I started crying yesterday afternoon while taking down the various little decorations in my sweet silly room: the flower garlands and postcards and pictures that I’ve accumluated over the past eighteen months, the things I look at when I first wake up in the morning and that let me know I’ve arrived home at night. I cried some more on Alice’s bed when I went there in the evening to drop some stuff off, and this morning when I was packing up the rest of my stuff for Raro I started sniffling again. A. just left for the day and she had barely closed the door before the tears came–I have been sobbing, off and on, with homesickness for this flat, for my life here, for twenty four hours now and I am still physically sitting on the suede couch.
I may be the only person you know who is devastated at the idea of starting off her five-month holiday with a relaxing ten days on a South Pacific beach. I’ve talked about leaving Wellington quite a few times here, as long-time readers will attest, but I don’t know if I’ve told you what exactly I’m going to be doing for the next wee while? Well. Well, in a couple of hours I’m going to the airport and getting on the plane to Raro with my friends Danica, Raukura, and Rawhiti. They all used to live there and we’ll hang out with their friends for three days. I’ll spend another week there on my own (I’ve packed five books, as my understanding is that Rarotonga is…low-key in the extreme) and then come back to Welly to stay at Alice’s for a couple of days and take care of last minute business before heading down South with my lovely friend Deirdre. Her mum lives in Picton and we’re going to do a bit of a wine tour of the Blenheim area that weekend. She’ll come back up here and I’ll continue all around the South Island for six weeks; I’ll be back in Wellington in April just to kiss and hug everyone and then head up north, where I have friends in Kerikeri and in Auckland and where I’ll roam around for another four or five weeks. Then a week in Samoa, and then…then back to the States. I arrive in LA on May 27th and I have no idea what I’ll do after that. My calendar is completely blank after May 27th, just like it was after I left for Fiji, after July 31 of 2006. Now it’s America that’s the foreign country, now it’s Back Home that is the blank slate.
I keep going through this, I keep going through this. After the Phoenix Foundation Thursday night I was talking with a friend about finding the middle way, about finding balance. “One good thing about being boring and stable most of the time,” I said, “is that when things get intense it’s still…doable. You’ve had this reserve of boringness to see you through.” I haven’t planned out the details of the NZ trip yet but true to form I’ve got multiple copies of all my documents and money in my savings account and a selection of clothing appropriate to various extremes of weather. I have never traveled for so long at a time before but I know that the rhythym of backpacking will soon become intuitive again, that I’ll meet lots of nice new people to add to my ever-expanding Facebook friends list and that I’ll also spend some good time alone and that everything is going to be all right, everything is going to be all right–even though I have no idea when the next time I will be boring and stable will be.
It’s just that right now is hard. It is so hard right now. The past couple of weeks have been intense and overwhelming and strange in the extreme and it’s not even an emotional rollercoaster, it’s an emotional freaking bungy jump, the highs and lows intersecting at regular and vomit-inducing intervals. It’s not my room anymore–I don’t even want to go in there to vacuum one final time. I came home from Alice’s last night completely exhausted and forlorn and there A. was, sitting on the couch waiting for me to take off my underwire (“Girl, this is the best part of any day, taking this contraption off”) and drink tea and watch the stupidest TV we could find. We’ve both been laughing about how completely in denial we both are about our sweet funny little flatmate marriage breaking up–but this morning when we were both up and cleaning the house (a sure sign of stress for both of us) I looked at all the pretty vegetables in the bowl on the table and I said, not even really joking, “Hey, you know, I just thought that maybe I won’t leave today at all, I’ll just stay home tonight and I’ll make pasta with those veggies..” and she said “That’s what I was thinking!” and I’m excited about my trip, I’ve been wanting to travel around NZ for a long time, it’s an amazing opportunity to get to visit some of the islands, everyone should have my problems–but oh how I want to stay home tonight. How I want to go out to dinner at Istanbul tonight and then go to tribal jam tomorrow and then just go to work on Monday like every day, like normal. How I want to go see plays at Fringe Fest and walk along the waterfront. I can’t believe I am getting nostalgic for my commute. I can’t believe I am starting to miss the Newtown New World. Most people know get two weeks of vacation a year and I am thinking longingly of the potluck staff meetings at the clinic.
But enough of denial. Right here, right now: I’m sitting on the brown suede couch in the apartment I’ve shared with my dear friend A. since September of 2006. I’m wearing black pants from Glassons and my Fat Freddy’s octopus shirt, with the little starfish earrings my mom got me when we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium together. I just had hummus and pita and feta cheese for lunch and I’m going to make my third cup of tea of the day in just a minute; the four bags of rubbish my room garnered have to be taken out and the floors have to be vacuumed. I have to get on the bus in two hours to make it to the airport on time; I have my passport and book and jumper and snacks all ready to go. My electronics are all charged up and the sheets are washed. The keys are on the dresser, set for Lorena to move in on Monday. I am a little worried that I don’t have enough conditioner to last me ten days; Cherie was supposed to cut my hair for me but we couldn’t find a time so I have to submit the unsuspecting denizens of Rarotonga to…whatever is springing jauntily from my head at the moment. The junior-league cricketers on the cricket pitch outside my window have packed up and gone home and soon, if it doesn’t start pouring down rain again, the adult teams will arrive. I have some goodbye texts to send when I get on the bus. I have too many shirts in various shades of pink. I’m not crying but my eyes hurt a little and I am wondering what I did with my extra pair of sunglasses and I have to remember to get money out because there is only one ATM on all of the island. I have lots of lunches planned for when I get back to Welly in a couple of weeks. Whatever I do, I am not going to listen to “How It Ends” by Devotchka on the bus; I am going to listen to RUN DMC and Calvin Harris and Stevie Wonder and Panjabi MC instead. When A. left the house she said real quick on her way out the door “Don’t worry this is just like when you left for Australia we’re just having a normal day ‘m going to the gym and to get my hair straightened just like any other day I love you see you in a couple weeks this is not goodbye.”
I love you, Wellington. This is not goodbye.