“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled—to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.”
~ Mary Oliver
I got to New Zealand with one 45 litre, orange, Patagonia bag. I left with the same. I could see my whole life packed into 45L. I survived six months with a pair of shorts, long underwear, yoga pants, a long sleeve shirt, two fleeces and my beloved nano puff jacket. My yoga pants now have huge holes in the thighs from holding flys for fishing, I lost my long underwear on my last hiking trip, my yellow nano puff is not as bright as it use to be and my long sleeve shirt will never recover from the smells it endured. There was rarely a day I didn’t wear everything in my pack as the shadows creeped, cold winds hissed, and the sun peeked through the clouds. I had exactly what I needed.
Clothes are just clothes in the end, but in my trip they were all I had. Packing my bag everyday I got to know each little smudge and each lose string on every piece of clothing I had. They all grew old and worn. I did too. Not only is my skin aged from living without an ozone layer, my hair blonder and my feet scarred with sandfly bites I also have a clear head after months of being alone and feeling what that means.
When I got to LA to see my friend Taylor and I realized how little I had and how much everyone else had. I wore the same shirt everyday I was there and switched between shorts and yoga pants. When I got to LA I felt the same salty breeze drift off the waves and through the sandy beaches, I heard the silencing crashes of the waves, echoing the waves on the Abel Tasman but I saw women in bright yoga pants wearing diamonds and looked up and saw million dollar homes. These weren’t Kiwi beaches. My time in New Zealand was over. Now an ocean away.
I left New Zealand so suddenly that I didn’t really believe the plane I was on was taking me away from the small islands that are filled with clear water, jungles, friendly people, and absolutely nothing poisonous. I kept thinking that at the end of the 12 hour flight I somehow would still be in New Zealand. My ticket and departure came so quickly. I never had a ticket home to count the days down till, I didn’t arrive with a return; I arrived with questions.
One week I was bungy jumping and hiking through valleys with the setting sun making every shadow a stroke of paint on a canvas and every mountain side with alpine grass become golden. The next week, not even a full seven days, I was booked for a flight to the U.S. My money was low and I still had people to see in the U.S on my way home. But I also had people to say goodbye on the northern tip of the South Island and people to travel with on the north island, people to see in Australia and more experiences to be created in the place I was in.
People, mainly fellow travelers, asked me if I was ready to go home. They asked me as if I was an alien reporting on what the planet earth was like. Like I was the one taking the first steps on earth and discovering humans for the first time. This bubble that us travelers were in was popped just for a second to let me out and then immediately closed and they continued their happy ways. Another one gone back into the real world to see if the can make it.
Was I ready to leave New Zealand? I don’t see how I could be, ever. There is always another hike, another river, town or Kiwi to laugh with. There is always more in New Zealand. It’s small but dense with adventures. At some pointsI felt ready to go home to ice climb, to taste Vermont cheese, to see my family, to eat local meat and have breakfast at my favorite resteraunt, Penny Cluse. I wanted home but was happiest where I was. Happiest hiking alone, seeing everything without the distraction of a companion, even though some hikes all I wanted was one. I was happy in the freedom I had. Hiking with no schedule some days and just sitting on a moss covered log for hours watching the valley seeing waterfalls, thing and long, erupt from the dense green and grey rocked mountains, because I had nowhere else to be. At some points I was ready for home, to indulge in comfort, some days I was, but not the day I left.
I wasn’t ready to go but I am ready to be home at the same time. I wish New Zealand was a weekend trip away not 24 hrs of traveling away and not a few thousand dollars away. I’m ready to come home though because I have even more adventure waiting for me. Not only the adventures of eating Ben and Jerry’s again or the adventure of eating each type of cheese from Vermont Butter and Cheese Company, I also have an internship at Alpinist waiting for me. I have my family of course and I have the White mountains and Adirondacks a weekend trip away after a year of being away from them. Time to see the Green Mountains again after a long year of being apart from them. To be cradled in my home mountains again.
Translating nature through different mediums is essential, more posts will soon follow as I creep closer to Vermont.