Finally back to the first world, which we appreciate for three main reasons: medicine (I go to a real doctor and get my foot seen, cleaned, bandaged) internet (high speed and bulletproof, god bless it!), and creature comforts (American sports on TV, every kind of cuisine within a one-block radius, and English-speaking people!). So, as soon as we land I load minutes on my New Zealand sim card and get a text from Erica. She’s having a party tonight with all her coast-to-coasters. Can we come? Of course!
We check into our new “home” at the Spencer on Byron Hotel in Takapuna, a north shore beach community of Auckland. I’ve always fantasized about living in a fancy hotel in New York City, and I think this is as close as I’ll ever get. They put us on the 19th floor with gorgeous views of Rangitoto Island, and we finally have a door between the bedroom and living room, which gives us a bit of a break from each other. We also have a little kitchen and washer/dryer—basically everything we need. The hotel is beautiful and has a great pool, hot tub, gym and tennis court, which Mark is using every day (I will as soon as my foot gets better). Plus, we are just a couple blocks from the beach and Erica’s.
Takapuna is a really cute place. It is sort of a mix between Del Mar (walkable, great restaurants), Pacific Beach (mellow vibe with lots of athletic people wandering around), and La Jolla (cute shops, cafes, etc.). The beach is lovely and every Tuesday night during the summer (which we are in now, btw) is the Beach Series, this wonderful event that encourages everyone to jump in. At 6pm the horn blows and the race begins. About a thousand people participate in either a 5K run, a stand up paddle, a kayak, or a swim. It’s so exciting and everyone finishes through the same finish line about 30 minutes later—really neat!
So, we are relieved to unpack, buy groceries, work comfortably, and just “live our lives.” We booked a month for now and then, we’ll see…both of us are trying to make an effort NOT to plan ahead and just focus on the “now,” which we haven’t been doing for the last few weeks.
This trip has really made me ponder those frustrating questions like, “Where do I belong?” and “What is the meaning and purpose of my life?” I have a sneaking suspicion that there will never be just “one” purpose to my life, and that my meaning and focus will shift over the years, as it has already done. It used to be track, then dogs and chimps, then traveling. Now what? It would be nice to just check a box and say, “This is what I’m all about.”
And I am beginning to have an obsessive relationship with the expression “the grass is always greener.” No matter where I am, it seems like I always want to be somewhere else. If I’m home, I wish I was on the road. If I am on the road, I wish I was home. And now who knows where home really is? This is the ultimate question on my mind, and I’m working on figuring it out.
I have always thought that travel was the road to enlightenment. The best way to broaden my mind and grow as a human being. But in so many ways travel has mixed me up. With so many places and perspectives and lifestyles, it’s problematic to have to choose one. There’s no easy way to sift through these things, but I suppose time, contemplation, and reflection are a good start, right? Or if someone out there has already figured this out for me, please let me know!
February 2, 2012 at 9:18 pm
Great post Michaela that I can totally relate too. I have never really traveled outside the U.S. and I’ve been working +50 hours a week in front of a damn computer for what seems like my entire life. I’ve been dying to do so some serious traveling for the last two years so I’ve been saving every penny I have to quit my job, sell my car, put my stuff in storage and travel as long as money will allow. Well that journey begins in 7 weeks and to be honest I am scared as much as I am excited. I hope it will bring the happiness and enlightenment you speak of. However at the same time, maybe 3 weeks into it I’ll want to come home. Perhaps I should do what most people do, buy a home, find a wife, have kids, and live the so called American dream. However that doesn’t feel like me at all. Instead I’m saying fuck it, I’ll blow every penny I have and travel around the world and see as amazing many places and meet as many amazing people as I possibly can. I know I’m making the right decision, and can’t wait to prove myself right. As you have alluded too, time, contemplation, and reflection is a good place to start. We all have to figure it out for ourselves and I can’t wait to begin the journey.
February 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm
Sean, thanks for your comments. I can hear the excitement in your words–can’t wait to hear about your upcoming adventure! Sounds like you have an open attitude and you are ready to take it all in. I think this is a big part of finding satisfaction in traveling. Keep me updated!
February 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm
Absolutely! I look forward to more of your post from NZ. I can’t wait to turn on the wind shield wipers 15 times a day instead of the blinker. I’m taking notes and have already made some plans based on your blog. 🙂
February 5, 2012 at 11:29 pm
By the way, Sean, I recommend you check out my friend Andrea’s blog. She’s a traveler who has been on the road for a couple years now. She doesn’t update her blog anymore, but it still has a lot of interesting tips and commentary about the traveler lifestyle: http://www.frugalflashpacker.com/
February 6, 2012 at 7:25 am
I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks for the lead. You can never learn enough about anything in my opinion. If you guys are still in NZ late March we should meet up for dinner one night. I’ll be spending a couple days in Auckland before flying to Queenstown for a month, then I drive north over 2 months. Chat soon.
February 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm
Great post. There certainly isn’t any right answer. For me, I come home to Jennie each night. That works for me. Well, that and a few trips to Balboa Park with friends. :). “Why else would you come here if you weren’t . . .”. Ha! Great times.
February 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm
Ha! Yes, still not sure what all those people are doing in the park…. 🙂
February 4, 2012 at 11:42 am
Nice post. I think it is cool that you are sharing things like this “out loud.” I won’t pretend to have it figured out, but I think you’re on your way by acknowledging that you keep looking around for that greener grass. You just have to find a way to curb that, and really soak in wherever it is that you are. I know, easier said than done. Hope that doesn’t sound too preachy, I’m just as full of shit as anyone else. I just don’t want you looking back years from now wishing you had enjoyed those adventures more.
And everyone knows, the true road to enlightenment is through a good burrito.
We love you guys,
February 4, 2012 at 4:58 pm
Thanks, J. Appreciate your words as well as your burrito dogma. I think it was Luke Jasner who wisely said, “Where does Mexican food come from? Chipotle.” More food for thought… 🙂
February 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm
Sounds like a great place, Michaela, and a definite welcomed change. I loved all your descriptions and the pictures you painted of this beautiful place.
Yes, I think pondering those questions is not only important but vital to one’s growth and fulfillment. And I think what we discover changes as we change as you have already seen in yourself. I continue to ask myself if there is something else I’m being called to do or more that is calling me and as I just sit with this I put my intentions of being open and receptive “out there.” The questions never stop although for me I know that this is where I’m supposed to be…..but there is always more! And my goal no matter where I am is always to live fully and consciously and completely in the NOW.
I love you…..Diane
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