I was off to the capital for a long weekend. A trip away to an awesome destination would appear to be a great getaway, but my impending trip meant I was to embark on a journey that would inevitably peel back the scab of an emotional wound.
For starters, I’m not the biggest fan of flying. Being un-suspended in the air at thousands of feet, while jilting through turbulence was not my cup of tea. Neither was the fact that I left my home of Wellington several years prior happily hand in hand with my husband, off to live overseas. There were plenty of skeletons in this closet.
The trip was booked, as I had been invited to a memorial of a child I used to teach. I knew it was the right time to seek closure in both aspects.
On the plane I was allocated the furthermost seat, while the place next to me remained vacant on this otherwise packed out flight. I bided my time and nerves by wading through a trashy magazine that allowed nosey people an inaccurate snapshot into the lives of people they didn’t know. Apparently it’s our right to read that crap.
I knew that coming into land at Wellington airport was never going to be a smooth feather-falling affair. But strangely, what would normally render my knuckles to take on a ghostly shade of white (as I would sink my claws into the arm rests) actually put a smile on my face. I sat with parts of my body that I thought were toned, jiggling away in an invitation only dance party and I knew everything was going to be alright.
A few tears teased at pricking my eyes because the last time I arrived at this airport, my husband was here to pick me up. The toddler across the aisle offered me his slobbery Chupa Chup. I pulled myself together and politely declined the offer.
I had preconceived notions of trudging through the airport walkways on my own with a suitcase in tow and torrential rivers rolling down my cheeks. But I didn’t. I didn’t have time to as my friend surprisingly greeted me with a bear hug from the first doorway. Emotions surprisingly told to bugger off – check.
Driving through the same roads to see the same houses and shops was eeringly different. It wasn’t the scenery that had changed, it was me. I vaguely reminisced as the car navigated tight spaghetti string streets that only Wellington could offer. It was like I was home, but it wasn’t.
The plan for my Wellington invasion was simple. I had let people know from an era gone by that I was down to visit. So before I had even left my sunny beach-side abode, I already had at least twenty individuals to catch up with and they all seemed to want to have coffee. I barely drink coffee to begin with and I was seriously going to end up as some over-caffeinated gremlin bouncing from location to location.
After visiting my old work place, I caught the bus to the train station. It was then that I realised in peak hour traffic sitting squished up against a stranger, that our personal spaces had clearly been left outside at the bus stop and that nobody talks to each other or smiles. They keep to themselves and don’t appear to be happy to be going home for the evening.
I navigated my way off the bus and down some stairs, wearing some gorgeous heeled boots and lugging a 16kg suitcase (I really don’t know how to pack lightly) while trying to look fabulous.
On the train everyone appeared void of emotion as the clackety clack provided our elevator music orchestra. The happiest thing that happened was the overly loud and familiar chime of Windows starting up.
The next few days were a blur of; reminiscing and catching up with friends and family, devouring mouth-watering treats from favourite establishments, indulging in coffee, taking steps down forgotten paths and enjoying past sights and sounds.
The day of the memorial was peppered with sorrow. I thought I was going to be alright until we drove up the windy goat track past the place where my husband and I had first lived together, got proposed to in, and lost a crap load of weight together in. That was hard, as I wondered why the heck I’d chosen to wear mascara that day.
Throughout the memorial I wept not only for the sparkly little girl who had passed away just shy of her fourth birthday, but for my husband who also had his life taken from him far too soon. There is nothing like a good cry to cleanse the palette of your broken heart.
As I write this, I am sitting in my favourite Cuba Street cafe. In front of me is evidence that I got to experience my favourite hot chocolate once again (just say yes to the cream and marshmallows), half a wedge of everything but fat-free chocolate cake, and remnants of a spanakopita tart that I ate quickly so I wouldn’t look like such a pig with all that glorious food in front of me.
Today I return home feeling stronger and empowered that I have been able to close a chapter and open a new one, emotionally cleansed and with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. I also take home a food baby which now resides in my stretched belly and a pocket full of new memories of my old city.
He manu hou ahau he pi ka rere.
I am a new bird that has taken flight.