A beautiful Air New Zealand 747 was landing at SFO as I was pulling in with my rented white Mustang this morning. I was about to hit the gas on the long off-ramp to hear the delicious roar of that environmentally-backwards engine one last time, but I hit the breaks instead to watch the big bird land. I imagined it choke-full of bleary-eyed, happy tourists, returning with thousands of digital photos and sheepskin souvenirs. Maybe a few New Zealanders, hearts-pumping, making their first jump across the Pacific. Forget Air France, Air New Zealand sounds way dreamier. Inevitably, it got me thinking about my New Zealand Project, currently in a persistent vegetative state in a far corner of my brain. A sign I should infuse some life into it? Apart from a weekly kayak.com fare alert email informing me that kiwiland can be mine for $1700 + a nine-hour layover at LAX and a Pinterest board, I am no closer to Milford Sound.
There are hundreds of lovely destinations and I’m sure an equal number of flights out of SFO or any major airport for paradise, but New Zealand is my dream destination. And now New Zealand is doing triple salchow in my brain, with a ferocious intensity only matched by Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. To be fair, I may just be looking for an excuse to book a trip as I have just concluded all of my domestic job-related travels. Maybe I don’t want to think about all the work waiting for me in Cville – I’m looking at you, ever-expanding Excel sheet. Maybe I am afraid of traveling alone to a destination that tugs deeply at my heartstrings.
The New Zealand project was to be my honeymoon. Money was set aside and travel guides were borrowed from the library. Time, alas, was never agreed on. Family obligations were invoked; claims about not having enough time off. I returned the books. After a while, I even stopped asking about New Zealand. We never went on a honeymoon. Four or so years later, the money is still there, but the marriage, sadly, is not. Does it surprise you to learn that I still want to go to New Zealand? I have vacation time coming up – a month or so. And a Lonely Planet travel guide, given to me on my last birthday by my dear friend M. And money. So why I am not jumping on this opportunity? Fear that it will make me regret the unraveling of my marriage? Fear of loneliness? But what if the trip allows for true mourning of what no longer is and sets me free to move on with my life? I want the latter to be true. So. Badly. Even though I walked away from my marriage, I did not skip away into the sunset. I did not feel that proverbial weight lifted off my shoulder. Instead I sank into a fairly deep depression. Now more than a year later, I am still putting out fires in the deepest recesses of my heart. If New Zealand is part of the rebuilding, then why hesitate?
The only way to find out is to simply go. Whether the trip is laced with great sadness or great joy (bit of both is highly likely), I absolutely believe that it will be bring me to a better emotional place, one of intentionality, honesty, and self-confidence.
For now, I am still stuck at the weekly kayak fare alert email stage. But there’s still time (travel month is mid April-mid May). And exciting conversations are happening with Super V, one my high school French best friends, about meeting up in Auckland for a big girl road trip.
Keep sending signs, Universe. I am paying attention.