NZ Minus Fiji

Today’s the day. I get on the plane to LA in eight hours, and then I have a four hour layover, and then I get on the plane to Fiji.

I feel so strange right now.

Yesterday was a really hard day for a variety of reasons.

I’m all packed up and ready to go. If there’s something I’ve forgotten to bring, it’s pretty much too late now, unless I can get it at the Sunnyvale Safeway across the street.

When we got back from Santa Barbara yesterday afternoon I went to Target with Anna and she almost bought a silver bikini and I completely forgot what it was I needed to buy.

I’ve had an upset stomach since yesterday morning. Which didn’t stop me from ingesting a giant burrito last night for dinner, because sometimes I am the smartest person you’ve ever met.

I’m sort of at loose ends right now; this morning I have to do things like cancel my cell service and call this one hotel about a mistake and roll over my 401(k) to an IRA and I could potentially be sleeping right now, I don’t have to get up for a while, but I just can’t sleep.

Last night my mom gave me two bookmarks because they won’t take up any more room than the five books and eight magazines I’m bringing with me for plane-and-Fiji-reading material. One of them is the kind you give graduates, with “Congratulations! The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!” and the other has the Chinest characters for “Joy” on it because Joy is my middle name and no one ever makes anything personalized with my first name, trust me, I always look.

Last night when I was saying goodbye to Anna and telling her I was scared she said “You already know how to do everything!” Is she right or was she just being nice?

I get into the airport at Nadi at three in the morning Fiji time. I get picked up for the Octopus Resort at eight. I’m no great shakes with math but I’m pretty sure that means I have a five hour wait in a South Pacific airport, after a ten hour flight. You see why the five books and eight magazines?

My henna has faded almost completely but not quite, giving my hands a faintly scabrous look.

I got pretty overwhelmed last night after dinner. I am still overwhelmed. But in a quiet way, you know? I had a really big headache.

Seattle feels really far away right now. It’s hard to understand that three weeks ago I still had, like, a job.

Everyone keeps telling me to have a wonderful adventure but honestly, I don’t know what that means. I’m just going to get there and get some sort of job and get some sort of housing and just get on the bus and go to work and make soup and so on and so forth. Probably.

I guess maybe the “probably” part is what people are referring to when they talk about adventure.

Right at this moment it’s really hard to remember why I wanted to do this in the first place. I don’t exactly think that I’m going to go to the airport and get on the plane back to Seattle and make it to Monday night bellydance class this evening anymore, the way I did a week ago, which is good I guess. But I don’t know what to expect out of any of this.

I’ve got all my plans in place, though. That’s helpful. At least I have somewhere to go when I arrive in Nadi and in Auckland. I’ve got a whole list of names and numbers to contact.

Speaking of contacts, I have been getting some really nice email and comments from New Zealanders lately. That is pretty great. I can’t wait to meet you guys.

That is one nice thing about today: by three o’ clock I will have done with saying goodbye and saying goodbye and saying goodbye and will have started with meeting new people.

I’ve been saying all week that the tug between the desire to spend every second with people I love and the desire to go off and be either by myself or with completely new people is pretty much killing me. I can’t decide which side is winning right now. I love and miss everyone but there is something so beguiling about taking a year off from some of my more difficult social situations.

I’m bringing two of the books and all of the magazines on the plane with me, along with jammies, socks, Altoids Tangerine Sours, my iPod, all my electrical plugs and things, a journal, and a big water bottle. If only I were also bringing a first class upgrade.

I really should stop writing this and start getting dressed and making the calls I have to make and putting on my courage, which I absolutely do not feel but which maybe I can fake if I wear the necklace.

I am very stiff and sore and covered, delightfully, in bruises. I just did some yoga and could hardly bend over at all. This does not bode well.

My mom will come to visit for Christmas. Marcy has plans to visit me this winter (which will be summer in New Zealand, of course), and possibly Abi does as well although she just bought a new house, and I think by planting an NZ guidebook in the ABL bookcase I may have convinced Rob and Anna to come out in February. If you are reading this and you have always wanted to go to New Zealand, make this year the year because now you know someone there!

Okay. I have to go now. I have stuff to do and I need a chai latte and I just remembered I have to transfer all my numbers from my cell to my address book. I feel oddly sorrowful at the thought of losing my number, which I’ve had since I moved to Seattle in ’99. It was a really good number. I am not sad at all at the thought of losing my current phone though, which I’ve had since 2004 and is simply awful.

