As Long As I Stay

My sister’s wedding was a lot of fun. Her friend made the wedding cake (with an alleged thirty-two pounds of frosting), his brother did all the food, I wore my pinkest and fluffiest dress with my matching pink flip-flops, and we took a walk to the beach as the sun went down, dodging jellyfish as we went. My ninety-four-year-old grandmother was there, participating more lucidly than I’ve seen her do for a long time. My mom looked beautiful in her purple top. I hung pictures of the private wedding ceremony in a croton plant, sort of like a wedding christmas tree and felt very crafty and cool. My sister was radiant, my brother-in-law was glowing, and they gave a gorgeous speech before they cut the cake, thanking everyone for being with them at their reception and in their lives. It was a good day. It was a great day.

It’s just…the rest of the days, since I got here Friday afternoon instead of Thursday night as anticipated, have been a little stressful. In between my house in Wellington to my mom’s house on the island was fifty-two hours of travel, including two twelve-hour layovers, a missed connection, and a dramatic last-minute escape from Dallas-Ft.Worth. I had my laptop with me in my carry-on, which got so heavy it left bruises on my shoulders, and my NZ phone doesn’t work in the US, of course, which only added another delightful layer of unhappiness to the whole mix. A free hotel room for a couple of hours and many trashy magazines were pretty much all that held me together at the end, there.

And it was pretty much all go from, honestly, the second I walked in the door of my mom’s house—so strange to be somewhere so familiar, yet not really have a place at all, because there were a lot of out-of-town family here, as you’d imagine, and the house isn’t really set up for hosting so it was a little crowded, and my grandmother needed some care, and I ran around a lot, doing errands and cooking and cleaning up and trying to be moderately entertaining and so on and so forth. None of this was unexpected, of course, because this is what I came here to do: to support my sister and her partner at their wedding by supporting my mom who was supporting her family who had come to visit. It wasn’t unexpected but it was tiring and honestly I am exhausted right now. After we dropped off my last uncle at the airport Mom and I went to South Beach for dinner and a little shopping, and we just kept saying “Isn’t it the best that we don’t have to be anywhere? Isn’t it so great that we can do whatever we want? Isn’t it fabulous that we can do laundry and go to bed early?”

And tomorrow, of course, when the idea of being on a plane or even near an airport seems like a really unfunny joke, I go to New York for four days.

I severely–severely–misjudged what it would be like to come back to the States from New Zealand for a holiday. Obviously I did. I did not know how hard it would be to try to fit everything in—wedding, family, friends, shopping for cheap shoes, moros y maduros, beach walks—in fifteen days. I didn’t realize what having a strict limit to my time here would feel like; the last time I was here I was just marking time, spending long days sending faxes to Wellington and trying not to use up too much air conditioning, watching movies and cooking dinner and embroidering tea towels, letting the days go by. I used to come home for a week at Christmas when I lived in Seattle, of course, but now Seattle seems comically close to Miami because it’s only a six hour flight. Taking just a couple of weeks in the States from New Zealand just doesn’t make sense on so many levels…I mean I won’t be here long enough to completely switch my accent from Slightly Antipodean to Full-On TV American, you know? I have been actively stopping myself from saying “Cheers!” and “Eh?” and “Yeah, nah.”

But if I stay, as long as I stay, this is what it will be like. I have to have a job, I have to live somewhere, I can’t just switch back and forth, or round and round, indefinitely. I would love to just keep traveling, just go wherever and stay however long, for as much and as long as I’d like—but I’m not, I don’t, I can’t. This is what it’s like, this is what it is, and I had no idea how hard it would be—which would seem to be the theme of this entire year.

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5 comments

  1. Also the jet lag is vastly worse going to the US from here than vice-versa! So there’s also that to contend with. (But 52 hours seems a little much. What the hell happened there? How’d you get two twelve-hour layovers in there? I’d’ve missed planes by falling asleep in the airport or on the shuttle or in customs or something, for sure.)

    Yeah, I am extremely worried about this aspect of the whole Antipodean residency thing. (Uh, don’t tell my inlaws we’re even thinking about staying a second longer than the originally contracted 3 years.)

  2. Man, I got tired just reading that.
    I’d love to hear your accent!

  3. Sending you big hugs!

  4. Hope the flight back (whenever it is) isn’t too tough on you and you can resume some sort of normality again in (sunny?) NZ…

  5. Oh yes – am glad the wedding seemed to go well too! Any pics? :)