This entry has been a long time coming. That’s the most I can say on the matter before I delve into the entirety of it.
I’ve had a poem stuck in my head having to do with all this. Lots of songs as well, but mainly a poem. One I wrote back when I was nineteen. It’s called “You Can’t Stop a Heart From Wanting What a Heart Wants” and it goes:
My heart can never stay still
for any longer than three breaths.
This Sunday I had no plans whatsoever, which has become the norm for my Sundays in the last month or so. Normally Sundays are spent curled up in bed, binge watching episodes of The Walking Dead or My Mad Fat Diary while I goof around on Tumblr and Facebook.
This Sunday I decided to be a bit more adventurous. I found my way to the Wellington Botanic Gardens. I unplugged my iPod, I turned off my phone, and I let my mind wander.
The Botanic Gardens are, as you can see in the phones above, beautiful. Kathleen and I had visited the gardens back in August, but even though the gardens were in full bloom – as opposed to when we went together in winter – they weren’t half as pretty and wondrous as when I had Kathleen with me. This, of course, set me on the path of missing my dear friend, which eventually led to me missing travel in general.
Visiting the gardens reminded me of how much I love going out and seeing sites and exploring them. With the exception of Beckah’s visitation four weeks ago, and Cheryl and my trip to Parliament in January, I haven’t done anything particularly touristy since I moved to Wellington. This saddened me. I remembered how happy I was taking a week off to travel with Beckah; that renewed sense of adventure that came to me like an old acquaintance back from a long trip away. I wanted that. I wanted that sense of adventure back and I wanted to make it mine again.
So I quit my job the next morning.
My dad said this to me in an email earlier today on the matter, which I found quite profound:
“We are not nearing the end; we are at the beginning. What lies behind you may be regrets, unforgettable memories and multitudes of adventures. What lies ahead of you will be something different, unforgettable and yet to be experienced. You can take pictures of your past, but you can only dream and ponder about your future. And make plans.”
((Side note: Dad, someone needs to school you on the importance of the Oxford comma.))
But in all fairness, me quitting my job is not something impromptu. It may seem like it to some, but I’ve been thinking about quitting for three weeks now. Hell, I even tried a couple of times. There are many factors into why I stayed at my job for as long as I did. Money, friendship, loyalty, pride, convenience, but in the end I just needed out.
Don’t get me wrong. I love all the friends I have made. I have loved my job with both passion and vigor. No one can deny that I don’t love Wellington with my whole heart. However, a job? Settling down? Not moving? This is not why I came to New Zealand.
I came to travel. I came to discover myself. I came to explore.
I came to have an adventure.
Let me reiterate that the week I took off to travel with Beckah was extraordinary. It was such a huge reminder of all the hopes and dreams I had coming to this country. Sitting on beaches, walking through native bush, traveling through the countryside, etc. etc. Even when I went to the Botanic Gardens on Sunday I had a moment where I was standing in the middle of a pathway, no one else in sight, and I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and just felt so goddamn alive. My current set up in Wellington is wonderful, but it’s gotten too… comfortable. I’ve fallen into that same dull routine I’ve always been used to. Get up, watch television, go to work, hang out with friends, come home, go to sleep, rinse and repeat. Isn’t that the routine I so desperately fought to get away from eight months ago? There’s no danger to it; no adventure.
During my travels with Beckah, I overheard this one girl in the Taupo hostel talking to a friend about how she and her boyfriend ended up getting jobs when they first arrived in New Zealand and how they felt they wasted their entire holiday work visa doing only that job and not traveling more. That’s when it kind of hit home. What was I doing?
I know that I’ll never feel like the time at my job has been a waste. No, there are far too many wonderful memories and even more wonderful friends to feel that way. The Taranaki and Palmerston North road trips. Christmas, New Years Eve, and Sevens. Bowling, go karting, drinking, and dancing. Office Olympics, office competitions, crew nights, and crew weekends. The list goes on. I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to the marvelous group of people I had the chance of befriending during my five months in Wellington, and nothing can ever take that away from me.
To quote one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
“Believe me I don’t wanna go, and it will grieve me cause I love you so.”
Even so, with all that in mind, I don’t want to walk away from this year regretting all the things I never did and never saw. I don’t want to waste such an amazing opportunity with trying to put a life together that I’m gonna have to give up anyway in four months when I have to go back to the States. I hate goodbyes, but it’s not fair to force myself to keep doing something that makes me unhappy.
And yes, I’m going into this with not much money and all on my own. It’s scary, but there’s ways around it. Finding work in hostels for free accommodation. WWOOF work for free room and board. Couch surfing with strangers. Couch surfing with friends. It’ll be strange doing it on my own, with no Kathleen by my side, but at the same time there’s something so invigorating about it, y’know? Just having myself to depend on. No one else.
There’s just so much left that I want to do. So much I still want to see. I want to see Milford Sound and Mount Cook. I want to do the Tongariro Crossing. I want to visit James in Christchurch, Amanda in Blenheim, Sky and Kirti in Nelson, and Phil and Alison in Stratford. I want to go to Cape Reinga, Abel Tasman, and Kaikoura. I want to revisit Paihia, Oamaru, Queenstown, and Te Anau. I want to WWOOF. I want to Zorb. I want to camp. I want to hitchhike. I want to make hostel friends. I want to kiss strangers. I want to feel alive. I want to do so much more.
As a very wise and fictional woman once said:
“I want the fire back.”
My story is not over. Not yet.