Big News (you might know already)

[Originally meant to be published in March, 2016]

I’d like to say that maybe the reason it has taken me so long to write a new blog post is because the sights and experiences I am having are not easily put into words. Language fails me in New Zealand. Or else, New Zealand is not to be tamed and confined into the constraints of language. But, the actual truth, and more clich├ęd, is that mantra of my generation: I’m just too busy.
Luckily, this week of sitting in on the Environmental Literature course has inspired me, and after witnessing yet another pink and orange sunrise, I sit in bed with the rest of my morning hours to attempt the impossible—to put these experiences into words.

Let’s get the big news out of the way: I’m coming back to New Zealand for a second year.

Honestly, when I first made the decision, it felt a bit like whenever I jump from a height into a body of water. There’s that moment when my feet have left solid ground and my body is mid-air, plummeting downwards, that my brain screams “My God, what have I done?” But in the past few weeks I’ve felt these gentle reassurances from God, that this decision is not crazy, and is in fact the right thing. I’ve reached the end of my fall, and found I’m exhilaratingly alive in a body of fresh cold water. From going out and laying on Mt Fyffe road to watch for shooting stars (and the occasional oncoming cars), to listening to my close friends talk about their own adventurous future plans and receiving their approval for my decision to stay…I feel much at peace. Round two, here we come.

I had a dream last night that I was back in the States. I was driving in a city while talking on the phone, trying to figure out where I was going while also staying on the right side of the road, but whatever I was going to got canceled. So I ended up in a chain restaurant, by myself, because I was hungry and craving a good pasta dish, with my phone out to keep me company. When I woke up, I wondered, is this dream really that far-fetched?

It’s safe to say that the majority of New Zealand is nothing like that. We have our Subway in town, and I have to confess that I can’t resist a Starbucks drink when I can find it. But the majority of my life here is waking up and wondering if I missed a really great sunrise, should I get up and walk to the classroom to check? It’s biking along country roads, past cows, sheep, horse and goats, which I sometimes “Bahh” at just to see their reaction. Usually quite startled…unless they’re cows. They aren’t surprised by anything. It’s knowing that pretty much every sunset is a gorgeous sunset, though you may be stuck in class while it’s happening, so you wonder whether to pretend to go to the bathroom and go sneak off and catch a glimpse. It’s the constant ringing of “the bell,” for class, music and musings, meals, homemaking sessions, even prayer. I shall never use a bell in my future house.
It’s a place with it’s own color palate- the olive green of the trees, yellowish brown of the grasses, aquamarine ocean bays and blue pinkish purple sunsets. New Zealand colors, I call them. Phrases that were once so foreign tasting now roll off my tongue, “No worries” and “sweet as” and “you’re got some vegemite on your jersey, ew, don’t make me chunder in my gummies.”
And suddenly, just seeing dolphins from shore is not a big deal. What about the orca? Or the whales? Seals are like the squirrels of New Zealand…fascinating if there weren’t so many of them.

In my struggle to give an accurate portrayal of New Zealand, or even just this little tourist town of Kaikoura, I find that I am lacking. No amount of linguistic imagery or actual pictures can convey the reality of this place, a place where the scenery is so rich you feel like you can take and eat of it. It feeds a need in me, somewhere around the region of the soul… a need for simplicity and beauty and life abundant.


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