The Account of a Lifetime

November 30, 2009


Filed under: Cogitations,Reflections,Visions of the future — xisor @ 12:04 pm

It’s been a long time in coming, but I’ve finally left the Northern Hemisphere properly and arrived in New Zealand.

I must confess that my precise reason for being here is somewhat mysterious, even to myself. I’d intended to work until graduation and then come across here for a few months ‘to doss about’ until October-y time at which point I’d hoped I’d have some semblance of ‘the rest of my life’ sorted.

This plan did not unfold, it unravelled.

As time marched on my desired mechanism (airmiles or money transfer from my mum) to hurl me from Britain to New Zealand repeatedly failed to materialise. For five months now I’d been sat upon an oddly unthreatening precipice labelled “Anytime now, as soon as the airmiles arrive: I can go!”. But they took a long time to arrive (mid October!) and even then everything still failed to make any amount of sense.

In the end, I finally received the necessary funds and jet-set off.

But what kept me?

Truth be told, I don’t know. Also various things. Work was…comfortable. I didn’t want to leave St Andrews and, for the most part, leaving work meant leaving St Andrews. For the first month there after ‘the end’ (so June after May) it was strange. A few folks were still around, a handful here and a bunch there; Alistair, Eilidh, everyone out in Fife Park, Colleen, James, Owain and such. It was very nice and I really didn’t want to miss out on that simply to retire to Cowdenbeath or Stirling to…twiddle my thumbs.

So I stayed. And time marched on. And I had to climb out of (and into) a few kitchen windows. I’d graduated, I’d said goodbye. By July there had been…unexpected developments. As time advanced life advanced. People came and went, I even had the opportunity to meet some really interesting and fun new folks. Hell, one doesn’t often become well acquainted with the upper echelons of the Poker, Knitting, Rock and Real Ale (to cite a few) societies every year.

In any case, many adventures were had and a hell of a lot of absolutely excellent things came and went. And yet I persisted. Like some crotchety old ghoulish spectre I haunted the place. Well, it was damn good fun, can you blame me? But, after perhaps one of the most unexpected and unprecedented six months of my life, I think I can safely say ‘time was up’. It pained me to leave it behind, seriously and deeply. But I’d always said I was leaving, I’d always intended to leave and I sincerely believe I was due to leave. Lingering (or malingering) indefinitely isn’t exactly a fantastic plan.


To be perfectly honest, I know little as to why I’m actually here. Distance and perspective are the two most central buzzwords to the plan, but they’re not exactly informative. I would never say I was stifled, oppressed, restrained or coddled by the last five or six years, but I would say that I may well have lost a degree of perspective. Though I climbed a lovely ivory tower (or high horse; take your pick of metaphor) and could see far and wide, I have perhaps lost sight of some other things. Perhaps the specifics, the details? Perhaps I now spend too much time surveying things and not enough time doing things or going places.

If I had to pin down some objectives for the time I’ll spend here in New Zealand, I think these are important:

– Don’t go mad
– Get a substantial bit fitter
– Sort out something properly for the return to Britain in late March

Beyond that, everything else is secondary. In the meantime, I’m here on the far side of the world. It is assumed that I can’t cause much damage, can’t inflict too much harm. I’m still almost well-connected and can possibly keep in contact but the important thing is me sorting out my own noggin’. Not that it’s terribly messed up, well, I don’t think it is. But getting a more concrete plan, pinning down a vision and maybe, for once, thrashing out a proper long-term sleeping pattern which doesn’t involve a worrying number of all-nighter ‘corrections’.

Where am I?

As matters stand just now, I’m situated in Thames. It’s a small town, due to massively increase in size due to summer influx of folk, out on the Coromandel peninsula on the northern edge of north island (NZ doesn’t have a proper name for the north or south islands, just ‘north’ and ‘south’). We’re about  an hour from Auckland (even though it sits only further up the opposite ‘prong’ of the island visible across the bay) and similarly distant from Hamilton to the south. The pacific coast lies around an hour away Eastwards across the hills and through ‘the bush’.

As it happens, time travel is ‘close by’ too. Making a quick napkin-approximation guess at distances, I’d say I’m about the ‘width of Britain and Ireland’ away from yesterday. I.e. if I get on a boat and sail the width of the Britain and Ireland, I’ll arrive in yesterday by crossing the dateline and zipping back from GMT +13 to GMT -11. Quite an exciting prospect, eh? Not real time travel like zooming off on a rocket to the planet Aleph to visit Alice or Bob, nor hiding in a phone box, but pretty close to it. I always like that little bit of playing about with clocks and ‘conventional time’.

As I mentioned to my academic wife earlier today: ‘the week’ is the only really artificial unit of time. Seconds are sort-of subdivisions of days (rotations of the sun) which obviously go with the planet’s orbit whilst years and months both loosely correspond to the sun and/or moon (depending) encapsulating days ‘within’ them. But weeks? C’mon, stop messing around now!

The Terms of Exile

As things stand: I’m spatially and temporally cut off from home, from friends, from almost all family, from work, from Uni, from school. I’ll be here for around four months and I’ll likely be running on a shoestring budget. I lack access to the common facilities and resources I’d have had access to otherwise at any given point in the last decade. All told: I’m far from home, almost alone and feeling distinctly, unsettlingly itinerant. My safety net has been replaced wth a fragile, frayed shoestring for tethering.

And overall? I really like this. hoguh the ache for things left behind is almost insurmountable, I know deep down that at somepoint I’ll return. Things probably will never be just like they were, but then they never were going to be that way anyway. In some ways this whole endeavour changes other things. In other, more important ways: I’m not sure it changes anything at all. But then we shall see, this adventure is only really beginning, my days of exile are still numbered in single figures!


1 Comment »


    READ! I need input!

    Comment by TheBaron — December 10, 2009 @ 7:29 am | Reply

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