Flying back from Massachusetts to New Zealand convinced me that one of the reasons I’ve taken two years to do so is that it is a very long way by anyone’s standards. (Almost precisely 10,000 miles, in fact, which is a nice round long-distance figure.) It is a much longer way when you’re flying with an American-flagged carrier; I was under the naive illusion that the more bus-like aspects of domestic American air travel would be ameliorated on international routes. This is not the case. Buying the premium economy seats on our United flight across the Pacific basically meant that our knees had a few inches clearance from the seats in front, instead of none. In comparison, getting onto the Qantas flight from Sydney to Wellington seemed like luxury. There was space! Entertainment! Edible food!
The only real hiccup in the travel, though, was me self-selecting myself for a pat-down at Sydney Airport. In my defence, it was six am, my body clock thought it was…I’m not actually sure what my body clock thought it was, and when I saw a table at the end of the rolling belt your bags come off after the x-ray it seemed like the perfect place to stop and fix the broken zip on my backpack. Unfortunately, I chose to do it next to the security officer doing pat-downs, who assumed I was there because I was randomly chosen to receive her. I’m not sure who was more confused, me or her.
SECURITY OFFICER: What are you doing?
ME: Zipping up my bag. The zip’s broken.
SECURITY OFFICER: Oh, you can’t do that, I need to stick this in it.
ME: But I just went through security?
SECURITY OFFICER: And you’ve been randomly selected for enhanced procedures.
ME: I what? Who? Where?
SECURITY OFFICER: Hold out your arms.
ME: I knew there was a good reason for me to dislike Australia.
We had a fairly typical Wellington landing, which, for those of you who are not familiar with the phenomenon, meant it was just a little bit bumpy instead of conveying the strong impression we were going to be blown off the runway into Lyall Bay. Wellington is special that way.
But it cleared up quite nicely this morning, and, better yet, we finally managed to get our documents sent off to the US Consulate in Auckland, thus significantly increasing the chances we will get our visas in time to leave next Tuesday. (That seems quite soon, suddenly.) I feel like I should be able to tell you about a whole lot of things we’ve done since we came home, but, honestly, most of it has just been hanging out with people and enjoying being in Wellington. I keep thinking I can’t remember how to get places, at least while driving, and then as soon as we’re actually on the road the whole route unfolds inside my head, stored away in some long-term memory bank for when it was needed. It’s the same with lots of things; I can’t visualise it, until I see it, and then it all comes back. All this city I grew up in.
At the same time, though, I think I’m going to be fine with leaving – Wellington, on Thursday, and New Zealand, next week. I miss it like crazy, the place and the people, and I have eaten and drunk an unholy amount of things I can’t get in America (V! Milk bottles! Fish and chips.). But right now my day-to-day life is in America; my house, my cat, my work. I’ve mentally transplanted myself. And, until we’re ready to come home for good, that’s going to be OK.