We’re moving to New Zealand.

I can’t believe it. It’s actually happening. We’ve booked our flights. We’re moving to New Zealand.

We’re moving to New Zealand.

We’re MOVING to NEW ZEALAND!

Maybe if I keep saying it over and over, it’ll start feeling like it’s true…

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When I was 14, there was an advert in The Sunday Times. The picture was of mountains and a lake in front; the sun shining. It was a place called Milford Sound. I just remember the colours: slate grey, icy blue, vivid green.

I ripped that picture out and kept it in my art folder, which was where I kept everything important when I was 14. That’s how you define yourself, isn’t it? When you’re 14 (and an art student). You wear your passions as your armour, use them to show the world your identity. Use them to understand yourself. Everyone in your class can be neatly encapsulated in a few adjectives, and you’re desperate for the world to get which yours are. I kept mine in that art folder. It’s probably still there.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it, about teenage identities. They’re an armour, a front, a projection. You’re trying them on to see which fits. A few months or years (or, let’s face it, weeks) and you try on another.

I never lost New Zealand. I sometimes think that 14-year-old me was the truest version of me I’ve ever been. These last couple of years, I’ve actively been circling back, trying to get back to that “me”. I lost her a bit, along the way.

I used to sit up late drawing cartoons and listening to shouty emo bands and desperately try to pull off a shouty emo fringe and dream about living in New Zealand. I might have lost the sketchbooks and the inky fingers, the nail polish and the eyeliner, but I never lost that dream. Living abroad. That poster started everything.

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You’ve probably guessed by now, and certainly anyone who’s met me will know it within about five minutes – I love travelling. It’s in my soul. It brings me to life. All I want to do is explore. This world is a big place, god damn it, and I am going to see as much of it as I bloody well can.

I didn’t go on holiday growing up. But that was fine – I didn’t want to go on holiday. Sit in a hotel with 200 other Brits. Eat pizza and drink Coke and sit by a pool in some nameless resort, Costa Del Anywhere. You go somewhere, in order to be somewhere. I wanted to BE there. Feel it. Understand it. Live it.

And now, we are.

We were there four and a half years ago. We were backpacking, and drove around for a month. We had the best little bright green car called Kiwi, and we started in Christchurch and went down and around. We saw mountains and lakes and walked across volcanoes and glaciers. We watched the steam boats in Queenstown and smelt the suplhur pools in Rotorua. We ate boysenberries and hokey pokey, and a BBQ Christmas dinner. We didn’t have a map, because there aren’t enough roads to get lost.

We had Christmas in Whitianga and flew out of Auckland. And all I’ve done since is push push push Rob, saying, when are we going back? When are we going back?

I am a firm believer in the idea that things don’t just fall into your lap. You have to make things happen. And there’s never a perfect time for something. Rob… is more sensible. And I get it, I do, I really do. You can’t just sack off your life and go travelling. You have to live in the real world. But equally, if you don’t make things happen… they won’t happen. I have always dreaded waking up one day and realising life had passed me by.

We have had so many conversations and discussions and (at least) one stand-up-full-blown-in-the-street-ROW about it over the years. It was last year in Lisbon. I know the 1 Euro pints weren’t completely to blame. I probably looked completely mental. I wonder what the hell the locals thought we were arguing about?

I told him that I didn’t want Future Me to let Past Me down. If I didn’t ever do it, what had I become? What do I tell that 14-year-old lying on her bedroom floor ripping out newspaper adverts? Why did she keep that ratty-edged piece of paper all these years? Dreams are all very nice, but what’s the point of having dreams, if you never make them come true? If you just end up like everyone else?

Funnily enough, as it turns out, it’s because of him that we can go. He’s got a work placement. We’ll be in Wellington. We fly in September.

He asked me last night if I thought we’d ever do it. Honestly? …. No.

The last couple of years have been hard. Crazy hard. The last six months have been nigh-on ridiculous. March almost broke me. If things had worked out differently, I don’t think we would be going. But they didn’t. So we are.

Sometimes you have to make a window. And sometimes you have to realise there’s one in front of you. It’s all a choice.

Think about what you, the real you, really want from life. Then choose to go and do it.

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