Monday, February 9, 2009

At Adventure's End

Insert pithy quote:

“A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfying, but a life in which adventure is allowed to take whatever form it will is sure to be short.”

---Bertrand Russell; English Logician and Philosopher 1872-1970

So our adventure in New Zealand is at its end. We've all but actually flown back home, having tied up our affairs here in Wellington. We're essentially just waiting for the last few loose ends to get strapped down and we'll be setting foot on a plane with enough baggage accompanying us to let us persist back in Marin until the Big Crate arrives.

The quote above works for me, because this experience has been potentially the second (or third) best thing I've ever done (next to having Zoe and Haley and marrying my wife Joanne.) I've never felt more American or been more aware of what I'm made of than I am right now. How can you really see it without putting it first into contrast with your surroundings? Thanks to having the guts to step outside of our comfort zone, we've learned where we end and our environment begins. And that environment is peopled with loving family members, dear friends, and a culture that we took for granted for many decades.

It's also time to call it and head back home. Duty (familial and otherwise) calls us back to our brown and familiar land. I have nothing but gratitude for the country and company that took me in and let me see this side of the world---not as a tourist or traveler coming through for a look at arms' length---as a native sees it. We drew our livelihood from the same springs as the natives, lived shoulder to shoulder in the drafty old houses with the natives, and enjoyed the natural beauty of this green and sodden land as the natives do. And that is the biggest gift of all.

“It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves - in finding themselves.”

---Andre Gide; French writer, humanist and moralist, 1947 nobel prize for literature, 1869-1951

There's no coincidence that our trip corresponded with the year of my 40th birthday. I'd never felt so uncertain and ill at ease with the comfortable suburban lifestyle that I'd fought so hard to put in place.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”

---Nelson Mandela; 1994 South African Statesman, 1993 Nobel Prize for Peace, 1918-

So that's probably enough of the extremely fitting but incredibly pretentious quotes. I was actually just hunting around on the web looking for observations people have made about leaving home, going off and doing something to the chagrin of their community and then returning home again. There are tons. We're not the first people to try this. We're not the first people to learn something significant in the process. It makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy to know that we made it through and that most of our community still accept us.

There are a ton of things we're going to miss about Wellington life---A list so long as to be innumerable. But as we bring to a close the "Four Kiwi Wannabes" and start up the "Four Kiwi Hasbeens" it's worth drawing up a big list in no particular order to help us remember and to call out what we appreciated the most.
  • Kebabs - in the manner they're prepared here
  • Roti - where has this stuff been all my life?
  • EFTPOS - accepted everywhere, including places without electricity and running water?
  • km's instead of miles - everything here in Wellington is close and convenient
  • Public Transport - Wellington has shown me the way. I'm a believer. I love it.
  • Slow down - the pace of life here is slower, more relaxed, less riddled with compulsive urgency and impatience---yet things get done
  • People - friendly, helpful, open, interested, agreeable, trustworthy
  • Safe - the kids can play outside the restaurant on Cuba Mall unsupervised and we trust they'll be safe. Women walk home from bars at night unaccompanied.
  • Green - god it's lush here... you can't swing a dead cat without hitting some of the lushest and greenest wilderness
  • Lamb - delicious here. Ask for ewe. Better than aged beef steaks here. Seriously.
  • Cadbury Milk Chocolate - deserves its own level on the Food Pyramid... preferably close to the bottom
  • more to come...
We'll add to that as more occurs to us and keep posting what we come up with. I just wanted to get started.

We'll also probably start listing what we DON'T appreciate too, as part of due diligence and fair warning.

Thanks for reading. It's been great blogging during this past year. Hopefully it's something we'll continue to d0 in the much less adventurous but surely just as satisfying years to come.


jamie said...

Steve and Joanne,

You don't know me, but I feel as though I've gotten to know you and your family very well during the past six months while reading your blog. My husband and I came to Wellington from Kansas City just after Christmas and we LOVE it. I want to thank you for sharing your stories with us -- it certainly helped me get a feel for what to expect. I'm sad you're leaving but happy you're ready for your next step. I couldn't let you leave without letting you know what a big part of my Kiwi experience you "wannabes" have been.

Good luck!

Steve said...

Thank you Jamie!

Congratulations on the big move. It's gotta be exciting as hell. I'm really happy to hear our experiences have helped you get your brains around the process in some way. That's exactly what we were hoping would happen when we started it up in the first place.

The blog was a clearing house for information to help keep our family up to date, and also to potentially help people get some "man on the ground" impressions of what a couple of Married Americans and their kids would go through.

The best of luck to you two in Wellington. Wellington is a great city, and has a lot to offer a young couple. We may have come a little too late in our lives to stay for as long as we'd originally hoped.

Thank you for sharing your blog with us. Maybe I can make a few comments here and there as you guys get situated.


Jacob said...

Hey I think we saw someone swinging that dead cat into the lush greenery just north of Wellington late last year. At least it was almost dead.

We miss you already! I've been playing Weezer and Foo Fighters in your honor since you left, hope your flights were fantabulous and joyful.