Home, where is it and what makes it home?
What is home and where is it now?
This is what we experienced over the last 3 weeks back in NZ. Is it the people or the place? I have asked myself this question so many times while we have been away over the last 20 months and so many times the answer has differed.
This time we had a real ‘in your face’ look at what it meant to us. A trip home, well, to our old home, and is it still home for the 5 of us?
I’m not so sure anymore, and that is something that I never thought I would feel.
We are so blessed to have been born in one of the most magical countries in the world and I will never stop being a Kiwi at heart, but man, travel gives you some perspective on the big wide world!
The trip home was without doubt epic and extremely special to be with our family and our friends again.
We spent time across the North Island, spreading ourselves thinly and taking any moment we could to be with people we love.
Christmas was a time of family and love, of celebrating being altogether across the two families. We spent 2 special days, hitting it running as we arrived on the 24th of December so it was straight into the celebrations. Jet lagged and happy, we enjoyed fine food and even finer wines and beers, all 3 things that we had been missing on the travels. My father’s wine cellar got a good workout and the huge kitchens and endless water for showers and the dishwashers were a real treat for us all!
The kids ran free between the gardens at both grandparent’s houses and the beach below my parents. Cousins were reunited and fun was had by all of them.
Nights, (and the days) were much cooler than we are used to so new winter type clothing was bought for all and worn daily!
Boxing Day was spent with my family, celebrating the 50 years of marital bliss my parents have achieved. A significant achievement, a day we came together to be grateful for them and all they have done for us all over the time they have chosen to spend together. I feel so lucky to have them as role models and have been extremely lucky for my wonderful childhood and love they have always shown. Living inspirations.
From there we made everyone laugh with spending 2 days out on their boat with my brother and his children and au pair.
“You’re going boating, but you live on a boat?!” was the reply when anyone asked what we were doing! No one could believe it, they thought we would be sick of it, but I have to say, I guess we love boating and it has always been a special time together for my family.
Waiheke and the Hauraki Gulf was gorgeous, even in the bluster and wind that was there most of the time.
We fished, we drank wine and beers, we ate more incredible food, we swam – well…. Noah had one jump off the high diving board that was it for him.
I decided on the last morning I had to get in and got straight out of bed, walked up through the boat and dived in. I was so shocked at the ridiculously cold water I was straight out and into a hot shower! My dad and brother thought it was hilarious! 18 degree water is no fun!
Sadly, after this time, we heard Chae’s grandmother was seriously unwell so it was a quick pack up and a trip to Napier to be with all the whanau there. We got to spend several days with everyone there, being with an amazing woman as her life slowed right down. We got to hold her hand, help her with anything we could and just be there. It was hard, but it was so good that we got to be a part of it.
The family showed what incredible people they all are during the matriarch’s last few days. The love and kindness shown by his family to their mother, mother in law, grandma and great grandma showed me what true love is for someone so special. From lying chatting on the bed with her to playing with all the great grandchildren who were there was a heart filling experience. She was an incredible woman. She will be sorely missed. She has left a troupe of children, grandkids and great grandkids to follow in her footsteps though, and man, are they are gorgeous bunch!
We were lucky that we got to spend the time and be with all the family.
From there we headed to Taupo for time with my family again. Taupo has always been such a special place for us and it was so good to be back, even if the gusting wind prevailed again and brought temperatures down to a bone chilling 4 degrees! Is this summer?! Not for us!!!
Cousins stayed up late playing in the loft, bike riding to the dam, bush walks and more chilly swims in the lake! I actually enjoyed this more than the one off the boat!
Finally, it was time for friends! Man, I have missed my friends. That has been one of the hardest parts of boat life for me. I have missed the crap out of my girlfriends. No one to chat with and hang out with. Video calls don’t do fill the same kind of space as a chat and a walk or a drink together to solve all of the problems of our lives!
We have met amazing families and other wonderful friends while sailing but nothing compares to old school friends that have been there for your ups and downs over a significant period of time.
We had dinners, afternoon lunches and drinks, pool swims in my girlfriend’s pool (who kindly heated to 28 degrees for us so we felt more at home!), sleepovers for the kids with their buddies, a day at the tennis with a girlfriend and even 2 nights of just Chae and I being alone with no children – for the first time in TWO YEARS!!! Unbelievable, and yes it felt super weird!
