Saturday, July 28, 2012


As our plane began to land in Auckland, I was hit by an overwhelming mixture of feelings. There was excitement at being back in a familiar country and not feeling so brutally alone any more, there was sadness as I realised how ridiculously far away I now was from everyone and the amount of time it would be before I'd be able to return and there was pure exhaustion in every sense of the word. I very nearly cried as we touched down. It's nigh on impossible to try and describe the emotional roller coaster involved with returning to the land you grew up in after spending ten and a half months on the other side of the world.

By the time we actually got off the plane in Auckland, I had one thing on my mind, duty-free booze. Chelsea and I were both fairly anxious to put our new legality to good use as soon as we possibly could so we both stopped in at the first duty-free store we saw. I picked up a bottle of J.D. for my mum and a bottle of vodka for myself. Being able to walk into a bottle store, pull bottles off of the shelf and buy them was a hugely empowering feeling. At this point I was more than happy about New Zealand's 18 yr old drinking age, although it's little consolation for being so far away from everything I've grown to love about Wisconsin.

Once we had our alcohol, we claimed our luggage and cleared customs. I was extremely pleased to see that my guitar hadn't sustained any damage in transit. We didn't have much time after clearing customs before those of us that were catching domestic flights had to be at our gates. We said our goodbyes before rushing through customs as fast as we could without looking suspicious and walked the 15 minute trek from the international terminal to the domestic. Chelsea and Baylee were both stopping in Auckland, so walking to the domestic terminal with me were Lily and Laura. Lily was flying to the south island and Laura was flying into Palmerston North. 

The other two weren't sure on their domestic flight details whereas I had all my ticketing information with me so I left them at the information desk once we got there. I checked in my bags, said a quick goodbye to the other two who had managed to sort out their flights and went up to my gate, where my flight was due to board in five minutes. I was, once again, brutally alone. I'm not ashamed to admit that as I sat by myself for the first time during the whole travelling process, waiting for a flight to my final stop, I broke down in tears. Exhaustion set in and the excitement of plane hopping across the world had all but worn off, it's fair to say that this was pretty much the low point of the long trip back.

On the flight back to Wellington, I had another beer and a small packet of chips. As the city lights came into view and the plane began it's descent over Miramar, I had tears of joy in my eyes. I'd missed this place immensely and here I was, flying over the ocean, minutes away from reunion with my family and friends.

I knew it was going to be a long time before I got used to being back and that once normality set in, I was probably going to go through a relatively rough time but in  that moment, I was back after the experience of a lifetime. I was excited to have the opportunity to share the new and improved me with the people who had known the old me. I felt like a much more fulfilled person than when I left, I had found a part of me that had always been missing.

I stepped off the plane and was greeted by my mother and a group of five friends who had been at the airport to see me off back in August of last year. Emotion set in again and I cried in the arms of my mother, for want of a land I knew I would see again but would have to wait far too long to return to.

The journey back to New Zealand was physically,mentally and emotionally draining. I've never left so much, so far behind in my life and it's a tough thing to deal with. I know I'll go back, I left far too much of myself in Fort to not go back, I'm somewhat rooted there. I will also, however, make the most of this brief homecoming and take my time to reacquaint myself with the land I once called home.

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