Country songs and overflowing sinks

This has been a challenging week.  Between our apartment flooding (and consequently flooding the apartment below us), stress related to some new work I’m doing, and a few other things, I’m ready to run away and hide.  For a little while.

Every time I hear the electrician working away below us, I wince.  I feel for the people who live there.   But I also wonder—were I the person in that apartment—if I would shake my fist at the ceiling and curse.

Hopefully not.  Hopefully, while I would be frustrated, I would simply shrug and say that sometimes, stuff just happens.  Despite your best intentions and preparations.  Accidents happen.  Life happens.  You know why?  Because we’re humans, not robots.

And while I’m perfectly happy to extend that grace to others, I am almost completely unable to extend that grace to myself.

At what point do we decide that perfection is meaningless?  That a lack of perfection is not a fatal character flaw?

At what point do we get over whether we’re liked?  Whether our intentions are understood?

At what point do we grow up, get over it, and move on?

These are not rhetorical questions.  I ask them earnestly—not only of my friends and strangers on the bus, but of myself.  Perhaps, they are the foundation achieving grown-up-ness.  If they are, then I still have a long way to go.  I suppose it’s a matter of perspective.

There’s a New Zealand poet I quite like, by the name of Hone Tuwhare.  His poems were equally lusty, ribald, and political.  They are a joy to read, because sometimes they make you smile, but they always make you think.  They have depth.  Especially the later ones.   I’d like to think it’s because—by the end of his life—Hone Tuwhare had answered all of the questions I ask above.  So that even when metaphorically speaking of sausages, he spoke with the voice of someone who could appreciate what a rare gift it was to enjoy a midnight tryst with the one you love.  You don’t have that perspective at twenty.  Or, dare I say it, even at forty.  Perspective is the one thing we need as early as possible in our lives.  Isn’t it an irony, then, that we only gain it through experience and time?

There will be a point at which I can answer my questions, where I can extend grace to myself, and where I can get over it and move on (metaphorically speaking).  When that will be is anyone’s guess.  I suppose this is one situation in which the journey is the destination.  And let’s be real, a year from now (or even five months from now) I will not still carry the burden of this week–a self-inflicted burden for the most part, mind.  This I know. It’s just the actual getting through the week and keeping that self-infliction part to a minimum that I still struggle with.

Being a curious sort, when did you reach these points of enlightenment yourselves?  And if you’re like me—floundering and still trying to find socks that match—when do you hope to?

And if  you’d like to check out some Mr Tuwhare’s poems, there are several here and also here.


Home again, home again, fiddle-de-dee-dee

“You can never go home again.”

I’m not sure who said that, but I have to disagree. You can go home again, and it can be a wonderful and poignant experience. At least that’s what it was for me.

To explain my six-week absence (in part), I went home for three weeks. Back to Georgia. Back to North Florida. Back to everything I knew before moving to New Zealand.

I’ll be honest. I was nervous about it. I was afraid that I would see my beloved cities and friends through different eyes. I couldn’t bear the thought of that, really. What if I didn’t feel connected to anything anymore? What if my friends had moved on without me? What if the US felt foreign and like a scratchy shirt, cut strangely, and two sizes too small?

The reality is, I did see everything through different eyes, but not in the way you might imagine. There was no rejection, only thankfulness and appreciation for my past. For my friends. For my family. For my life.

Maori have the concept of whakapapa (Fawkahpahpah), which is used to mean genealogy. What it literally means is layers stacked upon layers, with papa defined as anything flat and hard, like a stone, for instance. Imagine a building of long, stacked stones and that is whakapapa. Whakapapa is our foundations.

That got me thinking. What are my cornerstones? What are my capstones? Are my layers strong and supple? Can they withstand a good shake? As it turns out, they can. I joke that you can take the girl out of Georgia, but that you can never take the Georgia out of the girl. It’s not really a joke, though. It’s my whakapapa.

All of us have whakapapa. Some of us (like me, admittedly) spent a long time pushing it aside, trying to forget it, trying to find something that I perceived as better. There are a lot of reasons for that, many of which are valid. But the reality is, even if you believe that you can’t go home again, you can’t run away from yourself, either. Our layers run deep and long and they are more firmly entrenched than we could ever possibly imagine.

I left Georgia three weeks ago with the profound sense of knowing who I am—more than I knew myself before, I think. I left Georgia knowing that the people I count as my closest friends are my friends for a reason. Loyal, kind, and true. I left Georgia knowing that there is much to embrace about my family, even if there’s a lot to reject, too.

