends’ garages, and my car. I have no idea what the hell I’m going to do with myself. In many ways, I have struggled to “move on” because I have a hard time letting go of “what could have been.” I was expecting to work on buying a house with my running partner NOTE personally, raising chickens and children and planning this new chapter of my life.
Now it does not happen, it feels like something else is going backwards, a direction I really do not want to travel in.
In late March, I traveled New Zealand for the first time in two and a half years to travel back to see my family on the east coast of the United States. I can not even begin to explain what it meant to me, especially after grief and loss of my stepfather.
I achieved about three things while I was in the United States for five weeks: family time, dining out, and finishing my book. Yes, I wrote a book, something that has definitely consumed me for the last four months. But more on that coming soon.
I spent endless days leaning over my mom’s couch, wearing the same pajamas and a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch balanced on my stomach while As time goes by played quietly on TV. I feel 17 again, and not in a good way. At this point in my life, I thought I would come back here with a partner and a plan.
Damn. This did not feel like a success. In fact, it makes me feel like one total failure.
But maybe this is exactly where I need to be. I have been pushing myself for over a decade. And I’ve had a couple of tough years where I’ve lost my stepfather, some insane life-changing family relationships, been stuck behind a closed border, and then made my relationship and my life implode, just when I thought I managed it. Oh, and COVID.
I’ll survive. I can sit in these murky waters while I figure out what to do next. Uncertainty does not have to be bad, does it? We have been conditioned to believe that we must follow the formula to thrive, be happy, and have a plan. I’m learning that it’s ok to be unbound. We’re just out here surviving.
Even now I have to remind myself not to compare myself to other people on the internet. If I think deeply, I’m happy here on the couch, with my mom, in my old pajamas. These sore moments are everything. They are what really heals the heart. Let us remember to be kind to ourselves. We need it.
I have been back in New Zealand for almost a month.
I have spent almost half of my life as an American posted abroad. For the first time in a very long time, I did not want my trip to the United States to be over. It’s been years since I was with my family because of New Zealand’s closed borders. I understand why they did it, but I do not think how they did it with MIQ was ethical. In fact, I think it was cruel. I believe that the collective trauma from it is unmanageable.
Lately, I have found that I dwell a lot on the idea of home.
When I say home, do I mean home in Virginia, where I grew up, or do I mean home here in New Zealand, where I have lived for a decade? I actually do not know. Perhaps it is the privilege of expatriates who always have our feet in two worlds. When I’m in New Zealand, I sound American. When I’m in America, I sound like a kiwi. It’s a beautiful thing to have the privilege of two countries, but it’s also challenging.
Do I belong to both, or do I belong to neither of them? I guess it depends on my mood.
Here the days get crispier and the sun disappears at 5pm.
Winter is on its way to Wanaka and for the first time in a long time I am considering skipping it. I do not have a specific place to live; I have my current Wanaka apartment until July 1st. Do I find a long term rent in Wanaka while saving up for a house? How about returning to Lyttelton and throwing myself back in my plant store, NODE? Or should I fuck abroad for a few months and seek sunny shores and bigger influencer pay? Am I going back to my family in the US for a while?
Do not get me wrong, I love winter and I’m excited to be back by the mountains; I’ve always been a girl with four seasons. But my life is still very much in limbo. I usually have a pretty clear path I follow.
With my anxiety, I have learned to make decisions quickly so I do not end up in limbo, which stresses me out. But I’ve been in limbo since my breakup in November, and I still do not know which direction to go! Usually this is not something I would have shared in the past, but I have decided to be open about it so others can relate to my struggles.
You’re not alone.
It’s been six months since I felt lost.
I’m trying to figure out what to do. I think I’m still coming to terms with having the rug pulled out from under me. I am a homemaker and introvert, and it has always been so important to me to have a safe, comfortable place at home that I can retire to. I thought I had, but it disappeared and I find that I do not have the energy or the will to rebuild it on my own right now, even though I long for a routine.
Should I keep my things and try to see this freedom as an opportunity? Am I admitting to myself that my old life is gone and that it’s time to build a new one? Being detached both sucks and is wonderful at the same time. I just hope the right opportunity presents itself soon. And trust in the process. If this is not a test of growing up, I do not know what is.
And if you can afford some lost hikers like me or can afford to turn 34? I would love to hear that.