It's Not Goodbye, It's See Ya Later
This post comes to you from a place of mixed emotions, we’ve again lost an integral member of our travel gang: Carol has been sold. It wasn’t easy. Not figuratively because we got too emotionally attached, but literally because she does not show well. A few weeks ago when we knew we needed to sell her, we called up Shelley, the woman who sold her to us. We were just looking for advice but Shelley actually knew someone who was interested in buying. And just like that we headed back to where to all began: the lovely retirement town of Orewa.
My family let us stay at their beach house while we sold the car and Kyla and I couldn’t believe how lucky we were and how smoothly this was all going, it seemed too good to be true! And it was. When Shelley’s first buyer passed on Carol, we printed flyers to tape in the windows and pass out at hostels. When Shelley’s second buyer wouldn’t set up a meeting we checked the notice we posted on an online backpacker’s board, but were only contacted by a spambot interested in Carol. When Shelley wouldn’t call us back, we dropped the price and started asking random people around town if they needed a car. After four days of phone tag, panic dreams, hopeless googling and frustration we found our buyer and what lead us to him could be a nursery rhyme.
We met a baker
who pointed to a house
where we met a man’s wife
who gave us a number
that brought us to a man
who looked at the car
who dropped the price considerably
and paid us in cash.
It was relatively painless and I’m happy the showing/test driving process is over. It was really difficult to see people pass on Carol. It was like standing helplessly by as your child gets rejected from every college they apply to. At first I blamed Carol, why couldn’t she be better? She’d performed so well on the demanding roads of the South Island, why couldn’t she handle a test drive around a McDonald’s parking lot? Then I turned the focus on myself, what could I have done better? Checked her oil? Given her more rest? I don’t know anything about cars! Which became painfully obvious when I realized all my selling points to potential buyers were subjective and personal.
She’s really quirky and fun that’s why her back window doesn’t roll down!
She doesn’t like being left alone, that’s why it’s so hard to get the key out of the ignition!
She loves a good tune, that’s why the antenna doesn’t go down!
She’s such a trickster that’s why you can’t open the trunk with the key!
But on a mechanical level: Carol has stripped rear tires, an oil leak, a messed up suspension and, as was pointed out to me, cardboard stuck around the battery. It’s hard to say if these problems were present when we bought her because we didn’t even look under the hood, there might not have even been an engine under there for all we knew. But the anxiety of driving on the left side of the road for the first time overshadowed everything else. And “Call Me Maybe” was playing during our test drive which was enough of a selling point for us.
I’m sad to see Carol go, she’s been good to us. Our trip would not have been the same without her. In fact the trip would have been nothing without her because if I had to take a bus with all of my stuff across this country I would have flown home in February. She allowed us to travel New Zealand with freedom and ease and gave us the ability to perfect our rap along to Iggy Azalea in private.
Being back in Orewa we’ve again met some of the nicest people: the helpful baker, the helpful buyer, the helpful Shelley. We’ve also again met some of the crankiest retirees: the woman who snapped at us when we didn’t know whether the tables at the library were reserved for the iPad lessons, the woman who snapped at us for chewing gum on the bus, the woman who snapped at us for walking in the parking lot. So it’s probably all for the best that we’re heading to the hip, young and happenin’ city of Auckland tomorrow. Even if it is only for our last day and last Burger Fuel binge of the trip. We fly back to the US the next day.
If this seems abrupt it’s because I didn’t share my timeline because ever since booking the flight back in March, I haven’t wanted to think about going home. I don’t think I can honestly say I’m ready. I’m excited and I can’t wait to see my family and friends, but ready? I don’t know. I’m fully psyched to come home but not fully psyched to leave.
I’d love to stay in New Zealand for the entire year that my work visa allows me to but I wouldn’t want to be traveling that whole time. I’m not a backpacker – I have a rolling suitcase and electric toothbrush for god’s sake. So staying in New Zealand longer would mean settling again, getting a job and feeling normal. The only problem with that, and I was beginning to get an inkling of this feeling during our time in Rotorua, is that when things start feeling normal, I want to share it with my friends and family.
When we were moving from hostel to hostel without any real schedule, commitments or ties to anything it made sense to feel different from a regular person. Because you’re not a regular person. A regular person doesn’t live out of a suitcase, wear flip flops in their shower or think nothing of it when an Asian man is cooking soup in their kitchen.
But when you’re a normal person getting off work after an especially exhausting shift, you want to grab a beer with your friends, or you (more specifically I) want to call my parents to assure you your life isn’t in shambles without having to coordinate a Skype three days in advance.
There are definitely some things about going home that I’m looking forward to. I won’t have to clean a hostel ever again! While that was a humbling and enlightening experience, I won’t miss it. There is nothing as disgustingly intimate as stripping a bed that’s still warm from its occupant’s sleep and wet with from its occupant’s drool.
I’ll have use of a dishwasher! For the last 4 months I haven’t been confident that any dish I’ve eaten off is clean. I tried to give the hostel dish cleaning system the benefit of the doubt but at a certain point you just know: we’re all just rubbing each other’s food remnants from the kitchen brush into our ‘clean’ dish with watered down soap.
I’ll finally have FREE access to a washing machine and dryer! I won’t have to smell my clothes to see if they’re acceptable to wear… or at least now I’ll hold the smell to a higher standard. We’re also in every gym’s database in this country, my bangs have grown out to ‘Cousin It’ level and I’ve been using face wash as body scrub for the last week. It might be time.
It’s going to be very strange to go home though. I’m really getting the hang of being a New Zealand ‘resident.’ I love a beetroot and fried egg burger. I pronounce ‘Wh’ as ‘F’ (my favorite being Whakatane pronounced ‘Fakatane.’) I call granola ‘muesli.’ I kind of understand kilometers. I like that I can drive half the length of the North Island in the amount of time it takes to drive from Santa Monica to Silverlake. And that anywhere you are in the whole country you’re only 3 hours from a beach.
So it’s a good thing I can always come back. Especially because I can’t help thinking there’s some unfinished business here, I still didn’t find my Kiwi husband. I’ve left my New Zealand friends in charge of finding that man while I’m gone, and I’ve made it clear I’m not above being a mail order bride. Unfortunately the people I left in charge of this are my 15-year-old ‘cousin’ (long story, we aren’t actually related) and my British co-worker from my restaurant days. So one’s not a Kiwi and the other is underaged. It’s lookin’ good for me.
Now it’s back to my red, white and blue! My stars and stripes! My GMO foods and concealed weapon laws! And I’ll pick up right where I left off. Who won the Superbowl?