Sunday, July 20, 2008

A first in a bit of catching up

To get back into the swing of updating my blog, I’ll have to gloss over the past… what 18 months?

Well back in May of 2007, I did my “surprise” visit to the states. I had it in my head that I wanted to be out of the US on my own for a good chunk of time to prove my “expat credentials” (something that feels a bit ridiculous now). I had visited for a couple days for my sister Audrey’s graduation, but this was my first proper visit home. My first visit back to Austin to see my friends, back to see my 4 week old nephew Achilles, and spend 5 weeks back in the states.

I’m ashamed to say my carbon footprint was a bloody atrocity:

WLG→AKL→LAX→SFO→APA→AUS→ATL→PHL→NYC→PHL→ATL→CRP→MIA→SJU→SIG→VQS→SIG→SJU→MIA→CRP→AUS→APA→LAX→AKL→WLG (okay, I drove to New York but bloody hell that was a lot of peanuts – oh wait we don’t get those any more)

I started the trip in San Francisco and had a blast with Matt and Jessica, visiting one of my favourite US cities where I especially dug just hanging out with Matt and Jess. Our trip to the Tourist Club in the Muir Wood didn’t do anything to dampen my spirits though, then again neither did the visits to wicked cheese and chocolates shops ☺

Then I made my way to Austin and caught up with the old gang, fell in love as soon as I meet my nephew, and tried to eat my weight in Mexican food and BBQ. By the way, I’d never felt as impressed by anyone as when I saw my brother slip on fatherhood like a custom Italian suit – he wears it effortlessly and passionately.

Then it was off to visit my Mom in PA including a trip to NYC where I spent like I was a millionaire, a habit that will just about guarantee I won’t be one anytime soon. Off all places, I bought my alpine climbing gear in the south of Manhattan. I was impressed no one arrested me for cruising on the subways with ice axes strapped to my backpack – implements that would make perfect props for a horror flick.

After giving my Mom a hug goodbye, it was off to Rockport, TX where with the help of my step-mom Jane I was snuck into my Dad’s clinic as his last patient of the day – the surprise went off without a hitch! (I’m just glad I didn’t give him a heart attack) I only told my mom I was coming the day I left New Zealand, a requirement if I was going to be able to see her.

After a few days in Rockport I was off to Puerto Rico to have a “little holiday from my holiday”. A beautiful place, incredible water, and gorgeous people, what more could you want in a beach holiday? The museum hotel (a recommendation from Kit and Linda) was fantastic. My only complaint with Puerto Rico is that it is RIDICULOUSLY over-priced. Sure it was great, but no nicer than any Mexican beach on the Caribbean, or really any other beaches on the Caribbean, or Fiji, Tonga, Indonesia, Australia’s West coast, the South of Thailand, the Cook Islands – but it was an order of magnitude more expensive than any other beach destination to which I’ve been. For that matter the place we stayed, which again was “nice” but by no means incredible, was more expensive then the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan where I had stayed a week before. And at the Waldorf they didn’t try to charge you $40 to use the gym for half an hour.

That rant over, it was awesome hanging out with my bud Tamara – one of those folks that always blows me away with their level of certainness and self-confidence. Combine a wicked level of knowledge with a real passion for her opinions and some wonderfully “passionate” discussions dotted the week. We did end up end on the island of Vieques for the majority of the time and it was awesome!

Then an unwinding of travel plans with a return to Corpus, a drive to Austin, some late nights out with Julie and Jess before flying from Austin to Denver, then LAX, then Auckland, and finally Wellington to get back to my life in New Zealand.

I remember often referring to New Zealand as “home” during that trip to visit my family, and shouldn’t the location of family define home? Every time I called New Zealand home I cringing inside from guilt – it’s on odd thing that I feel my jaunts overseas are so selfish and I’m somehow failing to honour my family or meet my responsibility to them. I only feel this responsibility intuitively though, because logically I would say that my responsibility to my family is to make the most of my life, therefore honouring the sacrifice my family made to support and foster my development throughout my youth - enabling me to make the most of this life. After all if you send a painter to art school, would you not expect him or her to go on and then push the boundaries and try new things? If that painter only repeated what had been done before, wouldn’t art school have been a bit of a waste? Not that my life is some “masterpiece”, but I do want to push boundaries and do things that are harder, because I have this notion that when you struggle you are making the most of life. So here’s to living a life that ends with scars of the skin and heart, because that’s a life lead to it’s fullest!

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