We made it. One entire year on the other side of the planet. One entire year in what is, essentially, a different world.
I was actually pretty emotional reflecting on the moment this past week, but when it came I suddenly realised something: I’m heading back to New Zealand soon, and I’ve picked up an awful lot of weird habits from a first-world perspective. If they slip out, I’m going to look like a real twit.
So now, I have to confess I’m feeling a little concerned about setting foot in the land of the long white cloud again. Quite honestly I think it will feel like a shock to the system.
In no particular order here is a list of the things I’ll probably end up doing:
- I’ll forget I don’t have a maid, and will pile up dishes at my parents’ house expecting them to just disappear. It’s amazing how fast you adapt to having home help…
- I’ll stand waaaaayyyyy too close to people in the queue at the supermarket expecting someone to try to push in front of me. If your body parts aren’t touching here, you aren’t queuing right.
- I’ll drive over curbs, on footpaths, and pass in town. If I get pulled over I’ll express surprise that there are road rules, and that the idea of a “road” is taken so literally.
- I’ll keep asking people if there is “ZESA” (power) or water at their house as a general topic of conversation. When they look at me strangely I’ll ask what rate we are using against the US dollar.
- I’ll go into shock when I first see the fresh produce in the supermarket and will start tenderly stroking vegetables I haven’t seen in a year as I dribble and cry quietly.
- When shopping in general I’ll ask the assistants what price items are today, in which currency, for every single item I’m interested in. Despite the clearly marked price labels.
- I will literally cry when I first taste fresh milk again. Then I will drink litres and litres of it even after my dad gets angry and tells me to stop. I’ll buy UHT milk just so I can pour it down the drain and burn the package.
- I’ll keep glancing around nervously when we go for a bush walk, and will say things like “this is lion country for sure” or “was that an ele?”
- I’ll have a look of pure terror on my face when someone suggests swimming in the Waikato River. When I get asked why, I’ll yell “the crocs and the hippos, you idiot!”
- I’ll smack Kepler in public. When I get arrested I’ll be extremely confused and keep saying “but it’s legal here.”
Awkward habits aside, it has been a big year. I think Will and I will be processing it for a while yet, packing it neatly into our memories and studying how it has shaped us as people, and as a family.
There have been PLENTY of horrible lows involving sickness, stress levels we didn’t know a human could survive, and feeling we let everyone down by some stuff up or another.
But I can’t deny that Vic Falls is now firmly under my skin, because on the 25th of July at 11pm I heard the call of the hyena in the night, and felt my heart glow at the beauty of the sound. Then I caught myself thinking “mmm, I’m going to miss that in New Zealand”. I knew then that the good friends we had made, the natural beauty we had come to love, the life we’d forged here and the strengths and talents we’d seen for the first time in each other well outweighed the hard stuff.
So there you have it. A year in, and I’m quite happy in my new home.