I was freed from the confines of MIQ (managed isolation and quarantine) nearly two weeks ago, on Friday 21 January, having spent 10 days in a room, with no opening window and only 30 minutes of fresh air a day. It was a strange experience to be on my own and between the two families and places I love so much, my family in England and my whanau in New Zealand. The last few days of isolation left me feeling lethargic and apathetic, craving fresh air, nature and company. When my fourth and final covid-19 test came back negative, on day 8, I was ecstatic to be given the all clear to be released on day 10.
After a scenic plane ride down to Wellington, I was finally reunited with my husband, three daughters and dog, after four months apart. It was a glorious sunny day to fly into Wellington and after leaving the airport we stopped for a drink at the Spruce Goose, in Lyall Bay, so I could inhale that sea air and feel the Vitamin D on my skin.
I arrived in time for the Wellington Anniversary Weekend, a long weekend, and the weather put on a beautiful show. I spent the weekend soaking up all the summer vibes, swimming in the sea, sunset walks, playing corn hole, board games with my family and a drive over to the wine village of Martinborough, where I swam in the river.
It feels like a dream to be back. I keep pinching myself that I’m here. A complete change of scene feels like the perfect antidote to the grief of losing my dear Mum. Being immersed in a busy family home gives me little time to think and of course the weather is giving out all those seretonine boosting highs, but I do catch myself at times – as though I’m living in some paralell universe – feeling a sense of disconnection from another self that was living a different life only a couple of weeks ago (and of course that other self is still very real, just pushed to one side for a moment, whilst I enjoy the first couple of weeks of being back).
There’s an underlying sense of guilt that I should be feeling so happy (though of course that’s silly) but I do wish I could have brought my Dad back on the plane with me to New Zealand – as what I’m experiencing right now would be so good for him. I will be so happy when my Dad and sister can visit us here again – and looking at today’s news that is now looking very possible!
At the moment, writing this post feels all wrong – it’s such a differnt tone to the one I was writing a few weeks ago, but there are highs with the lows and this is a post of all the good bits – the reunion with my family and dog, exchanging winter in England for summer in New Zealand and reconnecting with friends here in Wellington. I am cherising these happy feelings, as I can feel grief bubbling beneath the surface of my every move – just waiting its time like a dormant volcano. I’ve arrived back at the end of the long summer holidays, there is not yet the rush to be places by a certain time, everyone is in holiday mode.
I honestly can’t believe how much I’ve done since I’ve been back. I had forgotten, momentarily, how many different activities there are in Wellington and how close together they all are – in one day I was swiming in the sea, out on the paddle board, watching dolphins in the local bays, playing 9 holes of golf with friends and visiting an art gallery. I feel like I’ve been holidaying at home.
Whilst the summer weather and light evenings stay with us for another month or two, our days start to turn back to focusing on a new academic year. Our oldest daughter heads off to Melbourne University on 14 February and we will all miss her so much. She’s had such a busy and successful gap year, gaining valuable work experience (and earning some funds for student life!), and has blossommed into an incredible person who is such great company and fun to hang out with (I will be doubly grieving when she goes – my first ‘baby’ to fly the nest!).
Our second born daughter is heading into year 12 of high school, after a sucessful year 11. She starts back next week, but has started back with her free running classes this week, as well as coaching little’uns 6 hours a week at the gym. Our youngest turns 12 this month and I was in shock when she met me at the airport – as she grew at least another inch whilst I was away! She is having one more year of home ed, before trying high school in year 9 in 2023 (for my friends in the UK the NZ system is a little different – students here start ‘college’ in year 9 and stay there till they finish in year 13).
So, it’s time to get back into routines, whilst still feeling a little disjointed and as though I’ve left half of myself behind in England. I’m adapting to this different season and the warm, muggy temperatures, after enjoying the sparkling frost on morning walks in the English countryside. I am now surrounded by hills of rich, green native bush in the harbour city-scape of Wellington city, whilst fresh in my mind are the open fields and gently undulating landscape of Hampshire in England. My senses feel like they are atuning anew, with scents of the sea replacing those of the countryside, the rush of the breeze now tangles my once smooth hair and the dawn chorus sings a different melody.