I. love to think of myself as an easy and easy girl. One of those people who impulsively follow the slightest breath of hilarious ideas, like a dog from a cartoon that floats on the smell of a cake to where it cools on the windowsill.
But if I’m honest with myself (and with you), I have to admit that I’m not that kind of person. I am the one who makes plans. I confirm the numbers, I find and book restaurants, I get tickets for things in advance and arrive everywhere I go, embarrassingly early.
That’s why it was so weird when last year, without planning at all, I accidentally moved New Zealand.
This, as in most stories of slightly insecure behavior, can be blamed on love.
During the first closing in 2020, when our whole lives were turned upside down, I started talking to a mutual friend on Twitter in Aatearoa. Although we experienced a pandemic and did not know when and when we would ever see each other in person, we accidentally fell in love.
We went through Fr. tense and hard time throughout the year, but after nine months of waiting she visited me twice, for a total of about three weeks. Soon after her second visit, things started to change again. The border between our countries was still open, but the number of cases in Sydney was starting to grow, and everything looked as if it could become difficult.
In the rush of heat to my little cheerful brain I decided I should surprise her by visiting as soon as possible. I wanted to impose this on her because it would be fun, but also partly so she could get rid of the stress and worries of anticipation and hope. She missed all the hard things we had just gone through, and one day just opened the door and I would be there. And that’s what happened.
It soon became clear that I had made my way through my teeth (disgusting idiom). Now it seems almost strange, but the plane that arrived right after mine was great news, it had a positive case of Covid, who went on a tour of Wellington.
Cases in Sydney exploded, the border between the countries was closed and I was trapped in New Zealand. I wanted to surprise my girlfriend with a week-long visit, but accidentally surprised her by … moving into her house.
There is a popular humorous stereotype about lesbians “U-Hauling”, which means moving together soon after the date starts, but I think an unexpected move from abroad after three weeks together in real life takes a pie.
Luckily, my propensity for overtraining came in handy in this case, because even though I only came for a week, I had enough underwear to dress a family of five for months.
And although I didn’t plan it – I didn’t say goodbye to anyone, I told my family that I would be back in a week, and I didn’t bring anything important with me – everything worked out, and I was able to settle down as if it was my plan all the time.
Almost a year has passed and it has been an amazing experience but a happy one. Everyone was so polite (we won’t mention one of my girlfriend’s older relatives who is good with the fact that she’s dating a woman but wasn’t impressed that I’m Australian) and happy to show me around.
Wellington is beautiful and I liked to suddenly notice the small differences you feel when you spend enough time in one place.
For example, everyone here is obsessed with native birds, and talking about birds. If you are in a group of three or more people, at some point someone in that group will start talking about the kakapo breeding season or gather in the garden to see the unusually colored beer.
After gently teasing them about it for months, I recently thought that takahe and kakapo are actually much more interesting flightless birds than kiwis, so they must be just as famous in Australia … and I knew that they got to me.
My favorite difference is how te reo Māori is used here. It’s not just included in signs and official forms, or it’s said once a year on a certain day – it’s everywhere you go. Almost every pākehā (European New Zealand) I have met accidentally uses rea-Maori in conversation.
This is a small sample size, but they were all able to teach me about the history of colonization in this country, about important events, about the racist structures on which the country is based. But no less important that they are familiar with Maori stories about the land we are on.
I say this not to praise white people for keeping the absolute minimum, or to say that in Aatearoa everything is perfect when it is clearly not; I say this to emphasize how completely and utterly barren white Australia is compared. Living somewhere a little and seeing how achievable the minimum is, I am ashamed every day of how far we lag behind.
There are other major differences. For example, the sweet and sour sauce at McDonald’s has an amazing taste.
Regardless of the differences, and although McNuggets tastes worse, I now consider this place my second home.
My spontaneity when I came to visit was not only rewarded but also saved us. If I hadn’t decided to fly so fast, the border would have closed with me on one side and my girlfriend on the other. We would be apart for another year.
I haven’t watched Sliding Doors in a long time, but I think there will be one on this scale where Gwyneth dies. This experience and the pandemic in general definitely made me more spontaneous and a little more daring.
Should a friend stay in a new well-paid job, or should she fly to Spain to reunite with her ex to get a chance at love? “Before” me would tell her to continue this stable work. Now? I’ll take her to the damn airport myself. But we are still early.