Friday, February 19, 2010
And so it seems we come to the end.
Chris has accepted a really great job in Nashville. Tennessee. USA. Home of the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame and barbecue. They don't eat a lot of Marmite there. Zach will grow up with a very different accent. We head back in May.
We are excited. To be honest, we have been quite homesick for some time. As amazing as this New Zealand adventure has been, I am ready to start a new chapter. I'm a little sad to say, but it looks like this may be the end of dunedinyank. Technically there are a few months left in our New Zealand stay, but I can barely get my act together to update this blog, so I'm afraid it's time to part ways, devoted readers.
(As an aside to family and friends, I may start a new password-protected blog when we get settled in Nashville so you can keep up with all of our excitement. If and when that happens, I'll let you know.)
I'm not really one for mushy goodbyes, so I think the best way to end this will be a list of things we'll miss about New Zealand and a list of reasons I'm excited to be moving on. These are long lists, so I'll divide them into two parts. Here goes Part #1.
Top Things I'll Miss About New Zealand
1) Media. You turn on the TV news or open a newspaper in New Zealand and you can't help notice that it's unbelievably boring. Someone tells you what happened, then they get a quote from one side, and a quote from another, and they move on. There are no pundits. No "media personalities." No crazy graphics, no banners rolling across the bottom of the screen. No yelling, no crying, no panic, no vitriol. Civility. The thought of returning home to any of the U.S. cable news channels makes me want to pull the covers over my head.
2) The baking. Yeah, yeah, New Zealand is pretty. You've heard that already. But what no one tells you is, these people can bake. Savouries and scones and afghans and pies ... oooh. A special shout-out to our friend Fiona, Kiwi baker extraordinaire.
3) Safety. Okay, so Kiwis love to tell you that they do, in fact, have crime, and they will talk about the gang problems and tell you about that one guy who went crazy fifteen years ago and killed a bunch of people in that nearby town. All I know is I've felt safer here than I've ever felt in my entire life. Maybe it has something to do with the lack of panic from the news media (see #1 above). Maybe it's because we moved here from a transitional neighborhood in a fairly high-crime city, so I was pretty hardened. Whatever the reason, I have never once felt uncomfortable or harassed here, even as a woman walking by myself. It does not occur to me to lock my car doors while driving, even when I'm going through the "bad" part of town. When I hear a strange noise at night, I assume it's our creaky house and not some crazy person out to get us. I enjoy this feeling immensely.
4) Health care. This is a hot topic (see #1). By saying I'll miss Kiwi health care I don't mean to insinuate that the U.S. doesn't offer excellent health care (because it does, since we can afford it). I'm not saying the Kiwi system could easily be implemented in the U.S. (because it couldn't). I'm saying I'll miss the lack of hassle. Maybe I'd feel differently if I was really really sick and needed ongoing treatments or major surgery -- I don't know. But between the pregnancy, well-child visits, sick child visits, and sick mama and daddy visits, we've used the health system a LOT during our time here and we've always received excellent, efficient care with no associated paperwork headaches. I absolutely adore our family doctor and could probably devote an entire post to the aggressive care she's given us. Once she told me not to worry about making an appointment if Zach ever seemed sick -- just bring him in and they'd make time to see him. It's been good stuff.
5) Time. Americans work hard. Really hard. It's part of our charm. It's part of what makes us -- us. But for all the lip service we give to saying that family time is the most important thing, we rarely act like it. Kiwis (and much of the rest of the world), on the other hand -- they know how to separate work and play. Here, there's no shame in taking long (3-4 weeks!) vacations. It's not uncommon for women to take up to a year of maternity leave. When there's a public holiday, everything truly shuts down. No running to the grocery store -- they have the day off. When the evenings and weekends roll around, you don't see Kiwis typing madly on their Blackberries. It's been a real treat to slow down for the two years we've been here. It's been a real treat to have my son in a place that didn't expect us to get right back to work, that allowed us to enjoy our time with him, free of guilt.
6) So much stuff to see. I'm really annoyed that time and budget won't allow us to see more of this part of the world before we go. We still haven't been to Abel Tasman. We still haven't been to much of the North Island. I'm very sad we didn't make it back to Australia. I would give my right arm for a week at the beach in the Cook Islands, or Samoa, or Fiji. But such is life. We've seen more of the country than many New Zealanders (and this is not an exaggeration ... I'm shocked at how many people here have traveled all over the world but barely know their own country), and we've been fortunate to do so.
Okay, that's it for now. I'll get started on Part II. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion.