Shakespeare said, “Journeys end in lovers’ meeting.” While that is a pure and timeless sentiment, I can’t say this trip followed through. Or, perhaps, the journey isn’t really over. Soleil and I parted in Melbourne on a dark morning, quietly slipping back into our long distance. That distance would grow throughout my return home: through time zones, measured in miles or kilometers, across a vast ocean. For the last portion of my trip, though, the distance was minimal. I returned to Auckland for a much-needed respite from travel, time spent with my family, and an opportunity to get well before taking an epic trip back to Reno.
Travel, no matter what anyone or I might say, is stressful. If you’re already emotional from other events then it’s easier to be effected by all the bureaucracy and minutia of customs. At a later point, I’m happy to compare what my experience was traveling between four different countries, but on Friday all I wanted to do was see my family. So, the necessary annoyance of traveler’s passes, passport checks, and biosecurity tested my coping skills. I’d cried enough that day anyway.
Once I was through customs, it was easier. Compared to Melbourne, Auckland was warm and sunny. I’ve spent so many of these Getaway entries detailing the little things that happened, but that really isn’t necessary for this part. Unlike most of the previous weeks, I didn’t go to any restaurants or bars, bookstores or museums, and I didn’t walk on the beach one last time. Instead, I did exactly what I needed to do—rest.
I’m not the kind of person who travels. And, for the last two years, I haven’t spent much time out and about the way I did on this trip. So, of course, it made sense my body would give out at some point, and I’d catch some kind of virus. I always wanted to make the most of every day with Soleil, and that didn’t often include doing ‘nothing.’ So, that’s what I did in Auckland. I did laundry. I unpacked and packed my bag one last time. I ate homemade vegetarian dishes made by Mum, because at a certain point I was tired of restaurants. We binged the first season of Ted Lasso. I caught up on my blog. I tried to woo the cat. My family and I talked, sitting around the dining room after breakfast, about what the future might hold.
I also had my first taste of jet lag. Currently, Auckland is two hours ahead of Melbourne, and I felt every minute of that extra time. And, for all my independence, I’d spent the last few weeks with Soleil beside me. It’s a kind of intimacy that I didn’t realize I missed until I had it and it was gone again. It’s funny how, with Soleil there, the usual anxieties weren’t so bad, but they came back when he was gone. The room was too quiet or too dark, and my imaginative mind kept me up with various scenarios. Eventually, though, I found sleep and a temporary method to help.
In 2016, I couldn’t have imagined the next time I’d be back to Auckland would be with an Australian boyfriend in tow. If the last few years have taught me anything though, it’s that the unexpected doesn’t always have to bring anxiety or excitement. Sometimes, all I can do is accept I don’t know the next chapter. I can’t predict when I’ll see my family again, though I hope it won’t be years. I can’t predict if all the various journeys will end in happy meetings or partings. All I do know is I don’t want to let the physical distance take up too much space.
My last meal in Auckland was a hearty breakfast with toast, scrambled eggs, beans, hash browns, and sausage. (Love is when vegetarians buy you sausage and then stress over whether it’s fully cooked). My brother and I traded a few teasing remarks. The weekend had been a chance to rest, recover, and recuperate and I’d done most of them. While I was already missing Soleil, I knew our time apart would give us a chance to think about and work toward our goals. Long distance sucks, but we already knew that. We didn’t know what it was like to be together for more than a week, and now we do.
When I started writing these accounts in Vancouver, I promised a once in a lifetime adventure. And it has been. I visited Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Soleil and I met each other’s families. I ate and drank so many different cuisines. I was a guest at a beautiful wedding. We stayed in all kinds of accommodations: from an air mattress on the floor to a luxury hotel. I saw multiple beaches. Most of all, I spent time with and met people who made this trip better than it would have been alone. I couldn’t be more grateful for this experience and these adventures.
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