The experience that best sums this up, I think, was visiting my grandmother in her new retirement village patio home. She’ll be 92 in January. She’s much frailer than the last time I saw her, but she’s still spry and sharp and full of fire.

I spent the day with her, talking about family, friends, and other important things. As the day drew to a close, Grandma turned to me with a serious expression on her face. She leaned a bit closer and I could see her lips twitching, ready to tell me something important. I was ready. Waiting. I leaned in too.

“I don’t like the new girl who fixes my hair,” she said in a conspiratorial whisper.

“What?” I asked, blinking a bit, not sure if I’d heard her right.

“My hair. It’s all flat and lumpy. I can’t go out of the house with this flat and lumpy hair. She’s nice enough, but she’s young and she doesn’t know how it’s supposed to be fixed.”

With that, she pushed herself up from her chair and started shuffling towards her bathroom. “Come fix it for me, Sug,” she called out behind her, her Southern accent drawing out the diminutive of Sugar into an elongated, Shuuuhhhg.

Dutifully I got up and followed her. I found her waiting patiently in front of the bathroom mirror, teasing comb in hand. For the next five minutes, I backcombed, fluffed, and backcombed some more, her sharp gaze watching and making sure I was getting it right.

We chatted about silly things, like the time when I was seven and I convinced Grandma to have my hair cut short, only to be deeply hurt when the other kids in the neighbourhood thought I was a boy. We chatted about my mother and the crazy things they used to do ‘Way Back When’ to get curls in girls’ hair.

I reached for the industrial sized can of Aqua Net beside her on the counter and gave her a good spray. I refused to think about the environmental sins I had likely just committed.

“Better?” I asked her as she craned her neck this way and that, looking at her hair from all angles.

“Better,” she said as she shuffled out of the bathroom and back to her chair.

It was only later, while driving to Savannah that I thought about the significance of that very small moment. The rituals and history of families—even estranged ones, ones separated by thousands of miles—can never be completely undone. How, in that moment, I realized the breadth of my whakapapa and what it meant to have history.

Rocks and Islands and Life’s Eternal Question

Since moving to New Zealand, I have accepted rides from strangers.  I have been kicked out of a bar (by association).  I have habitually jaywalked.

I have faced the prospect of being alone in a place so very far away from home.

I have been more straight-forward with people on difficult subjects.  I have dressed up like a zombie.  On purpose.  In public.

I have asked a total stranger for his phone number (for a friend).  I have met the total stranger with my friend at a bar (not the one I was asked to leave).

I have successfully driven on “the wrong side of the road” for over a year.

I have had fun.  I have been scared.  I have been sad.  I have been angry.

I have learned that I like Indian food, that I like eating more vegetables than meat, that I can tell the difference between a good laksa and a not-so-good laksa.  I have learned that pumpkin and kumara humus is delicious.

I have learned that some things in life are sacred.  They are, in no particular order: love, loyalty, curiosity, friends, laughter, and cornbread.  But only cornbread like my Papa used to make.  I have accepted that I will never be able to make it the same way.

I have learned that the core of me is the same, no matter where I live or what I do, but that I can change.  That I have changed.  That I am changing.  That I will continue to change.

I now wear patterns (occasionally) and layers and boots and scarves and don’t worry about standing out.

I think about all of these things as I get ready to leave for a trip home next week.

I wonder if my friends will think I’ve changed?  Will I think they’ve changed?  Will I miss Wellington?  Will I want to leave Savannah?  Will I ask for coriander and courgette instead of cilantro and zucchini?

Will I unthinkingly say, “Cheers, mate,” instead of “Thank you.”?  Actually, that’s a very unlikely scenario.

I have no idea how I will respond to any of these potential questions.  And (maybe this is the Kiwi creeping in me), aside from mentioning all of these things here, I don’t really care.

I can’t wait to see Wright Square, to have lunch at the Pink House, to eat real pulled pork with mustard sauce, coleslaw, and maybe a rib or two.

But in saying that, I know I’ll miss hearing the Tui birds sing every morning and that cheeky cat who saunters along the waterfront.  I’m going to miss Rahzoo and walking the waterfront on Sunday mornings.

In short, I’ll miss home when I’m home.

It’s a very odd feeling to have one foot in Savannah and the other in Wellington.  The halves of you are stretched between two planes of existence, and you never wholly fit into either.

