Contingency

The last week or so, I guess, after I had to resubmit the visa, I was just starting to allow the concept of not going back to Wellington to lick at the edges of my brain, quickly and cautiously, nervously. After yet another paperwork-related mistake last Wednesday that involved panicked calls to the New Zealand Consulate in DC and to my doctor’s office as well as trip to kindergarden to use the fax machine, I finally got to speak to an actual person who worked on visa applications, and learned that it was unlikely that mine would be processed until after Christmas. Okay, I thought. That’s just a couple of weeks. If it comes pretty soon after Christmas then I still have a couple of weeks to sort everything out. It’s okay, everything will be okay.

But…just…I never know how to write about feeling low and sad and slow and ridiculous. I mean, yeah: I feel low and sad and slow and ridiculous. I am worried and scared and socially isolated and a little brokenhearted and more than a little broke and just slightly miserable in a very sustainable, very boring way. How many times can I tell you about the evening walks I take to the library with my iPod, how many times can I describe the long hours trying to make plans and schedules and to-do lists, how many times do I have to remind myself in public to count my blessings? I’ve chosen all these things, for this time, with the idea that they would contribute, somehow, to the eventual goal of getting back to New Zealand—but you know what? This last week or so, when I was trying very hard to keep on, little soldier, I was beginning to wonder why the hell I wanted to go back to New Zealand anyway.

It’s been almost a year since I lived in Wellington—this time last year I was, if my archives aren’t lying, freaking out about doing social work twenty-four hours a day but only getting paid for eight of those hours, and getting ready for a Christmas very different from the first one I had in New Zealand. Oh, and getting some really bad pick-up lines (although that, actually, was not radically different from Whitianga, ha HA!). I’ve been trying to stay in Wellington since two Novembers ago, which is long enough to feel like it’s something I’ve always wanted, long enough to forget why, exactly, I wanted to stay in the first place.

I started to wonder if I was viewing Wellington with excessively rose-colored glasses, like: I went out every single weekend and people thought I was sort of interesting and everything was new and different and exciting! Tim-Tams! Kakapo! She’ll be right, mate! I thought about the first weeks in the hostel and even when I was first living with A., how I’d wake up every morning and sort of hug myself in disbelief that I was actually there, that I’d actually made it. I know that I had hard times there too—not a few disappointments and heartbreaks as well as just the daily grind of work-groceries-laundry-bills that’s the same regardless of hemisphere—but as I think about it now from the other side of the world it seems like everything was all fun new friends and theme parties and interesting conversatons and face-sized bowls of hot chocolate, and I miss that very much—more than I have admitted on this blog, in my paper journal, to my friends, or to myself.

I started to wonder what would happen if—or when–I got there and all of a sudden I didn’t have any more friends or my living situation sucked or work was too hard or I didn’t feel like wearing my boob tube anymore—if the bloom would be decidedly and permanently off the rose. After all the trouble and bother and worry and application fees, after all the goodbyes, maybe that city doesn’t exist anymore, maybe the person I have been in that city doesn’t exist anymore. I began to think, in tiny temporary gasps, about what I would do if the visa didn’t come through and the job didn’t hold, if I couldn’t go next month as gauzily planned. I realized that I didn’t have much of a backup plan, and that realization was so deeply and darkly terrifying that I immediately went back to casting auguries about when, exactly, the visa could possibly arrive.

And now I don’t have to do that part of it anymore, because this morning, while I was still in my pajamas IMing a friend, there was this very loud knock on the door and I had to throw on a hoodie and run downstairs and sign for the overnight envelope that contained my passport that contains my new work visa, good for a year, ready to go. I’m buying the ticket tomorrow and if all goes well I’ll be in Wellington in a little over a month.

Nothing has changed, really—after it arrived I spoke to my sister and updated my Facebook status and ate lunch and did some errands. I’m writing this with a sleepy baby kitty on my lap, puzzling over how my new Pandora radio station went without warning from Emmylou Harris and The Cowboy Junkies to Air and Ladytron. I still have lists and plans and schedules to write, I still have sad feelings about leaving behind everyone I’m leaving behind. Everything is actually right on track, practically speaking.

My reasons for being in New Zealand have changed so many times since I first got started with the top secret plans–I hardly recognize the person writing then, all her hopes and fears about changing her life in all those small and big ways. But I haven’t, so far, had to give up, gracefully or otherwise; at this point I don’t have to consider any more contingency plans. That’s the relief, that’s what feels different. That’s the thing that’s allowing me to breathe deep for the first time in weeks.

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7 comments

  1. Stupendous! I’m so happy for you!

  2. YAY!!!!!! As you might imagine, I have been following your process with bated breath for weeks now, and I am SO HAPPY THAT YOU’RE ALL SET TO GO! Even if you don’t remember your original reasons, you’ll find a whole new set of reasons when you get there. YAY!!!!!!

  3. YAY YAY YAY YAY! I am so thankful. And believe me, that city is still there. And so are your friends. xx

  4. Like Tom Petty says, “The waiting is the hardest part,” but thank God the wait is OVER!
    I feel so relieved and happy for you.

  5. AIIEEE! Way to bury the lead there, girl So happy and relieved for you. Enjoy the unfettered breathing!

  6. I think that it’s because you do make contingency plans, that you end up having to not use them? Does that sound too woo-woo? I believe in Things Like That.

    Thrilled for you!

  7. FABULOUS!

    I’m so happy for you. Merry Chistmas from the State Department, huh?