I had no desire to travel so far until three years ago I reconnected with my cousin who lives in Wellington, and then a year ago my son left home to travel and work in New Zealand. Suddenly it was on the radar, and then earlier this year it seemed imperative to visit before my son moved to Australia for another long stretch of time.
I’ve always had a very strong sense of place. I can arrive somewhere new and feel uplifted, or conversely depressed – and this applies to buildings as well as towns and countries. The reaction can be strong enough to make a prolonged stay unhappy – although I’d struggle to describe exactly why. I’ve met others who feel the same. It’s as if place is an extension of the body – when we feel at home and attuned we expand into the space around – there’s a buzz and a sense of heightened awareness and energy.
I’m sitting on the bed in my room in Brooklyn. The sun is shining through the windows and I Iook down on this city, out over the sea to fold on fold of mountains stretching into the distance, and I’m very happy, not only for the reunion with family.
After far too long in a cramped and dark plane the last hop from Melbourne to Wellington was extraordinary. Over an hour of blue sea and then this far flung island slowly came into sight, a stretch of shoreline, the faint
white line of waves, and I felt an uplifting of spirit. Suddenly we were flying over this scarcely populated wilderness of mountains and water – looking from the air like one of those relief maps of mountains you see in museums, all tones of dark green and grey with snowy ridges in the distance. We crossed the top of
south island and seemed to be approaching Wellington, but all I could see below was the sea, so close it seemed the plane might bob down into the water like some kind of surreal dream. Then suddenly we struck the runway from the edge of the shore and touched down into the smallest airport I’ve seen since
Since then I’ve walked much, down to the sea front where the water is a beautiful opaque turquoise, up through the parks, through dense shiny foliage, past wooden buildings in faded colours, and I’m reminded of different places I love – there’s much of Ireland here – the proximity of sea and mountains, the more exotic vegetation that grows on our western shores, maybe a sense of Scandinavia with such clarity of light and space. And it all feels new in a physical sense in the same way as Iceland – volatile, energetic, elemental, and as if humankind only touches the surface with little impact.
A feeling of immediacy is the best way I can describe it. I am very happy here, I look forward to the adventures ahead.