Friday, June 10, 2011

There’s no Turning Back Now

Yesterday was an entirely weird day. The previous night we were at Courtney’s brother’s house saying goodbye to his friends. We got home around midnight and I was too cold and tired to do any packing or sorting. By morning, I was up and ready to go but Courts was a little… seedy, to say the least.

We ambled around getting ready and didn’t even really notice the time getting on. We felt no sense of urgency to get to work and were already running late when we realized we needed petrol as well. We took Monty’s car through the car wash ready for his big return and made it to work half an hour late.

My boss arranged a chocolate cake and took it into the main Contact Centre where she proceeded to embarrass me with speeches from her and our team. I both loved and hated it, but it really did mean a lot. She pulled out a list of stats of my time there, things like having done 30 induction courses for new staff and trained 200 people. It was the 700 phone screens that got me jaw-dropped as recruitment was my least favourite part of the job.

They presented us with a going away gift too – 2 tiki key chains, a traveler’s notebook and 2 tickets to the very top of the Eiffel Tower. I was lost for words, we hadn’t been planning on stretching our budget to get to the top and here they’ve given us an experience that can’t be had anywhere else. Once that was all over (even the GM and head of IT came down which was awesome) I sent a goodbye email to my wider team and said my goodbyes. Courtney, in true Courtney style, took forever saying goodbye, but we finally left around 1pm.

I can’t explain how surreal it was to drive away from work. I know I wanted to leave, to get away from the air conditioning and fluorescent lights, but I’ve still spent the majority of my waking hours there for 4 years – it would have been weirder if it didn't feel a little like leaving home.

We spent the afternoon packing and cleaning and awaited the arrival of Mum and my sister after 5pm. By this time the stress had got to both of us and we were arguing and taking stupid things to heart. Courtney is a leave-it-to-the-last-minute guy whereas I would have had everything ready the night before if I hadn’t been waiting for him to be finished with bits and pieces. Having agreed days ago that the morning of our flight to Christchurch we would start the day in the clothes we would wear on the plane, I thought it was safe to pack everything up. Alas, Courtney needed a shower and afterwards needed everything I had packed up. It was silly but it did really stress me out, knowing we still had stuff to do and yet here we were undoing everything I’d already done.

Saying goodbye to my animals was the worst. Only animal lovers can understand it, but I was more upset leaving them than any humans – I can Skype the humans, I can’t Skype my little furs. I said goodbye to Izzy early on and left him to play in the bedroom with Njaro. We have routines together, he and I. he sleeps under the covers with me and rests on my pillow when he gets too hot. It will be extremely weird not having that. 

Saying goodbye to Toby was even worse. By the time I came to do so, Nurse B’s Mum had arrived to take over house sitting duties and I didn’t want to get upset in front of her. Toby is my buddy, and he’s a Mummy’s boy too. He understands a lot of words, some of which don’t translate when other people say them because it’s the inflection in my voice that he picks up on. I feel like he will be living in a metaphorically darker world for 4 months, all these words in his head and no one saying them. He’s a Border Collie so he is smart and needs mental stimulation. I think it will be like if I went to a small town in China where people spoke broken English at best. I know he will be safe, but he’s still my little boy, and I missed him the second I was in the car.

I didn’t cry saying goodbye to my Mum, sister, Squish, Lobster and Wozz at the airport. It didn’t feel like a big goodbye scene because we were only at a domestic terminal and I knew I was only flying an hour. I was a bit sad when I realized there was a viewing platform and, not knowing about it, they had left already. It really hit me though on the plane. Instead of thinking how 4 months is so short and I want to be in Europe longer, I was thinking how 4 months is so long and I miss my home already.

Everything changed so drastically in one day. There was no resting period between finishing work and leaving, so in one day I left my job, my friends, my animals, my family, my home, my stuff – my sense of normality and grounding. I cried on and off the entire flight, moving between excited and incredibly sad.

It helped that my darling Gin was there to pick us up at the airport and that she had the most comfortable bed ever in the history of the world waiting for us at home. Her house smelled of fire and homeliness and warmth, and it was easy to fall asleep.

Today is a huge day. See you later New Zealand, we’re off exploring.

If you’ve travelled, what did you miss the most? What was the hardest thing to leave behind?