I walked through the bush with a friend’s dog, a got to mow a friend’s lawns and use washing machines with endless power and water. I got to drive again – which was super weird and almost like I had kind of forgotten how to do it! I was overwhelmed by the noise, the speed and the other crazy drivers around me. In fact, life in general was overwhelming for all of us!
Which brings me back to where is home for us now?
I loved being back, we all did. But it was just overwhelming. In all ways. All of us had moments when it was too much, from the noise of many children playing and the extra noises in shopping centers and just in general to the mass of people and the rush and bustle of life.
Everyone is just so busy!
Several times each of us took ourselves away from what was going on to have some quiet to clear our minds, tucking ourselves away in a corner for a self-imposed time out from all the chaos that we all used to take as our day to day.
If it is put plainly, we have lived a quite selfish life since we have left. Selfish in the way that we are doing what is best for us and only for us. I have to say I have enjoyed it and the benefits have shown on being back in part of a more traditional and structured culture.
We wake up when we want and our one constant requirement is that we do school Monday to Friday. This needs to be completed relatively early in the day as it gets too hot otherwise and no one can concentrate or achieve anything in the heat. So, our day revolves around school being done and then we are free to do whatever it is we like or need to, depending on where we are.
Often the afternoons are spent on more fun and passionate pursuits. Diving, snorkeling, swimming, beach play, market runs, shopping or boat jobs that need attending to. We are able to spend the time together as a family and this has been so bonding and grounding for the 5 of us.
We found at home that if one of the group was missing for more than a day, doing their own thing elsewhere, that we would start to really miss them, their interaction and dynamic.
As we spend the day in a more relaxed fashion on the boat, bedtimes are flexible and so are mealtimes (to a degree with our ‘hangry’ children!). The kids are now super flexible and nothing seems to bother them in regards to timing of things.
This has been a surprising and also delightful effect of the nearly 2 years of constant travel. Before we left they were by no means flexible like this. It made all the hopping between houses and random meal times and activities easier for us.
All in all, ‘NZ Home’ made us realise how much ‘Boat Home’ has changed and improved our family and sense of closeness and general wellbeing. I was not expecting this and it was such a delightful surprise to see.
Looking back now, I wonder why I didn’t want to make this change sooner. Maybe, had I realised the benefits, it would have been a no brainer, but it’s hard to know how it will all play out.
I have seen the growth and independence of our kids. I have watched their emotions about their ‘NZ Home’ experience and been delighted in the time spent with friends and family. We have all enjoyed the time spent in an all too familiar, yet now foreign lifestyle.
All good things must come to an end, although by the end of 3 weeks of house hopping and not much time to ourselves I was more than ready to start the mammoth pack and to head back to home home. ‘Boat Home’. Because I think at this time in my life, ‘Boat Home’ is where it is at for me.
That is a sentence I never thought would come so easily and feel so right.
Chae had been mortified about the seemingly random and weird things I had managed to squirrel away and buy while in NZ. He and my father watched with great interest as I started to sort it all out and start the packing, spreading it across my parent’s garage!
It took me over 5 hours to get 100kg of boat parts, kitchen appliances (including a new vacuum cleaner!), clothing, swimwear and random food stuffs I have not been able to find around the world that I missed!
The prep and shopping list was large as we have a massive year of sailing coming up (more on this coming soon….!).
Finally, all was done and I could sit down for the last meal. My brother, his kids, a very good friend who is like another brother to me and his family joined my parents at their house and we spent a final evening enjoying each other’s company and sharing laughs and again great wine and food! A common theme and one I will miss a little bit!
Goodbyes are always hard and my heart was breaking saying the final goodbye the next morning to my parents at home and then Chae at the airport as he is staying for a few more weeks to hopefully buy some more horses. We have to fund our lifestyle somehow!
Tears were shed and heavy bags sent off to hopefully arrive intact and safely at our final destination.
Thank you’s were said and last minute calls and messages were sent to people we will miss dearly until we get to see them next. Everyone was so kind and generous with time and places to stay. We were truly spoilt by those dear to us.
As much as I adore my home country, especially after getting to see it again through fresh eyes, the green, lush countryside, the tidy and clean organization of the place, the incredible natural beauty, the bounty the land and sea provide for us all and the mostly friendly people.
Yet home for me is still where my family and my heart is happiest, and for the foreseeable future, this is on Waterhorse.
Plus, it’s much warmer on the boat than in New Zealand too!