Though in saying that, the constant stretch and pull of finding my center when I’m not sure where center is has provided unparalleled opportunities for growth and experience.  And I love Wellington, and New Zealand, and on most days, feel like this *is* home.

At its worst—on days when I feel isolated and sad and unsure of where I am and what I’m doing—having two homes is a displacing, discomfiting existence.

We need an anchor in life.  I disagree with Simon and Garfunkel—we are not rocks, we are not islands.  But even if you were an island, sometimes, the best of yourself fails you, and you need the warm, comforting blanket of familiarity and history.  You need the terra firma of a back garden in Brunswick,Georgia or a front porch in Savannah,Georgia.  That is your rock.  That is your island.  That is what gets you through the times when you’re experiencing a sort of emotional vertigo.

I saw a German film at the NZ International Film Festival called, At Ellen’s Age.  It was a weird, disjointed film about a middle-aged woman whose entire life turns upside down and—in an effort to discover who she is without the definitions of her job and her partner, she careens from one bizarre experience to another.  I didn’t particularly like the film, but I knew exactly where Ellen was coming from and why she did some of the things she did.  I understood the choices she made in the end.

We are all pursuing our authentic selves.  Part of human experience is stripping away the layers and definitions and wondering, “Who am I”?

I had a voice teacher who told me once that she would study voice until the day she stopped singing.  When I asked her why she would do that, why she would continue to learn about something she had obviously mastered, she replied:

“When you stop learning, you stop living.”

Well, indeed.

Here’s to a few more rides with strangers, trips to unknown, faraway places, and the knowledge—that when I need it—my rock is still there.  Waiting for me to find home.  Wherever “home” may eventually be.

Where is your home?  How have you dealt with feeling displaced, whether by geography or something else?

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt-Like-Thing

I am not a fashionista.  My wardrobe sits comfortably in the range of “mainstream safety” with occasional forays into “mainstream quirk”.  But, above all else, I do not mix and match.  My blacks go with my blacks.  Sometimes, I add something red, just to be controversial. 

Moving to Wellington meant throwing all of that out of the window.  Suddenly, stripes and plaids mixed together; vintage looks were popular (to the point that I thought someone was a historical re-enactor.  No.  She was just on her way to work); and things I considered very racy (fishnet tights, stiletto heels), were daytime de rigour

I have become a bit more experimental with what I wear, but I wanted to take it a step further.  I wanted to find something that was uniquely New Zealand fashion that I could take home with me for my upcoming visit.  Something that would totally up my “cool” factor. 

So I decided to go to DeNada.  I love DeNada.  It’s a lovely boutique full of strange and interesting clothing options that are ridiculously expensive for what they are but intrinsically lovely all the same. 

I have to confess that, heretofore, I’d never actually purchased anything from DeNada.  There are three reasons for this.  One, the price.  Two, the fit (I’m a bit more ample than the target customer).  Three, my complete befuddlement at how some of the garments are meant to be worn.  Or even gotten into.  But I had this moment of capriciousness and decided that I wasn’t leaving until I had a new, lovely, tres chic garment.

Now, had this occurred at home, at least three of my friends would have stopped me.  Or they would have at least gone with me to make sure that I wasn’t going to be a walking fashion disaster.  SL, with her critical eye, could say—without malice—“No, that’s not you.”  She saved me from a very awkward sweater purchase once.  LA would encourage me to branch out, but would also politely tell me when something worked or didn’t.  LA convinced me to buy a pair of shoes that have since become my favourites.  TM would tell me to “work it,” and convince to buy something that showed a peek of shoulder. 

LG, CS, IN, and TP–in their own ways—will tell me when something makes the best of my assets and when it doesn’t.  And they are tough.  Really tough.  And I love it. 

I trust these women with my lives.  Therefore, it was a suicide mission to walk into DeNada without them.

An hour later, I came skipping out of DeNada with a skirt-like-thing.  I say skirt-like-thing, because it wasn’t a skirt at all.  It was this odd tube of fabric with large, pointy panels in two colours draping down my front and rear with a large slit going up the side of the leg.  According to the sales clerk, it was a skirt meant to be worn over pants.  Or another skirt.  It was not, apparently, a skirt by itself. 

That seemed edgy.  Cool. Fashion forward.  And I liked it.  I happily handed over my credit card for the skirt-like-thing. 

The infamous skirt-like-thing, on it's way back to the store

Then I got home. 

