I’ve always looked at my life, as I would say most people do, as a series of chapters. As one chapter ends, another begins… and with each new chapter a part of me is complete and a part of me is reborn.
There have been the school years, the teenage years, emigrating to New Zealand, my first boyfriend, my first job, moving back to England, travelling Europe and Asia, moving back to New Zealand, University, travelling America, moving to London… your daddy… back to New Zealand, getting married, getting pregnant, getting you…
That’s the birds eye view of it – but within each of those ‘chapters’ there are mini chapters too – the phases, stages, and seasons – such as the various jobs I have had, courses I have taken, plays I have been in, the start and end of relationships, moving homes, illnesses, losses, gains, achievements, lessons, and so many things.
At various points in my life I have really become fixated on this idea of ‘chapters’ and of various experiences being over – I have grieved those parts of my life that have finished and felt overwhelmed by it at times. Again, this is something most people will feel at some time or another… such as no longer being pregnant, or no longer having a newborn, or no longer having a particular job, or a certain relationship… or no longer living in a certain place…
For me, this fixation on the past has been exacerbated, not in the least, by the number of times I have moved countries, homes, and felt a cultural clash and identity shift between the UK and New Zealand. I adore both countries, and feel so grateful to genuinely have a home in two places, and every single day I feel happiness, but big change (even good change) can be extremely unsettling. And there was always that little niggle – of one life on pause, whilst I am over ‘here’ living another. And the big question of ‘when will I go back.’
That changed, however, when I had you – that little niggle went away. After 15 years, it finally stopped. Your daddy captured my heart of course, and I always knew I would be wherever he would be – but we talked of taking a big trip to the UK together. When it wasn’t consuming my thoughts, it was always there in the back of mind. But then, just as we were about to book our tickets, I discovered you. And then, you arrived – and as you were born into your life, I was born a New Zealander.
I am finally a New Zealander, in my heart, because of you. And that niggle has gone away completely – I’m right here, right now, and not wondering when the ‘next trip back’ will be. Instead, we have postponed the UK trip once again, and we are taking you on holiday to New Caledonia, a tropical island close to New Zealand – for sun, relaxation, and nothing more than the absolute frivolity of going somewhere new. It was a big deal for me to postpone “the UK trip” once again, not knowing when it will actually happen – but on doing so I felt an unexpected sense of cathartic release. I felt free.
That’s certainly not to say that becoming a New Zealander “in my heart,” means I am no longer British, that I disconnect from my past – because it doesn’t. Nor does it mean that I won’t miss aspects of Britain – because I do, and always will. It just means that the niggle to be somewhere else has gone and, finally, I am right here, right now, and I am grounded; laying new roots.
I can’t tell you how empowering and liberating and joyous this feels for me.
In this same light, yesterday was a really great day. You were feeling unwell and hadn’t got much sleep the night before (that’s not the great bit!) and so your daddy and I decided not to take you swimming (in fact, this was a really disappointing bit – it’s our weekly highlight!), so I kept you at home all morning and we just relaxed. Then, we drove into the City (this is the start of the good bit) to catch up with my old colleagues – it was so lovely to see them all, such wonderfully bright, caring, and interesting people. I don’t miss my old job at the University, but I sure miss their company each day. And you seemed to know them, and enjoyed all of their cuddles and attention.
Afterwards we caught up with an old flatmate of mine from London – he was studying at Medical school when I lived with him and now he is working as a Doctor here in Auckland (although, he was just about to get on a plane to go back for a while – poor love, NZ has stolen his heart too! – he’ll be back). I haven’t seen him in nearly 4 years; when he knew me then I was blonde (until I came home from work one day with jet black hair!), and I was single, and I was acting, and I was in a very different ‘chapter’ in my life. I thought seeing him would bring back memories of ‘me then’, which would be lovely and curious, but that maybe I wouldn’t know how to talk to him because I am changed now and he might feel awkward. But it was not like that at all.
We grinned from the moment we saw each other, all through our conversation of ‘life as it is now,’ all through the aspects of our reminisce, and all through our farewell – as we silently acknowledged that he was going back to a place we both knew, as much as we knew he would return here someday again. We grinned because it was him, and because it was me – just as we always were and still are. He brought my London chapter into my current chapter, and he held you, and it was all a sense of connection.
As I walked back to the car with you (I parked in my old office’s carpark), pushing your pram up the hill I used to walk (waddle) when pregnant – I started to do the old thing of ‘remember that time I worked at the University… remember that time I was here and pregnant…’ and suddenly it stopped. That conversation in my head stopped. The shop on the corner sells the same smelling bread. The shop next door still entices me with art supplies I wouldn’t know what to do with. The sun still reflects off the office block’s windows…
I closed my eyes and it was all there, still. It wasn’t gone. The time I was pregnant is still now – only I carry you in my arms instead of my tummy. The time I was planning my Wedding is still now – only I am not newly wed, I am married. The time I worked at the University is still now – I still know and care for my colleagues, I still have the skills I developed, the lessons I learned. That time I lived in London is still now …. everything. It’s still the same as it was.
Baby – yesterday, for the first time, I felt all of my chapters connect. And for once I felt the reality of life as it actually is – one continuous journey. I was and am and always will be me. Just as you were, and are, and always will be you. I no longer need to remember or keep in touch with those previous chapters of my life – because they are all still with me, still part of me. And, most of all, I no longer need to feel torn between two places. Because I am right here, in my entirety.
Baby, we will get to the UK together. Someday. And I will introduce you to your English family and show you and your daddy all of the most beautiful parts of my native country. And someday, maybe, we might even live there for a while. The future is full of possibilities, spreading out before us like the waves of the vast ocean – but, until then, I am right here, right now. And I am loving it all.
Thank you for the lessons you don’t realise you are teaching me.
I love you so much, Beau.