Today marks one year since I returned to New Zealand after living abroad. Where on earth has that time gone? Much like the all-too-short two years in London, the past year has flown by.
People have told me that the first year back is the hardest and I couldn’t agree more. In the first year, you’re still missing the place you’ve just left – a place that had begun to feel like home – and you have to attempt to settle back in to your old life, or carve out some kind of new life in the same old surroundings.
I’ve written before about the struggles of coming to terms with being back in Wellington, and while I’ve certainly come to appreciate many of the wonderful things about this city throughout the year, I still feel ambivalence about living in New Zealand and whether it really is “home”.
This has been an uneventful year. I haven’t really made enough of an effort to try to meet new people (making friends as an adult is hard, and being a borderline hermit/nana doesn’t really help), and I haven’t travelled anywhere. I’ve been plodding along in a job that leaves me completely drained by the time the weekend arrives and this has led to countless Sundays at home, curled up with books and Netflix and ignoring the world outside.
There are still many unknowns. I’m still often unsure of how to make the best of my time here, or how long I might stay. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to venture off to live in some other country or whether I’ll end up settling down here. The one thing I know is that I’m far from ready to put down roots and get a mortgage (and not just because my bank balance says no).
There are often times where this lovely little country still feels a bit bewildering, or when I feel a little trapped.* My desire for more travel and adventure never goes away – but that’s no bad thing.
I am saving for a visit to the UK with additional travel in Europe and that provides something positive to focus on and look forward to, even if it’s going to take a bit longer than I originally hoped. Unsurprisingly, my optimism is grander than my savings account.
Meanwhile, I’m making little steps to feel just a little more connected to this place. I’m not much of a joiner but I may take up some classes – maybe cooking, or dance or language classes, who knows? So far, I have joined the Wellington Film Society, which has already brightened every week (and of course it’s typical of me to join something that involves than sitting quietly in the dark every Monday evening, surrounded by strangers). Hopefully other new and interesting things will crop up in the year ahead.
It’s all getting a little easier, though there’s still so much to figure out.
For now, it would be nice if time could just stop moving so damn fast.
*As I write these words, “Let’s Get out of This Country” by Camera Obscura has begun playing on a Spotify playlist. The lyrics “Let’s get out of this country/ I have been so unhappy” are spookily apt.