I was so excited, I rushed upstairs to put it on, telling T that I wanted to show him my new skirt-like-thing. 

But what happened next was like waking up in the middle of the night to discover you really shouldn’t have eaten that second burrito. 

The skirt-like-thing looked very, VERY different in the far more judgmental mirror of my bathroom, than in the one in the shop.  Oh no!  What had I done?  How could my skirt-like-thing have forsaken me so quickly??

Sure that I was just being overly critical, I sloped downstairs intent on getting T’s honest appraisal.

I said to him, “I want your honest appraisal of this.  You won’t hurt my feelings, I promise.” 

T winced and an expression passed across his face that reminded me of the time that he ate some bad fish. 

“I don’t like these kinds of games,” he said warily. 

“I’m serious.  You won’t hurt my feelings.  Well, I mean, don’t say I look like a two-thousand pound hippo, or something.  Be constructive.  Non-emotive.  Tell it to me straight.”

The bad fish expression passed across his face again.  He opened his mouth and then closed it.  He motioned for me to twirl.  I did.  He opened his mouth again, blinked, and closed it shut.  He asked me to twirl again.

“It’s bad, isn’t it?” I asked.  “That’s why you’re not saying anything.  Because it’s bad. I knew it was bad!”

“I didn’t say it was bad!” he rushed to say.  “I just … I mean … what is it?  Is it a skirt?  Is it missing some fabric?  I mean, it’s hard to really give you an opinion when you’re wearing it over your jeans.”

“You’re supposed to wear it over your jeans.”

T’s eyebrows shot up to his hairline, the universal symbol for, “You’re shitting me.”

“Really,” he asked. “Oh.  Okay.  Well … wait, so it is a skirt or is it … what is it?”

“It’s a skirt-like-thing.”


“They said to wear it over pants.  Or another skirt.”

“Uh, huh.” 

“So what do you think,” I asked, sure he was stalling.

He did the mouth flapping thing again.  Cleared his throat.  Asked me twirl once more.  And then he stuttered, “I … well … I mean … it’s … I’m not sure … That is, I don’t know if …”

I sighed.  “It’s bad, right?”

“It just looks … complicated.”  Encouraged, he continued, “And I don’t know if that … well, I mean I love your—but I don’t think it plays to your best assets.  I mean—oh hell!  Why can’t you ask your girlfriends about this?”

I put him out of his misery and agreed that the skirt-like-thing was indeed a bit too complicated for my much more simple style and that it did, in fact, make my ass look like it was the size of an airplane hanger. 

I just know that if any of my girlfriends had been with me, they would have told me to step away from the skirt-like-thing and would have encouraged me to look at something else. 

I caution to add that it’s not as if I don’t have girlfriends here.  I do.  And they are amazing, lovely, wonderful women.  But history is important.  I have an insane amount of history with SL, LA, TP, CS,LG,IN, and TM.  I have barreled through more than one pint of ice cream with several of them—one or both of us crying our eyes out at the time.  I have rushed over to one’s house at 2 am when she needed me, and vice-versa.

We have been through the wars together.  We have talked and lived love, death, and taxes.  We have seen each other naked.  I don’t mean in the physical sense (though, yes, obviously we have had occasion to witness this).  I mean in the, “Oh, dear God, please don’t ever tell anyone that I {insert embarrassing/vulnerable moment}”.  That (among many things) keeps my defences low when I ask these women leading questions like, “Does this make me look fat?” 

We’re honest with each other and we don’t have to explain our motivations.  We know that whether it’s a skirt-like-thing, a relationship, or a work problem, we’re going to be straight with each other.  Why?  Because we love each other and we only want to see each other blossom.  Sometimes, to blossom, you have to step away from the skirt-like-thing. And sometimes, it takes someone you trust more than yourself to tell you. 

It’s like having seven sisters, really.  That’s the way I think of them.  It’s nice knowing that, even at 8,000 miles a way, I can still count on these women to keep me grounded, and to remind me that I’m loved.  And tell me if the skirt-like-thing makes me look fat. 



Weighty Matters

I have never been entirely comfortable with “me.”  It’s hard to describe, really.  If someone stops to talk to me, or leans in a bit close, I never assume it’s because the other person finds me attractive.  Interesting?  Funny?  Engaging?  Smart?  Absolutely.  Each of those; all of those.  Pretty?  No way.  That does not even enter my mind. It’s a weird mix of confidence and non-confidence that I’ve never really been able to explain.  Until now.

