If anyone was actually interested in my story that’s what I’d expect the headlines to read.
Alas, no one is interested in my story so a sensationalised headline is not my future. Hence, I must write the story myself.
Born and raised in Wanganui, New Zealand with as much resentment for the place as one might expect for a citizen who lived through the Michael Law years, I was ready to escape Wanganui as soon as possible.
I studied Japanese throughout high school and moved to Wellington for University before escaping to Japan for a year on exchange in 2010. I lived and studied in Tokyo, worked night shift at Abercrombie and Fitch meticulously folding their leisure wear while kneeling on the floor in their dim lit shop trying to avoid inhaling the constant outpour of perfume, and feel completely in love with Japan all over again. After finishing university two years later in Wellington while working 3 jobs including an urgent medical centre night receptionist stint, linguistics department researcher and transcriber, and jewellery business co-owner I was determined to return to Japan.
I managed to swipe a role as Coordinator for International Relations on the JET Programme working for the government which turned into two years as token HR foreigner trying to balance lack of knowledge with constant demand for much higher skilled support for foreign teachers in the area. I was completely fatigued after two years and desperate to escape.
I couldn’t go back to New Zealand; no jobs, family problems abundant. So, to Edinburgh! Without a plan or enough finances to support myself I booked a cheap Aeroflot flight to London and took the train up to Edinburgh. For 6 weeks I was in paradise – before the money ran out and I was forced towards the vortex that is London and had a job within the week. Now, for 2.5 years I have been living in the grey and polluted capitol that is London (I love it really but as a converted Londoner I reserve the right to constantly moan and tut at the city).
I haven’t been home to New Zealand in 4 years and up until a few weeks ago I didn’t intend to return. But it’s time to confront some demons. A few years ago my parents got a divorce and everything unravelled from there. Family secrets, manipulative rumours, sinister accusations; you name it this new life I was thrown into had it.
Being in Japan and distant from the whole awful process was a god send. While my brother fell inbetween the situation I was able to pick and choose when my internet was working or not. I could listen without getting involved and eventually was able to cut off a source of 26 years of abuse by blocking someone on Facebook and Instagram. It was easier than I thought to keep the drama at a distance.
It still hurt. I still heard the rumours, still caught some anger, still listened to the goings on but I had a sea wall protecting me. The move to the UK even more so. Time zones and a busy work schedule kept me from confronting my thoughts and feelings on the goings on of this family horror show.
But I miss New Zealand. I miss the smell of fresh cut green grass. I miss the temperate weather (at least where I’m from). I miss fresh air and being able to see the stars at night. I want, so much, to be somewhere where people accept my pronunciation of things.
It also happens that my grandma (living in Leicestershire) started taking a shine to the idea of spending the winter in New Zealand and it was suggested that I should chaperone.
But I couldn’t spend 4 months with my family. God no. What a shocking thought.
So, what else can I do in New Zealand for that length of time?
The Te Araroa.
Walk the length of the country – 3000kms – instead of growing some balls and facing the family?
So, here I am. 7 months out and on a journey to lose weight and get fit for the avoidance adventure of a lifetime.
I plan to start in November in Bluff and head towards Cape Reinga northbound (or as they say, NOBO). I’ll be passing through forest, over mountains, and across beaches on what I expect (but don’t promise) to be an epic journey.
Now to keep calm, keto on, hit those steps, plan the restocks, gear up, and brace myself for something I could never imagine myself doing before now.