It’s a funny feeling when you’re about to head home for the first time in two years. Combine it with being a surprise trip for my 30th (ew!) birthday – I actually felt more nervous than excited when I left my office in East London to head west for Heathrow.
What if no one cares that I’m back? What if everything’s changed? What if I don’t get along with anyone anymore? What if the place I have always kept so dear to my heart, is no longer a place I feel at home in, connected with, or happy to be in?
I honestly needn’t have worried. The second I stepped off the plane and heard that kiwi accent I knew I was home.
If anyone is ever planning a surprise trip to the other side of the world…do it. Don’t get me wrong; it’s hard, it’s stressful and involves a lot of lying – but the look on people’s faces and the sheer joy and excitement generated from popping up in real life not on-screen after two years away when they’re least expecting it, is absolutely priceless. I still get goose bumps and tears in my eyes thinking back to the moment I surprised three very special groups of people.
Plot twist! While I had been planning my surprise for nine months, I had absolutely no idea that just moments after my surprises were complete, I would go from surpriser to surprisee. My little sister who is based in North Western Australia, one of my closest and very best friends, had not only been keeping my secret from our parents, but also her own. An hour after the Moët had been popped and drank to celebrate my homecoming – the front door creaked open and there was my she was – my sister. I screamed, smothered her in the hug of all hugs and burst in to tears.
The four of us were back together, for the first time in two years. The feeling was indescribable – I challenge you to find a family more amazing than mine.
24 hours in with two weeks ahead of me, the nerves and fears I had felt at Heathrow were long gone. I was home, this is where I belonged and these were the people I belonged with. If I was ever worried that time or distance would change relationships with my most special people, I was certainly wrong. During my short trip I quickly learnt that true friendships were only strengthened by distance, the love of a family never changes and the land and sea of the country I call home is genuinely the most beautiful place in the world.
From early morning walks on the beach to sustainable, fresh seafood and meals. From wines and bbq’s on the deck in the sunshine to road trips and car dance parties with my sister. From coffee’s at old locals, to lunches at the viaduct. From trips to vineyards on picturesque islands to a 30th birthday party like no other – I had to pinch myself often – how lucky was I?!
These people, this place.
I am still so incredibly touched, humbled and moved by the love shown to me while I was home. I have never felt more special or treasured in all of my thirty years. Words can’t begin to describe how thankful I am to the people I choose to call my family – blood or otherwise. You know who you are. I’m hoping that when I have gotten over the emotion generated from my whirlwind trip I will be able to put my thank you’s in to words – but right now I choke up and my head goes fuzzy when trying to do so.
New Zealand, I love you – everything about you and everything that comes with you.
There’s no place like home ♥