I just finished reading a wonderful book:  “Conversations with the Fat Girl,” by Liza Palmer.  Set in California, it’s the story of Maggie and Olivia, two girls who were best friends all through school, and both of whom (because of size and other things) were always on the outside looking in.  Fast forward to their late 20s. Olivia has gastric bypass surgery and whittles down to a size 2, and loses who she was in the process.  Maggie, who was likely just a normal-sized girl, can’t get past the idea that because she’s not a size 2, somehow she is unworthy of love, of genuine friendship, of not being walked over.  Told in the context of Olivia’s preparations for her marriage to her perfect doctor husband, Olivia stays fixed in her fantasy world of what perfection is, and Maggie blossoms through the adversity and difficulty of losing all that was familiar.

The book is not just about size.  It’s not a “fat girl’s anthem” in that sense.  And yet, it absolutely exposes every insecurity I think all women have about their bodies.  With a deft comic touch and smart, observant prose, it addresses how we tie our self-worth too often to how we think others perceive us, physically.

The most intriguing part of the book was that I could identify with both Maggie and with Olivia.  While Olivia is …. grossly unsympathetic in myriad ways, the book is written well enough that you understand where she’s coming from and what drives her to do the things she does.  I felt immense pity for her.  And Maggie is, in many ways, every woman.  Well, every woman who’s ever wondered if she was smart enough, good enough, talented enough.  Pretty enough.

There was one line that really struck me in this book, and one that I think we can all identify with on some level.  Maggie comments on the fearlessness of her seven-year-old niece who bursts into her ballet class without a care that she is dressed differently than the other girls. Emily (Maggie’s niece) blithely tells her mother that she hopes the other girls are okay with what they’re wearing, because they don’t have a pink tutu or a fairy wand.  Maggie says:

“I want to be like that.  I want to be seven years old again.  I want to go back to the day my confidence left me and was replaced by an apology.”

A few years ago, I lost a significant amount of weight and have managed to keep it off.  The reality is, though, I still have a good portion to lose still.  It’s a hard slog and one that I’ve been a bit lazy about over the last year.  But honestly, no matter how much weight I lose (or don’t) I can’t seem to see myself as “normal”.  I still feel like a woolly mammoth lumbering through an urban landscape.  In some ways, that feeling has been exacerbated by moving somewhere that follows dressmaker sizing (European sizing).  After 27 hours on a plane, I gained a new home and two dress sizes.   I’m still dealing with that in some stupid way.  So, I totally get Maggie’s obsession with cardigan sweaters (for hiding back fat) and the best ways to tilt her chin in pictures (to avoid double chins, neck fat, and basically, anything remotely unflattering).

It was a good read.  It was uncomfortable at times, if I’m really honest, but oddly empowering, too.

Pardon me, but do you know how to get to Downward Dog?

“Hello, my name is Jenn.

It’s been 11 months since my last yoga class.”

It’s a bit embarrassing admitting that.  I went from an average of 2 yoga classes a week to zero classes a year.  I’ve wanted to remedy it, but things always got in the way—a shocking lack of discipline chief among them.

It’s not as if I haven’t gotten exercise since I’ve been here.  Just walking home from the train sometimes required specialised mountaineering equipment.  (Okay, I made that part up, but there are some seriously steep ‘hills’ around here!)  But it isn’t the same as flowing through your vinyasas and really going for it in your Warrior poses.

Truth be told, I miss it.  I loved yoga.  I loved the way it made me feel.  I loved the mind/body connection.  I loved that I felt energized, strong, and centered all at the same time.  I haven’t ever found anything comparable.

Maybe that’s why I hadn’t found anything here.  I was used to my classes at home.  I liked them.  I didn’t want to have to do practice differently.  Or with different people.  Or in an upside-down hemisphere.  (Again, that’s just a bit of dramatic flair for storytelling purposes.  I’ve never been seriously affected by the different hemisphere.  Though, T would disagree with that.  Something to do with the time I fell into the car…)

At the end of the day, yoga was challenging enough.  I didn’t want the extra challenge of having to start over again.

Yes, yes, yes.  This is a big, deep, thinky metaphor for other stuff in my life, too.  Some days, I feel a bit too old to start over, to prove myself and what I can do. Sometimes I get frustrated and just want to shout, “Can’t you see who I am?  What I did?  What I accomplished??”  (Which, when you think about it, is waaaaay more embarrassing and shameful that admitting my fall off of the yoga wagon.)

