E Noho RāAuckland, Spring 2012

It’s the end of my last day in Auckland. I woke up this morning on the same street as my homestay house, but in a different bed. I left my homestay house at the beginning of this week, right before I left for Sydney with my mom. I cannot tell you how odd it is to walk down the same street I’ve lived on this whole semester and go to the Bed & Breakfast my mom and I are now staying at, instead of the house I’ve called home for five months. I felt the same way walking down Queen St., the main Auckland thoroughfare, today when I was heading to the bus. I kept wanting to text my South Island Crew, asking them if they wanted to meet up for kebabs later or grab a drink at our favorite bar, Father Ted’s. I kept thinking about uni classes and uni exams, even though they’re already over. I kept telling myself that there will be time tomorrow for Thai food, and that Saturday morning market I never checked out, and those coffee dates with friends on the weekends, and those places I had carefully marked on my map at the beginning of the semester. Tomorrow. I’ll get to them tomorrow.

Endings are hard. There’s something to look forward to (there always is), but there’s a lot being left behind. On my last day in Auckland I walked across Grafton Bridge with my mom to the Auckland Museum, one of the first places we visited in the beginning of the semester and the end destination of our IES city scavenger hunt. We saw kids playing rugby in the Domain, a sport I’ve learned to love after a bunch of disappointing Blues games and some pretty awesome All Blacks wins. We walked up the hill to the museum, my mom taking photos of the palm trees and towering pines, and when we arrived at the top of the hill and the steps of the museum, I looked out at the entirety of the city. Like always, the Sky Tower was gleaming in the sunlight, and you could see the islands that stretched out past the marina seemingly into infinity. The museum had on display a series of photographs from New Zealand Geographic, award-winning photos of the landscape and the people and the animals of the region. Not only were there some pretty sick photos of birds in mid-flight, there were also some beautiful shots of mountain chains in the South Island and Auckland in the misty morning. I know it’s silly, but it felt like the museum had set the photos up just for me, to quietly remind me of the time I’ve spent in New Zealand this semester, and to tell me it’s okay to leave, but not to forget.

My mom being here has actually made the leaving a little easier, and a little harder. Her enthusiasm has made me realize how many exciting things in Auckland became commonplace for me, from the foliage to the kindness of strangers, and her awe at the place I’ve lived made today a little bit harder because I realized how much I was leaving. But by her sharing this experience with me and understanding where I’m coming from and where I’ve been, I know that when I go back home I won’t feel so isolated and alone. She’ll know, and having someone who understands will make a big difference when I’m feeling a bit strange about being back.

There are so many things I want to say, and do, and share with you (I went to Sydney this week! It was amazing, seriously get yourself there if you can manage. The Sydney Opera House alone is worth the trip), but I guess the most important thing to say is that I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else but in Auckland. Earlier in the semester I wondered about home, if there could be more than one place in the world that a person could feel a sense of belonging. I talked about how much I missed Rochester, and how every day I was learning more and more about how to appreciate Auckland (what a difference five months makes). I know now that Auckland is my home as much as Rochester is, and the distance and various bodies of water that separate me from Auckland don’t matter because the city has left its mark on my heart, and it will be there forever.

I’ve had too many adventures to name, and so many adventures left to live. Thank you for taking this journey with me. I’ll be seeing you soon, everybody!

love, e

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