As I write this it is Monday evening and I’m the Wellington YHA common room, watching a dozen Asian & European 20-somethings eat, drink and socialize around me. I’m somewhat tuned out — listening to music while I type on my computer as I don’t feel up to cultivating a new set of friends-for-a-day. This past weekend involved several heavy bouts of socializing: After work ping-pong at BizDojo and then BYO Mongolian grill with coworking folks on Friday, and a 11-bar fresh-hop-a-palooza with 17 Kiwis, a confused-Canadian-with-an-Irish-accent, a Japanese homebrewer, and one quite dedicated Finnish gentleman with over 4000 beers reviewed since 2012 (that averages out to reviewing 2 beers a day… every day for 5 years straight). Tack on a sociable frenchman in my hostel room and now I’m quite content to kick back and ruminate. The topic for the evening: Music.
Living abroad during this turbulent time in the US is both a blessing and a curse. I’d like to say it’s easy to check out and ignore the insanity that’s happening in the horrifying circus that is the American government right now, but it really isn’t. Whenever I log on to Facebook there it is, smacking me in the face.
I suppose it’s that way with everyone, no matter where you are.
Walt thinks I’m nuts, but to help me feel connected to the onslaught of issues facing our country I have subscribed to a steady diet of political podcasts. Just a few of my favorites at the moment are The Daily, Pod Save America, and The Ezra Klein Show. And as a member of my local public radio station (❤️ you, KUOW), I have a huge soft spot in my heart for all things NPR, so of course I queue up the NPR Politics Podcast as soon as they come out every week.
And when they asked for listeners to call in and provide their voices for the podcast time stamp (“This podcast was recorded at…” [the NPR podcast crew inserts time here] “… things may have changed by the time you hear it!…”), of course, I sent in my cut. And promptly forgot about it.
That was about a month ago.
Fast forward to this morning.
Walt and I are celebrating a pretty big milestone: today is the halfway mark of our year abroad. I’ve been so distracted by work and travel logistics recently that this anniversary of sorts almost went unnoticed, but there it is. It makes sense in my head, then, that Walt and I have organically started talking about pretty big things – what life looks like after this trip, how we want to engage in our communities and careers, and what sort of goals we want to have going forward as a couple. You know, big adult-y stuff.
But before we commited too much time to our pie-in-the-sky ideas of our plans for the future, I figured I could use a quick gut check on where I’m at this moment in our journey… and honestly, I think past Kylie may be pleasantly surprised.
There were many folks we bid farewell to when we left on this journey, and with technology as it is today, we’ve been able to stay in close contact with friends and family back home. Yes, I get homesick and miss the feeling of physically being with my loved ones, but this trip is only for a year. I know I’ll be reunited with the all of the people I left behind.
Everyone, it seems, but one.
It was so lovely to wake up at Miter Peak Lodge this morning. Watching the sun slowly creeping into the fiord is a special sight; there is only one lodge on Milford Sound and its nearly always at capacity with Ultimate Hikes tours like ours. The majority of the people who come into see Milford sound bus in from Te Anau or Queenstown, and by then the sun is already high in the sky. The crisp morning air seemed like a secret that we were privy to, and I was happy to soak it all in.
Our day today consisted of an hour long boat cruise of the sound and a bus ride back to Queenstown to conclude our Milford adventure. The cruise was breathtaking, especially because of the morning sun throwing sharp rays of warm light onto the steep walls of the sound. Usually packed with tourists clamoring to see one of New Zealand’s natural treasures, we our boat ride was pleasantly uncrowded, only filled with our hiking group.