I grew up in white-fenced, idyllic backyard suburbia in a country at the ends of the earth. New Zealand was considered a young landmass, and a $1000+ plane ride away from most ancient civilisations and war-torn history and century-old buildings of the rest of the world. We didn’t have ruins or significant religious monuments but our fiords were untouched and our water glacier-clear. Childhood as little kiwi meant running across the grass barefoot into wild, black-sand beaches with the wind behind our backs. It meant throwing ourselves into the Tasman Sea, flesh and water glistening and merging as one. Summers were long and heady. We’d kill time by draping ourselves across sun-scorched concrete driveways, licking ice blocks, listening to the loud drone of cicadas filling the silence.
And there was a plenty of it in the suburbs. We’d go to school in the day and fill our neighbourhoods up with play in the evenings. Creeks led to secret passageways, forests were secret homes for elves. As each evening grew dark, the roads would start to smell of sweet smoke; a tar-and-grass blend that takes me home even now, as a twenty-two year old. I would lie my cheek against the warm ground and listen to the still, wondering if there was more.
In the noughties, roads ushered new settlements into tidy little blocks. Each had its own dairy*, bakery and a fish and chip shop. Dial-up modems were set up. Internet began its eventual takeover of television and exposed the first generation of young humans to their place amongst the world. I would read books and wonder why Piha didn’t look like the rolling hills of Prince Edward Island. I’d chat to Americans on Neopets and wonder why they thought we were a part of England. I began spelling ‘colour’ as ‘color’ and read about Yellowstone National Park and sprawled out on the floor, measuring the distance to France and Bali in eight-year-old handspans.
I moved as a result of peering into the beyond all my life. As a desperate search for the culture and deeply-rooted customs and rich, ancient history that didn’t exist back home. To uncover all that laid beyond my three little islands that were precariously perched at the world’s ends. I didn’t want to follow up conversations with where my country was, or to be consistently left out on world maps. Everywhere else seemed so damned grand in comparison, especially the ones that really weren’t. I felt simultaneously bored and spoilt in metropolitan Commonwealth, a clash of feeling I was aware was contradictory, but could not shake. I wanted to wake up and be void of unnecessary indulgences. I wanted to be amongst people who appreciated every bit of what they had. I wanted to grow and nurture a deep gratitude for existence, which I have found within Nepal, and previously Egypt.
There is a distinct hum that sits on top of and between all the noise, back where I am from. You can hear it after the fancy weekend brunches are done, in the middle of a workday, in the early hours of the morning when the first light touches the Auckland harbour. It is a yearning for more, a half-hearted protest against the unspoiled bubble we live in, and it lives strongly within the veins of the generation I grew up with. Many hear the hum louder than others and leave, some to never return after finding what they sought beyond our tiny islands. As much as I would like to be one of them, the truth is I feel tied to the silence more than I would care to admit. I left so that one day, after I have seen enough and done enough and walked through enough dusty roads with beeping scooters, I will be able to return to the quiet of the suburbs and revel in the unapologetic, beautiful still.
* Dairy: A small owner-operated convenience store in New Zealand.
Great dairy jenny! Life is struggle. I found something different on you. What is your best part in Nepal? And what make you feel Nepal different from new Zealand? Thanks
Thanks, Ajit! I’m not too sure, I’ve only been here for a couple weeks. So far though, the spirit of the country is just insanely beautiful. Maybe it’s something to do with Kathmandu being surrounded by mountains or the chaotic roads or the history/religion (none of which we have in New Zealand) 😉
This is so interesting. I grew up in British Columbia, where the written history only goes back a few hundred years. Of course it’s amazing to study aboriginal history as well, but there isn’t as much record unfortunately.
Although I’ve seen some pretty amazing cities, I still want to explore southern Asia. It’s a huge gaping hole in my history. See, when I was really young my parents sold everything and moved from Canada to Indonesia for an adventure. I need to see that part of the world! 🙂
That’s so awesome! From what I’ve seen on Insta there is an insane amount of gorgeousness in Indonesia, or an insane amount of local talent capturing it all (maybe both, ha). Man if you do go I’m gonna have my eyes peeled for your photos!
Thank you for following my Instagram account. As soon as I saw your feed, I was transported to another world, and immediately had to reciprocate. This was a wonderful story to read. Good on you for being courageous and wanting to dig a little deeper from life.
Hey Nikki, thank you so much! That is so kind of you to say. All my best to you <3
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