Tuesday, 18 September 2018

What is home, anyway?

I feel like I am living my life in a perpetual state of limbo.  Pretty much since I graduated from uni in fact. 10 years ago.  I moved back in with my family for 2 years, which I knew wasn’t permanent, then moved to London into rented accommodation for 6 years  - the same house but an ever revolving door of new housemates.  I couldn’t afford to buy anywhere, and if I could I wouldn’t know where to live anyway – I didn’t want to live in London forever and for me it’s important to place my roots somewhere I have friends around – for me, friends make an area feel like home.  Then I moved to New Zealand with no real plans, decided I wanted to stay, had to apply and wait for visas, not knowing if I would be sent back to the UK which was a very weird feeling – not knowing if a country would let you stay there or not.  But luckily New Zealand decided it wanted me after all and granted me residency.  Now I have managed to fall in love with a boy who’s job it is to travel the world.  He has roots – he’s happy with his home country (America) and has his roots there – friends, family, culture, he loves it.  If anything were to happen to his job, he’d go back to America and start again there.  I don’t really have any roots.  Maybe I’m more of a succulent who grows from cuttings wherever I get placed.  My home country doesn’t really appeal to me to return to, even if I did, I don’t know where I would go as my friends have spread far and wide.  For now, to me, the boy is home – but also maybe I feel like that because I am in New Zealand, which also feels like home.  Mum’s always commented on my use of the word ‘home’.  I use it interchangeably to mean my current place of living – whether that’s a hotel, a hostel, a campsite, my university digs, my family home or my rented home.  Maybe this is a good thing and shows I am adaptable, or maybe I am just lazy (Aric also comments on how I call everything ‘thingy’ whether it’s an object, a place, a person).  I suspect maybe it’s laziness.

Some of Aric’s colleagues are currently packing up to finish their 2 year tour in New Zealand, furiously completing their last bucket list items and making sure everything gets packed up and sent back to the USA.  It’s making it all the more real how that’ll be him in June next year – I’ll be finding somewhere else to live in shared accommodation, he’ll be preparing for a year in DC for intense training for his Beirut tour.   We’ll be apart for months at a time.  I don’t know what the future holds really.  I feel frustrated.  I feel like I can’t commit to anything – I can’t commit to a job because I want lots of time off to be able to visit Aric in America.  I can’t commit to any big purchases because I may not have a job because of point number one, or even have proper house to store them in, or any means to ship them to our new house in Beirut.  I can’t commit to a career as I don’t know where I will be in a few years time.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t commit to investing in new friendships because I might not be around for long.  Part of me enjoys all this lack of commitment as it means I don’t need to make decisions and have any responsibilities, but the other half is wrestling with being a responsible adult and making decisions to make my future work for me.  Like an Angel and a Devil on my shoulders.  I feel like there is probably more I could be doing to ensure I have a fulfilling professional life whilst also still being a ‘trailing spouse’.  I just haven’t quite worked it out yet.  Advice welcomed.

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

What's new? Lots, actually

Oh hai there!  Did you like my little clickbait-esque previous post? Yes, 2 comments were enough for me to write another blog - aren't you lucky!

Also, Aric is in Samoa this week so I have some free time on my hands.  Though actually that's a bit of a lie as I have deliberately been keeping myself busy this week so that I don't go insane by myself- and actually I would much rather be snoozing in bed right now, but gotta keep the readers happy (all 2 of you).

A little life update. A lot has happened since I last posted.

1) I quit my job
2) I got a new job
3) I turned 31
4) I went to Sydney
5) I started my new job.

Not sure what to focus on most but lets just ramble and see where we get to....

