A Familiar Farewell

It’s funny… Earth seems like such a large place until you dab your feet into each of her seas.  I feel so comfortable in New Zealand that it’s hard to believe the rush I felt as I exited the plane in Auckland eight months ago.  Everything was significant then – my first steps south of the equator, the cackling over kiwi accents and nights asleep underneath the stars of the southern hemisphere.  Everything was new and exciting.

Eight months in, I am burdened by speeding tickets, damages to the car, dwindling hours at work and escalating power bills.  The vacation morphed into the real world I thought I had escaped.  My child-like wonder for everything new will never pass, but in an attempt to escape the familiar, I have hit it head on.

However, it’s a detached familiarity.  There is a sad realization when you find that you have become numb to the here and there of life.  People you grow to cherish slide in and out of your life with an eerie ease.  You learn to treasure the now, catalogue the past, and look forever forward to the future for fear of tearing up over the could-have-been.

I came to this country halfway across the world alone.  In doing so, I allowed myself to become whoever and whatever I wanted without any tattlers from my past to call out my bluff.

Charles, my best friend growing up, went by Richard during the years he lived with his family in China.  He said he was a different person there.  He even had me convinced one cloudy autumn day that he had been a child spy that killed someone.  Another childhood friend, Elliot, was suddenly struck with agoraphobia and came back from his mental breakdown as John.

I always wanted that superhuman ability to change who I was.  But, if I’ve learned anything, solo travel only brings you closer to realizing who you are at the core.

So, it is with excitement and a slight hesitation that I head to the North Island to travel with my good friend Abby from home (that is to say one of the places I call home – the Virgin Islands).  I am leaving the South Island that I have grown so accustomed to, for a brief soirée with the North Island before I set out to dab my foot in another sea – before I get too comfortable again (or before the bills and tickets threaten to put me on the street).

But, before I go, here is one more look at the South Island.  I have moved every file off of my computer and onto an external hard drive just to keep up with the excessive amount of photos I have amassed.  If I told you how many pictures of sheep and cows I have slowing down my Mac right now you would surely buckle over.

As MarkontheMap approaches its 1st birthday, I am curious to hear what your favorite stories or photos were.  Or, if you have any suggestions or comments for the blog, I’d been keen to hear those as well.  It’s nice to get a little feedback once in a while.

Alas, here are a few shots (that never quite made the cut) that sum up the beauty, purity, and quietude of the South Island.


10 thoughts on “A Familiar Farewell

  1. Mark, this is a very emotional and touching story. I enjoyed this blog and the photos. Wishing you and Abby all the best with your reunion. I will miss you both back at “home” in just a couple of weeks. Carry on my friend and continue to write. Hearts, Marcy

  2. I loved this blog, but I also loved your people stories, the old man on the sheep ranch, the lady on the bus. I marvel at how you can get people to talk about themselves. I guess it’s because you are a good listener.

  3. So sorry to hear I have picked up this blog at the end.Perhaps you will continue to write here about your other trips as I have subscribed to read here, I can see you have an easy way of writing …good luck though, may it always always be fun and memorable…

  4. Mark – First off – Coolito went by Richard for a time in his life? Anyways I am loving your blog, I’m just sad its taken me so long to begin following it… my mother is also no avidly following your life too!

  5. Marky J!
    I loved this blog, it pulled at the ole heart strings for sure. This one is my favorite, plus the old man one, and a few others – the one when you describe the blue lake. All great. Glad you are following your heart and glad to be able to follow up with you on an ongoing basis as opposed to sending you an email out of the blue that says, “want to move to St. John?” after not talking to you for almost a year. =P I knew out of the 5 people I sent that email to, you would be the most likely to respond with a yes, and I knew that first day you walked into Theatre ii that you would be my friend. ‘Sometimes, you’re everything.’ This writing, is everything.
    Much love and peace my fwend.

  6. This and the recent post following your epic bike ride have been my favorites and you always have great pictures, but I must say that these little beauties that didn’t make the first cut are wonderful and I’m happy you gave them a second chance. I miss you tons and am incredibly jealous that you’re heading into the land of my heritage – pan-asia.

  7. Mark, I sometimes wonder if my experiences in living are like yours. I move, change jobs, volunteer for causes and find that I am really in the same situation that I left.

    The photos here are some of your best. What a beautiful island this is. You have inspired me to visit someday, but it seems so far away. Still, I won’t be going to VI next year and a month would be a decent time to travel.

    Keep well, Joan

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