Letters to a Friend: Mama I’m Coming Home

Thursday 18th September, 2014: Pt Chevalier, Auckland, New Zealand (Caroline to Katharine)

The green, green grass of home

The green, green grass of home

Dear Friend,

I’m home. Just to say it feels good. But here’s the thing: both Jez and I feel completely weighed down by things. We have so much stuff. After living out of two suitcases between four of us for two months, every bulging bookcase, every box of toys and every pile of fluffy towels feels heavy and, well, excessive. Everywhere I look there are things to put away, to mend, to take to the hospice shop, to get the tradey back to fix. How can even our most precious things – our paintings, our mementos, even books – feel so heavy?

A bow from our wedding cake, counting beans from Granddad Hardie, a shell from Pt Chev beach, Grandpa's war medals...

A bow from our wedding cake, counting beans from Granddad Hardie, a shell from Pt Chev beach, Grandpa’s war medals…

I've missed you, books

I’ve missed you, books

Here is my question to you – how do we bring the simplicity and slowed heart-rate from our time away back into real life? Perhaps it’s as simple as choosing to do it; grabbing the ‘zen-ness’ with all our might and tying it to the nearest fencepost (or more likely, washing line).

Washing line zen

Hopefully our washing lines look like this…

…and not like this

…and not like this

I began this letter thinking it was the end of something, but it may actually be the beginning: moving from stories of travel to ‘de-briefing’ and reminding each other how beautiful life can be when you just. slow. down.


My smiles began the moment I stepped over the threshold of flight NZ0080 from Hong Kong to Auckland – “Hoy there, welcome. Just turn to the luft and take your sate”. Seeing Maori faces on the crew made me realize they’d been missing from my vision for two months. (It also reminded me how close I am to facing my next big writing project…but more on that in person, baby). New Zealanders have a certain look about them: an open frankness, a no-bullshit realism, and a slightly apologetic way of holding themselves – all part of the Rubik’s Cube of being a Kiwi from this quirky, post-colonial place we call home.

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 1.28.57 PM

As if my re-immersion into beautiful, little Aotearoa wasn’t complete, the hostie assigned to our section was my sister-in-law Wandzia’s good friend (who incidentally was celebrating her 29th year of working as a flight attendant “and still loving it”). Then I watched an incredible new Kiwi flick, Dark Horse, starring Cliff Curtis as a chubby, bi-polar, Maori, genius chess player trying to save his nephew from gang life, and teaching kids to play chess to stay sane. OK, so it sounds like an unlikely winner but Curtis was incredible and I was moved by the based-on-real-life story. It has Kiwi Classic written all over it, Once Were Warriors style. Can I blame my tears on the altitude (again)?

Dark horse

Cliff Curtis as Genesis Potini in “Dark Horse”. Photo credit to Four Knights Films.


It’s 7.35pm and we’ve been in our PJs since 4pm trying to keep the girls awake. Lights out now. I have my laptop by the bed for the inevitable 4am wakeup. But whenever I do wake up, it will be in my own perfect bed next to the most patient, loving, fun travel companion of all time. I am not the same person who woke up here two months ago. I am braver and happier. I know where I am going.

Let’s promise ourselves and each other to fight the normalcy that will sneak back into our lives faster than an Elam student to a wine-sponsored gallery opening. And normalcy, dear friend, is what should be avoided at all costs.

Love you,

Caroline xxx

3 thoughts on “Letters to a Friend: Mama I’m Coming Home

  1. Dear Caroline
    Have just been reading LoveWordsMusic; in the essence of your letter to Katherine, I too have been trying to hang on to the simple life after 4 weeks away and one bag between us. This means less internet for one thing hence my delay in catching up with you here. Then as I was reading I started looking round my kitchen and thinking it could do with a dose of the 3 rule! I sure as hell don’t need 10 wooden spoons and I’m sure there’s plenty more like that!
    Hanging on to the tent life and looking outwards tomorrow; meeting a friend for a walk rather than worrying about the dust… Let the Good Life roll!
    Loads of love to you all


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s