I am going to update as often as I can in the next couple of weeks and I don’t know why it should feel so strange and awful to be writing this last US entry because I’m going to be the same person, writing about the same silly stuff, in the other hemisphere the way I do in this one. I just feel so weird. I guess you can tell, if you know me or if you’ve been reading me for a while. I’m scared, a little. But I’m going anyway. I’m getting on the planetoday and I’m going and the next time you hear from me, it will be from the other side of the world.

Goodbye for now


  1. Courage isn’t not being scared of something – it’s being scared and doing it ANYWAY. This all just so, so exciting – I know I feel like I need to go lie down, so I can’t even imagine how you must be feeling. Have a safe flight, and enjoy your Octopus vacation!

  2. Me, calling out to you after dropping you off curbside and hugging you and now you’re walking away: “Good-bye! Good-bye! Have so much fun! Be safe! Have a good trip! I love you! Call me when you get there! Have fun! Good-bye! I love you!”

  3. Good luck. Be safe. Enjoy.

  4. Good luck! Bon Voyage!

  5. Have a wonderful time! Worry is normal. Don’t stress too much about it.

  6. You are so awesome. Go, baby, go!

  7. Awww, Chiara. I’m so very proud of you, and so terribly excited for you. I can’t wait to read about your new life in New Zealand. Bon voyage, dahling…

  8. I know you’re scared, but you’re doing the right thing. I’m feeling really optimistic right now that I will make a visit happen. Confident enough to say I’ll see you in NZ this winter! I’m sending you lots of love for your journey.

  9. Be of good courage. You’ll be awesome.

    Bon voyage!

  10. It’s a hell of a step, that one last big step off into space, isn’t it?

    Good luck, have fun!

  11. Bye Chiara! Have fun! Fun is #1!

  12. Back when I was a dirty hippy (well maybe not that dirty) I used to wear a rune on a string that meant something like “protection in the journey of the soul” which is totally airy fairy but I’d wish something similar to you now. Rock that courage!

  13. Even if you totally knew where you were going to live and where you were going to work and what you were going to do, it would still be an adventure, because you haven’t done it before!

    And 5 hours at the Fiji airport? Have they no all night taxis on this little island? Uh, well, I suppose not.

    Have a wonderful time! Will be thinking of you.

  14. You go girl. Have a safe and wonderful trip. Hope you get upgraded to first class.
    I moved from Enland to the USA lived there for 23 great years. Now I’m back in Enland now. If I did it so can you for just one short year.

    Have a blast, a ball and a darn good time!!!!

    Have a blast!

  15. I love you, Chiara. There’s more to say but that’s the important part.

  16. I read the label on my apple at lunch today;
    it told me “Go talk to Chiara right now!”
    Actually it said “Fuji Transitional New Zealand,” but I knew what it meant.

    I know you will have a splentacular year; all your friends, back here and out there, know; but just to calm the monsters under the bed:
    you can always come back.
    Your (deservedly) large contingent of friends will keep supporting you. Read your comments — look how many of us love you. And even our groceries remind us to look after you.

    Enjoy your adventure and
    take care of yourself and
    come back some day,
    brave girl.

  17. Me and Elvis wish you the best.

    (isn’t chai latte redundant?)

  18. Aw, Chiara, the courage looks so good on you! SMOKIN’! Rock on, girly-girl…

  19. May Dakuwaqa watch over you in Fiji.
    He who’s only defeat was to another god who took octopus form.

  20. good thoughts!

  21. weeeeee! I know I say this every entry, but see you soon! I hope your stay in Fiji is great, and please don’t panic too much because you are not alone down here, and I promise most of us are good people. :) (I accidentally typed “I promise most of you are good people” which put a whole different spin on things.)

  22. They will say, “She was scared, but dang, she looked great and her arm was mighty and her hand was strong as she waved good-bye, not like an insincere airline attendant ‘buh-bye’ but a very courageous, see you later definitely kind of a good-bye.”

    Blessings, Chiara Joy.

  23. I’ve been reading your journal for close to a year now and I just want to wish you a fantastic voyage! I envy you in a way in that you are really going someplace totally new. It’s very brave of you and I know a lot of good things will come from it. Any time I took a risk anythings like yours it always turned out well. I know it will for you too. Can’t wait to read all about it. Bon voyage!