A million moons ago we had a fitful nights sleep in Auckland, New Zealand. Since then we have had a pancake breakfast at our neighbour’s house, and wept. Deconstructed and sold the baby’s cot and our bed. Ferried a tone of furniture out to various neighbour’s houses, and wept. Sold our not-so-trusty minivan in the nick of the time back to the dealership with merely $73.20 left for us to pay on the loan, and did not weep. Almost left the stroller in the back of the minivan which would have made me weep. Said goodbye to our fabulous set of neighbours many times and wept. Forgot to say goodbye to our cat who self-selected to move to the neighbour’s house rather than move with us. Emptied out our house as best we possibly could, racing against the clock all the way. Turned away the cleaners who came at noon because the very tired baby was finally asleep and we still hadn’t emptied the house. Packed up seventy metric tonnes of our stuff into four giant bags, one carry on and four backpacks. Piled up our bags outside the house, said some more goodbyes. Texted a neighbour to ask her to empty the food out of the cupboards and fridge. Texted the realtor to tell him not to panic, our neighbour would finish the clearance. Said one last set of goodbyes (for the record this was all with the same three households) and left in a minibus taxi.
$200 in excess luggage fees and an Air New Zealand ticketing employee so helpful I hugged her, we were ready to go to security. We were so much THAT FAMILY with too much luggage and a screaming baby and bags falling over and contents spilling and oh my goodness just one step in front of the other. A sushi lunch and some souvenirs for the girls, and for the first time we felt like we could almost relax.
A twelve hour flight. As good as we could have hoped. Entry into the US and going through immigration needing to get Louisa, our baby born in New Zealand, permanent residence. All of our fears and all of the horror stories we’d been led to believe faded away. We were through customs with a visa in less than 15 minutes. Unbelievably lovely officers, super sensitive to the fact that we’d been travelling with three kids all day. An absolute ray of sunshine and a weight lifted.
A shuttle to the terminal. A ridiculously rude ineffective check in. Hot dogs and bagels in the terminal. A 90 minute delay on our flight to Denver. A certain missed connection to Minneapolis. Another hour on the plane on the runway waiting to leave. And now, we are in the air. Exhausted but happy. We’re all watching TV. The girls are watching the same cartoons they watched in New Zealand. Lars is watching his beloved and well-missed ESPN. Louisa is thankfully sleeping. And I am trying to process where we’ve been and where we we going.
Leaving New Zealand and moving back to America was this giant unknown. We might not have wanted what we had, but we knew what we had and there is a great comfort in that. And actually as soon as the girls finished school for the year, and Lars finished work for good, we started to relax a bit and have a much better time. The sun was shining, Auckland is undoubtedly a beautiful city. The act of leaving meant that we were aware of the transience of what we had. We spent much more quality time with our neighbours and we did our best to revisit some of our favorite spaces and places. The last six weeks have been tricky and uncertain and odd, but they have also ensured that we will go back to Auckland. We will revisit the good friends that we have made and we will go back and visit the parts of New Zealand that we never got to.
We have to go easy on ourselves though. This last year has been quite the venture. On the one hand I’m so sad that we didn’t get to see the whole country, but on the other hand, this year was not the time. An emigration, a new school, a new job, a new baby, a new house. Perhaps not the best year for travel. And now, we’ve left it behind. We bring an experience and friendships and a widened world view home with us. And now we have to make a new home. So where do we go from here?
The airline will put us up in a hotel in Denver tonight. We’ve never been to Colorado, so that’s pretty exciting. We had a hotel room booked in Minneapolis for the next couple of nights, but that’s ok. We’re going to try and be the kind of people who go with the flow. Maybe we will go to the east coast via Minneapolis, maybe we will come back in spring after the great thaw of 2014. It feels right. It all feels right. We’re back, and this adopted country of ours is home.
When we made the decision to move back we consciously chose to think of it as a series of small steps, one after the other. We didn’t want to get overwhelmed and we couldn’t plan too far in advance. So we sit here in the air flying above this great nation not really knowing what lies ahead of us. It might not be easy but it’s going to be good. Great in fact. It seems extraordinarily fitting that little Louisa has just started putting her steps together and learning to walk. She falls, she tumbles. She stands up and loses confidence. She delights herself when it works without even necessarily knowing what it is that she is trying to do. And she falls again. But she gets up again and again and again. And she will succeed in walking and running and living her life to the full. As will we. It really is going to be awesome.
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