So I got my residency for New Zealand when I was in America - I burst into tears at the sheer relief of it all.  I went back to my job and was about to quit when strangely it got better - people were interacting with me more, saying please and thank you, and I got involved in a really cool project where we were setting up a Wellness programme, plus I ran a Plastic Free July campaign at work which was AWESOME.  During the month barely anyone came to anything I had arranged so I was pretty sad about that, but at the end of the month I had around 10 people come up to me at different points to show me their keepcup, or beeswax wraps, or ask me for advice on how to swap out plastics for reusable stuff. I was really happy at this - I thought I hadn't made a difference but I did and people were making changes from single use plastic to reusable :)  This is something I am super passionate about, so may do a blog post in the future.

Anyways so I considered staying on for a bit longer, but then a few things happened which brought me back to reality, and I handed in my notice.  When word got out, so many people came up to me to tell me they were sad I was leaving, that I had done such a good job and I would be sorely missed - man I really wanted to say 'well if you'd told me this previously/made the effort to talk to me in the past year I wouldn't be leaving!' but I was gracious and replied that it was time to move on to different things. I got taken out for a slightly awkward leaving dinner with my boss and immediate team, (awkward as I felt like we were all doing it because we had to not because we wanted to), was very surprised by a leaving present of a $200 macpac voucher, and then one of the Directors also shouted me and some of my friends to a Friday leaving lunch because he wouldn't let me leave without some form of goodbye which was very sweet of him!  And then, like that, I left and flew off into the sunset.  (Literally - I was flying down to Wellington that evening for a birthday weekend away).  Well I say birthday weekend away - it just happened to be that Aric had booked to go to Beervana and to be in wellington that weekend, which was my birthday weekend, so I either had to stay home alone or go with him.  I went with him!

We had a very touristy weekend away - we wandered the underground markets and the waterfront, took a train to Petone for brunch and some op shopping (and the best cat cafe I have ever seen) then headed to Weta Workshop for a tour.  The annual food festival, Wellington On A Plate, was also on which was good timing - so we ate weird and wonderful burgers for dinner.  On Sunday we headed to Zealandia, a predator free park which is full of native birds - excitingly we saw Saddlebacks which I have never seen before! It is a good walk round the park then we headed back to Auckland.

On my actual birthday, we went for dinner at Orbit 360 in the Sky Tower in Auckland.  Again restaurant month was on so we took advantage of the 2 course $40 menu, a bargain as usually mains are $40.  The restaurant is so called because the seating area rotates 360 degrees in an hour, so you never get the same view, which is pretty cool.  I did manage to lose my jacket though...there's a bit near the window that doesn't rotate, and silly me dropped my coat there, so our table moved whilst my jacket stayed where it was.  I had to do a lap round the restaurant to hunt for it. The food was really good, I recommend.  We ate tuna tartare, pork belly, chicken and salmon.

Sepha wins best birthday card of the year award

Then on the Friday, I decided to be brave and arrange something with friends for my birthday (I don't think I mentioned it on the blog as I was a bit embarrassed but last year i had a breakdown and cancelled all plans and spent the evening crying in my bedroom all alone).  I was a bit apprehensive arranging something in case I freaked out again, but luckily all went well and I booked for Karaoke!!! Golly it was SO MUCH FUN. I had originally booked for 3 hours, but I was having so much fun I paid an extra $50 and extended the room for another hour.  Because half my friends couldn't make it, Aric invited some of his colleagues who are super lovely and really added to the atmosphere.  I got very very drunk as people kept buying me drinks and I ended up at home at 11pm sitting on the floor rocking and contemplating life.  I didn't get to sleep till 3am as I was too drunk to even sleep, so lay in bed listening to podcasts until I eventually drifted off.  I woke with a start at 6am feeling terrible and got mad at Aric as he had crashed out when we got home and stayed in a peaceful sleep until 10am - I was so jealous!  We then went to Bethells beach as I find fresh salty air helps with hangovers. (all pics below are in a weird order sorry)

karaoke room complete with birthday balloons (but i'm not 24)

I had a week free between jobs so after some umming and ahhing I went to Sydney for 3 days.  I was feeling a bit apprehensive about going alone because I haven't done solo travel for a while now, but I really enjoyed it and I think it's important I do it again some time so that I remember I am capable of doing it!

