Welcome to another guest post! Hope you had a great weekend. This writer you’ve met before, last week. Victoria Wright, intrepid explorer of New Zealand, is back again today for the second half of her adventures. Ever wander what it would be like to travel to New Zealand? Here are some ideas for you!
Oh, and if you like flash fiction that makes you think, go check out Victoria’s short stories on EtherBooks (look for Victoria Wright).
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So, I was off for a year to New Zealand. That was the plan and the visa arriving in the post was confirmation that my online transaction had actually worked and it wasn’t a scam or a dream. Now I had a couple of things to sort out. Firstly, it was emailing Ian. Ian was a horseman who ran a trekking place in Waipu (why-poo). It’s just a farm now I think, but more on him later. Secondly, was telling the boyfriend, my first love, the boy who I promised to be with forever and ever. More on that later too. Thirdly, was the pleasure of telling work, although that later has a story of its own too.
I was so excited and slightly bewildered that no one, for the first time in my life questioned me, no one doubted me, no one said ‘no’. I was making my own decisions, had my own money and not a care in the world. I truly felt free. Incredible at 18. I never wanted to go to university and understood what it was to work hard, I’d had three jobs on the go the summer previous and my first was when I was 14 and got paid £2.50 an hour. Anyway, when I received my visa I booked my flight, it was a return ticket for a year exactly, for a month away. I thought that would give me time to sort out all the essentials.
I emailed Ian and asked if I could go and work/help him with the running of his farm and trekking business and he replied very quickly saying ‘yes!’ That’s all I needed, it was perfect and everything felt like it was meant to be. I knew Ian fairly well as I went there for a trek nearly every holiday as I’m a horse rider. Although the English ridged style wasn’t quite acceptable over there. That was nice though, riding through streams on a loose rein and up mountains that I wouldn’t of even considered on foot. The hills led to more hills and the odd bull would appear in the shade of a woody area. Surprisingly not so many sheep on his farm but plenty of cows.
I told the boyfriend, he didn’t seem to mind, he said he might come out and see me at Christmas. He didn’t.
I told work, they were mostly older women, they were so excited for me. Looking back now, maybe it was because they wish they could have done the same and felt they were kind of on the journey with me. They bought me lovely leaving gifts and a huge teddy. It was lovely, funny how leaving a place you sometimes feel that you actually belonged there a bit.
So, I was off. I was driven to the airport by my parents and the boyfriend came too. I was super excited happy, buzzing. I think now I was completely unaware of what I was actually doing. I remember the journey being quiet and the boyfriend chewing the cap of a coke bottle, his teeth rasping on its grippy edge. I have no memory then until it comes to the almighty goodbyes. Goodbyes haven’t been a problem for me before, nor since. Everyone started to cry, even my dad was holding onto some tears but there was a lot of pride from my parents. The boyfriend was really upset, which is odd now again on reflection. I left them through the departures hole in the wall. Then I went and sat, alone, with a little gift bag my mom just gave me. I read the note inside and the floodgates opened. I didn’t stop crying all the way to Auckland airport arrivals when my Uncle and Aunt greeted me. When I boarded in London an air stewardess thought I was scared of flying, I was that much of a mess, tears, hyperventilating, skin all itchy and blotchy. Nightmare. I kept saying ‘what am I doing, why am I doing this, I’m leaving everyone I love, I’m an idiot’.
The drive from Auckland to Whangarei (ph-ong-ar-ray) where my family live is about two hours. It was as always a lovely drive and I did feel like I was home, as I’d been so many times before. I spent the next week with my family before moving out to Waipu. It was hell. Ian’s family, wife and kids, were living in the house where I was to stay and he was living above the stables. They had recently separated. The cows had just recently been separated also from their young, so all night long was a constant mooing as if I had them in my room, it was an old wooden house, no insulation. This also meant it was freezing and as I arrived in winter it was windy and the roof felt like it was going to blow off at any second. It felt a bit like I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. I stared at my photo of my boyfriend and I and sobbed some more, I told the picture ‘I miss you’ a thousand times, it was a less than ideal situation and my homesickness/longing for my boyfriend that led me to pay £400 to get a new ticket, one way this time, home in 6 weeks. So much for a year! I stuck it out for about 4 days on the farm, the rest of my stay I went travelling around the whole of North Island via bus staying at backpackers and visiting friends. I made no new friends. I hated my nights in hostels. I did love the bus though, and the view from the window and the feeling of having people around me still, even if I didn’t talk to them. I almost did once, but I missed my chance.
I arrived home 6 weeks after my departure, my boyfriend wasn’t as pleased to see me as I expected and we broke up shortly after. I avoided going to town so people from my old job wouldn’t know I was home already. I felt like I had let my parents down by not sticking to it.
However, I am so glad I did it, even though I thought it a failure at the time, I would do it all over again. Although maybe I wouldn’t come home as soon, I should of maybe got a job in a shop or something, but no one suggested that and I couldn’t see past my failed attempt at being on a farm at the time.
The whole experience has truly made me who I am today, my defining moment. It made me super confident, even though at the time I might not had felt it, it was a growing process, I learnt how to cope with new emotions, being alone, making decisions; financial, emotional, long term and short term ones. When I got back I didn’t know what to do, but I wasn’t afraid anymore, I knew that whatever happened, I’d always be ok and be able to make new choices and go in whatever direction I wanted. There are no mistakes, it’s just called living!