I get over myself pretty quickly.   (Cheese helps the process immensely.)  Mostly because I realise that I’m framing my frustration in the past—what I did, what I accomplished, who I was.  None of that matters now.  And neither does the fact that it’s been 11 months since my last yoga class.

I think I found the answer.  Healium.

It was Healium’s bright, Robin’s Egg blue sign that caught my attention.  The fact that two lovely people from Philly moved to New Zealand and opened a studio clinched it for me.  Well, that and that the classes are convenient, close, and cheap. Regardless, there’s just something about this place that feels right.

I booked my first class for next Monday afternoon.  I forewarned the instructor that I hadn’t forward-folded in almost a year.  She smiled and said, “That’s okay.  We all lose and find our way again.  It’s just the way it works.”

I’m pretty sure she was talking about more than downward dog.

Like Sand Through the Hour Glass…

When I left Savannah a year ago—the heat already unrelenting, the sweet tea still lingering on my tongue, and my heart as excited to leave as it was sad—I had no idea that I would arrive in Wellington on an auspicious day.

June 14 is otherwise unremarkable, as I knew.  I mean, aside from being Flag Day, the day on which the Falklands War ended, and Women’s Day in Iraq, the date had little relevance to me.  The obvious exception that it marked the day that I took a chance (fuelled heartily by faith and blind curiosity) and moved to the other side of the planet, notwithstanding

But as it turned out, I arrived under the auspice of Matariki.

The arrival of Pleiades (Matariki) in the morning sky marks the beginning of the Maori New Year.  It signals a shift in season, a time to come to know yourself and your whakapapa (genealogy).  It is a time to reflect on the year that was, and the year that will come.  It is about regeneration.  Reinvention.

So yes, how auspicious it was that I arrived on the date that marked the beginning of a new year and a period of reinvention.

I’ve had a lot of adventures, more lost-in-translation moments than one would think possible, moments of incredible joy, moments of heartbreak, and lots of other moments this past year.  And so, now that Matariki has come back around again, now that June 14 has come and gone, I’ve taken stock of what I’ve learned about myself this last year.

I should mention that what’s great about living some place so far removed from “home” is that the lens people see you through is vastly different.  In one place, I might be considered demure; in the other, on the decency side of brash.  (I’ll leave you to work that one out).  It’s through that lens shifting that we really come to know ourselves, I figure.  So.  Onto the “list.”

The most surprising thing I learned is that my faith is incredibly important to me.  Living in the South, religion and faith are interwoven into everything we do, socially, culturally, and even in business.  New Zealand in many ways is as far removed from this as possible.  At home, I felt like a bit of heathen.  Here, I feel like people are afraid of the real possibility that I might spontaneously break into a Hallelujah or ask if I can get an Amen.  Okay, not really.  I don’t think I’ve ever asked if I can get an Amen, nor am I likely to.  But the reality is, I have faith, and it’s stronger than I realised.

I suppose for accuracy, it bears mentioning that there is the pre-conceived idea in New Zealand that if you’re from the southeastern United States, you have a bible for every occasion.  Whenever there’s a bible question in the Dominion Post’s daily quiz, the invariable response is, “Ask Jenn.  She’s from the South.  She’ll know.”  I can’t get too upset, because I usually do know the answers, but come on!  Who DOESN’T know the deal about King Solomon and the baby??

I also learned that you can take the girl out of the South, but you NEVER take the South out of the girl.  Nothing more needs to be said.

One of the hardest things I learned is that I don’t miss home as much as I thought I would.  That’s not a reflection on my life, or my family and friends.  I think it’s just a reflection on me.  I love living abroad.  I love discovering new things.  I love the point at which I realise that we’re all the same at the end of the day.  I suspect New Zealand is the first stop in a life-long pursuit of knowledge and understanding.

It’s not as if I never get homesick or frustrated or miss the comforts of the sameness of home.  I do.  Lots of times.   The joy of discovery overrides it most days.  But there are days when all I want is a sweet tea, a biscuit with peach butter, the ease of friendships that began a decade ago (or longer), and the Savannah sunshine.

But most of all, I learned that no matter where I live, I’m still me.  My core self hasn’t changed.  I’m still Jenn.  Just Jenn.  And I hope I’ll always be that way.

Maybe it’s true that you can never go home again, but I think I finally figured out what the guy meant when he said, “Where you go, there you are.”

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