After nearly two wonderful weeks in New Zealand, I’m finally back in LA. Today, as I was unpacking my bags and sorting through all the cards and photos, I realized that the pangs of sadness I experienced after leaving New Zealand could almost be described as feeling love-sick. I really did fall in love with the country, and I hope it won’t be that long before I’m able to return. Obviously, flying to New Zealand isn’t like flying to Houston–it takes a bit of planning, effort, vacation time and money. But at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s unspeakably amazing and simply worth it.
I had two August 22nd’s: when I left New Zealand, a few hours after doing my first bungee jump, it was about 2pm on August 22nd. When I landed in LA earlier this afternoon, after about 17 hours of travel, it was only noon on August 22nd! Having an extra August 22nd makes me happy, because August 23rd (today, now that it’s after midnight) is my birthday!
Each year, I take stock on my birthday and on New Year’s Eve, looking back on the year at what I’ve done right, mulling over what I’ve done wrong, wondering where and how I can better steer things for the future. Making today’s return even less of a letdown, I realized that yesterday was an anniversary for me: 5 years since I moved to LA.
So much has changed for me these past 5 years: my mother’s death, obviously, affected me most profoundly. But as you do when you’re in your late 20s and early 30s, I’ve grown and evolved while re-evaluating and refining my goals. Like everybody, I’m still a work in progress (jeez, we’ve got some judgey McGees around these parts recently, don’t we?), but I feel that today, at the age of 32, I’m getting closer and closer to the person I want to be–the personal best we’re all capable of being. Those little “On the whole, things are going well!” moments are what makes it easier to regain footing after occasionally slipping on the rough patches.
Two of my biggest goals for my 30s have been to build a more stable, permanent life, and to travel to places I’d never been–rather than just going to Paris and London over and over. I realize that those two goals might seem contradictory, but being in New Zealand and meeting so many well-traveled, well-rounded people from all over (both New Zealanders and expats) made it seem a bright, shining possibility. I think of myself as open-minded, but the more I travel outside of my comfort zone, the more I realize there are so many options, so many paths, so many ways of looking at the world. Mine is just a narrow viewpoint and I want to crack my little head open and let it all in. (Just not literally while, you know, plunging off a bridge.)
So, whether it’s doing a bungee jump, going on a solo cocktail bar crawl, dating somebody who’s not my “type”, or thickening my skin against negative people who derive perverse, gleeful pleasure from telling me the life I’m trying to build is sad, superficial and selfish: I choose this path, I’m grateful for this life, I’m grateful you’re all here with me to experience these adventures together, and I’m so excited to see what life has thrown my way come next August 23rd.
Thanks for reading my New Zealand dispatches–tomorrow, it’s back to the beauty grind! (With, obviously, extra New Zealand posts to come.)