Sunday, February 12, 2012

Twenty four

It’s an age I never gave much attention to – it seems just like a stepping stone to a more significant milestone (twenty.five) or another place in time. But it’s what I’m calling home for the next year, so I think it’s important to set a few things straight.

I’ve changed in the past few years. I like flowers now, it’s true – but I like them alive and potted. I’d prefer a bonsai tree. Remember my love affair with coffee? Well, it’s over; the divorce is in the mail. The smell of a good brew still makes me a little weak at the knees, but I’m fighting it because I know it’s not good for me. I love tea – tea is helping me survive this bitter and cold winter. Oh winter… this year I fell in love with two things at exactly the same moment: the crunching, dipping sound that your feet make when you walk on snow and the child-like satisfaction of running in the morning and making the first prints. Every time my boots carve their portraits into the snow I feel a slight sense of ownership: this is my world.

I like men who are tall. The guys who offer to carry my bag, so I can insist on carrying it myself. I like paying the bill. I treasure that awkwardness that comes with getting to know someone. The deep unknown; whether you should plunge or to swim away. I adore men in scarves (thank you very much Europe). Letting myself get lost in the feeling of someone resting their hand on the small of my back. I’ve noticed that all Italian men, so far, smell delicious. I love friends who don’t know the meaning of distance, or refuse to let it define our friendship. I’ve learned that sinking feeling that comes when I look at a globe and see how far away New Zealand is – the furthest far away that I’ve ever seen. How can such a small place contain so much wonder and so many wonderful people? I’m looking forward to visiting home; but, absolutely equally, I’m looking forward to leaving again. I’m thankful that regardless of how dark the day is, how lonely the night, another day always greets me in the morning. Glitter is, still, cocaine for my eyes.

Only recently, it seems, did I realize how gray my eyes are – and how much I like that about them. Now I wear my hair curly more often than straight. Straight hair is reserved for two occasions: when I’m traveling so it’s more comfortable to lean back in buses/cars/trains/planes and for when I want to feel a little more dashing – oh and apparently at twenty four I use words such as dashing and charming at an uncanny rate. I don’t care so much about expensive things anymore because I know I don’t want to take them to Takeo. Ah Takeo, since I’ve left I often wonder how long you’ll keep my heart hostage there? My one guilty want is an iPhone, but I know I don’t need one. The battle of need vs want is something that I’m sure will continue forever, but I’m getting a little wiser. Wise enough to know I’ve got a lot to learn.

I still have the urge to go everywhere - it’s innate. I’m learning to accept that it’s okay to not follow the middle working class life cycle: school, high school, university, good job, good partner, good house, good babies, good life – retirement and finally getting to do those things you always wanted to – oh, but only if you make it this far. Going against the grain is harder, because there’s no obvious next step. But I’m choosing to pursue happiness and not wealth. I’m letting myself experience uncertainty instead of routine. I’m taking chances instead of wondering and maybe most importantly of all: I’m living instead of merely being alive.

Here’s to twenty four, in all its glory. Here’s to another crazy adventure, like nothing before.

This song is delicious

Monday, February 6, 2012


February used to be my month: no one else in my immediate family had a birthday in February, so I claimed it as my own. As a child it was the highlight of my year - filled with cake, presents, attention and sunshine. I relished February.

As I got a little older, February meant something more; there was valentines day shared with flames and two of my favourite people in the world have birthdays either side of mine - February became more of an "us" thing, for all the right reasons.

The beginning of last February was incredible; I was in Cambodia, volunteering, with some of the most amazing people I've ever met. My days were spent biking along the fiery dirt roads, helping to teach English to beautiful little souls, smiling so hard my face hurt, late night chats on the balcony (with some $2 whiskey in hand) and I felt a level of contentment like nothing before. Most often people go on holiday to have a rest, to relax their mind. Takeo is the holiday for my heart. I can't really explain it further than that, but anyone who's been there will know what I mean. It was the most wonderful place to spend a birthday.

It was a hard decision to leave Takeo, especially as I had a month spare. But India felt like the right move and on the 21st of February I flew to Calcutta. And on the 22nd of February everything changed.February is no longer just a month of celebration, this year it marks an anniversary my greatest loss and the saddest, darkest few days of my life. Although my birthday is two weeks before, this is my first birthday without her. And while I really should have come to terms with everything and the permanence of it all, I guess I quite simply haven't. It may sound trivial, but somehow her not being able to wish me a happy birthday makes everything a little too real. It is with a heavy heart that I welcome my 24th year, but I'm ready.

And it may in fact be a little too ironic that this year looks to be the year I become an aunty. It's funny how life sometimes works like that. Hakuna matata.