A year in captivity
We hurtled headlong past a milestone last week and I didn’t even notice – I was too busy being busy.
Paddy was the one who worked out we had been back in civilisation for a year. Fittingly it was a text message from our celphone provider that tipped him off – thanking us for a year of our custom.
A year of celphones and emails, alarm clocks and meetings. A year of job hunting and job finding (Paddy), flat hunting and job renewing (me). A year of wondering where on earth the year had gone.
A year ago I had returned from paradise wondering how I would ever be able to fit into society again.
A year ago I had a tan – now my pasty white legs are safely hidden from sight by brightly coloured tights.
A year ago the prospect of not having to do laundry in a bucket anymore still excited me.
I thought I had returned a changed person. That the challenges we faced, the people we met, the fear and the excitement would make me look at the world in a very different way – and for a while it did. But I have slotted in as though I never left.
When we got back had a lot to catch up on – the tailend of the election campaign and the colossal mess that was the Rena disaster being the most apparent. We’d also missed all the internet memes. It was as though the entire country was talking gibberish. We had no idea what a ‘nek minnit’ or a ghost chip was. Now I check my twitter feed every five seconds to make sure I haven’t missed any breaking news and I am Grumpy Cat’s biggest Kiwi cheerleader (though I still don’t really get Gangnam style).
In some of the more isolated spots we visited I found myself fantasising about things that I once took for granted – ground that didn’t move, shops that stocked what you were looking for, being able to give a friend a call and meet them for a coffee.
Now I’m getting irritated by the little things – long queues in the supermarket, busses running late, people who don’t answer their emails. I’ve had a lot less coffees with friends than I planned. I have been too busy being busy.
Don’t get me wrong – being back has been great. I’ve caught up with much missed family and friends, I have custody of my fur-child again, I’ve remembered how important it is to have a job that you really enjoy. I’m getting fitter, I’ve lost a bit of weight and I’ve even started riding a bike again for the first time since I was a teenager. I’m not unhappy. I’m just shocked, really shocked, at how fast the year has gone.
In the book I am writing there is a chapter called The Time Bomb (and yes, the book is still happening – that’s the subject of a different blog, which I guess means I am officially blogging again).
It describes the battle Paddy and I had with suddenly having to deal with time. Not island time, which we all know is a pretty fluid concept, or weather time, which nobody can argue with, but ‘real world’ time. And we really did struggle. The plan was that we would get back, fix the things on the boat the needed to be fixed, get out on the water more so I could keep practising and getting more confident, and finish the damned book.
Instead, Paddy went from nautical Mr Fixit to corporate Mr Fixit, I got embroiled in politics and education and come the end of the week our brains were frazzled and we’d sleep all weekend. We began to get frustrated and began to second-guess ourselves. We’d had all this time and now we had none. What had we done with it? Had we wasted it? Could we have done things better?
I took us a while to get out of that slump – a year to be precise.
The boat hasn’t moved for a year, not really. There is a terrible looking green sludge growing on the fenders. The dinghy was practically growing a forest below it had moved so little (except for that time someone took a joyride in it and the police found it – yet another subject for another blog). But the weather is warming and so are we.
We had a big springclean on the boat before our annual Guy Fawkes party (they light the fireworks on the Wellington waterfront so we get the best view in the house), Paddy has a new boom he wants to attach, I’ve started sending material to publishers and I’m blogging again for the first time since July. I’m happy to be writing again. I get twitchy when I don’t write.
I’m going to get out sailing casually with the guys at the Evans Bay yacht club (my new flat is far too conveniently close to their bar!) and now that the weather starting to warm I’m going to rejoin the local dive club – because I haven’t done that for a year either. I am a little nervous about the latter though, since the last time I was in the ocean the water was about 26 degrees! We’re also planning on taking the boat out for a decent trip somewhere in February, which I am quite looking forward to.
Now I find myself standing in supermarket queues fantasising about a tiny little store in the middle of nowhere where you can’t find anything you want and half a cabbage costs $20. I want the ground to be moving again. I miss the sea and the sand and the people and thinking about seeing them again makes me smile.
We’re coming out of hibernation, stretching and yawning and sniffing the air, and it feels good.
And on that note – here’s some explosives.