Day 0

November 17, 2005 – 7:00 pm

Flight summary follows. Qantas: very good. Kids: great. Sleep:
taken where it could be got. Customs failed to care about our coffee:

Customs: What are you declaring?
Us: Coffee.
Customs: Any honey or fruit juice?
Us: No, it’s coffee.
Customs: Ok, through you go.

I swear, you could be declaring the bloody Hope Diamond and all they’d
ask is, “any honey in it?”

I had to push my family to come, and it wasn’t easy. They all had
comfortable lives in the US, but I knew that I really preferred New
Zealand and that if I stayed in the US for much longer then I’d never
escape. I was losing my accent, losing my idiom (“honey, I’ll put the
trash in the trunk”), but not really happy with what I got in return:
debt to buy a house, free and easy credit card debt, a too-fast
lifestyle, and participation in an economy that supports politics I
don’t believe in.

All that’s easy to say, and I’ve said it before (“don’t want to
live in a red state, can’t afford to live in a blue state” was how I
ended up phrasing it) but actually making the move: not so easy. In
particular, I hadn’t been in New Zealand for 18 months and in that
time I’d lost the feeling, the images, the drive. I knew that I
wanted to be in New Zealand, and I could give you intellectual reasons
why I thought it would be good, but I could no longer feel that
I was doing the right thing.

The instant I stepped out of the airport, I knew I had done the
right thing. The smell of the air, the green, the friendly laid-back
people: it all came rushing back. And that feeling of, “my god, this
IS the best country in the world!”, still hasn’t worn off.

We live about an hour from the airport, so we had to hire a taxi to
take us home. We’d called ahead for Warkworth Taxis, $150 for the
trip. They sent a too-mini-van which we had to work hard to fit our
gear into, but once assembled like a broken luggage Tetris in which
the complete lines failed to vanish, we cruised off happily. Jenine
and I were kept busy ooh-ing and aah-ing at new things (bus lane to
Albany! The park’n’ride center at Albany! They’re extending the
motorway to Puhoi!) while Jenine and the kids weren’t sleeping.

We stopped for a pie on the way up, unpacked once we got home, and
I took the kids to the beach while Jenine slept. The beach wasn’t
cold, but wasn’t hot either–comfort was a mental trick and not a
physical given. The kids loved it: William swum and Raley dug in the
sand, and together they whiled away an hour on a beach we had to
ourselves because it’s November and not January. Heaven!

By the time I returned, Jenine had found that our fridge was no
longer going. I puttered off to Leigh to find someone to repair it,
but without luck. When I got back, my aunty had dropped off the DSL
modem that my uncle had ordered for us earlier in the month. Yes, we
have DSL but no fridge. Nerd much?

Speaking of the house, we’re in shock. It’s tiny, smaller than we
remembered. We shouldn’t have packed the 40′ container. It’s Too
Much Stuff. We should have sold it all and started again. But that’s
easy to say now, and was impossible for us to deal with back then.
The good news is that with DSL we can surf TradeMe quickly to get an
idea of how much we’d make from selling the stuff from the container
(which will arrive late December–expect furious purges of the house
until then).

The highlight of the day: fish and chips for dinner. Oh so good.
I feel like I ate an entire school of gurnard. We followed them up
with kumara chips (kumara are like sweet potato, but infinitely more
delicious and perfect and … excuse me, I have to go eat some more)
and then passed out.

I stayed up and made a movie of
the sunset
. The iSight isn’t a great video camera, but I fear I
packed the Firewire cable that would connect my real video camera, so
you’ll have to make do. Next up: a webcam.

At the end of Day 0, the first day back, I can only say that it all
seems perfect so far for me. It’s not easy for the family: I know
Jenine’s quietly missing her friends, and the kids have cried because
they miss their friends too. I miss my virtual friends (I’ve been so
busy I haven’t had much of a chance to AIM with them) and only had a
few friends in Fort Collins, whom I’d see once a week if that, so I’m
more able to make the transition.

I’m hoping, of course, that we make new (local) friends to fill the
gaps and make it clear that we’re moving to a new life, and not
pointlessly scrapping the old one. And with that, good night!

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