After a rocky start of my plane being delayed for 1.5 hours and then the shuttle bus not leaving for an hour, I finally got to my hostel, dumped my bags and headed out to explore.  I was right on time for a free walking tour of the city which was awesome and really gave me my bearings and a good insight into the city.  I instantly fell in love with it - the architecture, the history, the city buzz - all things that Auckland lack.  I spent the evening wandering around Circular Quay - the harbour front area between the bridge and the opera house, soaking in the atmosphere and feeling all introspective and weird and in love with life.

The following day I booked to go on a whale watch tour (it's humpback migratory season) and it was SO cheap compared to Auckland, plus you're almost guaranteed to see whales, unlike in Auckland.  The swell was pretty crazy and luckily I don't get sea sick, but by the time we did spot a whale the boat was rocking back and forth and we were being soaked by big waves so I had to put my camera away for fear of it getting ruined.  Then as the whale breached I went inside to get dry as I was sopping wet, so I missed it - sigh.  But it was cool to see it doing the tail flap thing.

That night I met up with Ben (remember him?) who lives in Sydders.  We went for drinks at the rooftop bar in the Contemporary Art Museum (ha, doesn't that sound swanky) before heading to Bondi Junction for jazz and all you can eat dumplings (doesn't that sound even more swanky).  I stopped at 10, he managed 20 before calling it quits.  It was really lovely to catch up with him and swap news - I can't believe it's been a year and half since we saw each other last! time flies.

My final day was spent walking from Coogee to Bondi, a nice 5k coastal walk that takes in some lovely beaches and famous ocean pools - so gutted I forgot to pack my swimming cozzie.  I stopped at a view point just before Bondi and out in the distance I could see 2 humback whales breaching over and over next to a whale watch boat - so incredible to watch and amazing how close to shore they were. I then got the bus to Watsons Bay to walk to the light house, and had planned to then get the ferry over to Manly and explore that part of town, but instead I fell asleep on the beach and woke myself up by snoring, so decided to relax on the beach a little more before getting the ferry back to Circular Quay and wandering back to the hostel to pack.

a beautiful cemetery overlooking the sea

quick get that girl a tan!

this may or may not work as avideo - but it's whales breaching in the distance (watch for the splashes)

Coogee beach and Bondi at the top

I LOVED Sydney and really want to go back - we are thinking of doing a Aus road trip over Christmas.

Ok nearly up to date....

This weekend was pretty cool - my other Ben friend was up from Christchurch so was brilliant to see him again - I have really missed him (he went away to America for 14 months) and we hung out.  On Saturday we all met at Ti Point where people were climbing - Aric and I don't really climb so instead we took our kayaks and kayaked across from Omaha Bay to Ti Point to meet them.  The kayak back was horrendous - there was a strong wind against us the entire time, and what took us 20 minutes to get across took an hour to get back with no stopping, otherwise you'd end up going back from where you came from!!

I started my new job on Monday (this Monday just gone).  I felt so relaxed on Sunday - most people would probably feel anxious about starting a new job, but I was just so relieved not to be going back to my previous place of work!!! First weeks are never great, however I have been made to feel really welcome, have been invited out for 3 lunches and coffees already, and the company benefits are amazing - I get free travel insurance for me and Aric if we go on a trip, there's free fruit and candy, there's discounted yoga and pilates lessons in the office, morning meditation, a knitting group, a great social club, puzzles and books in the canteen, and if I were a permanent staff member I would get a $500 wellness allowance plus 1 extra day holiday if I work there for 5 years or more - it's brilliant!  And loads of people have come up to me to introduce themselves - makes such a change to my last place where no one spoke to me in my first few weeks unless I spoke to them first!!

Anyways that's more than enough, let me try find some pictures to go with this post to break it up a bit - sorry it's so long!

Sunday, 19 August 2018