I’m getting excited. In two weeks, for the first time in my life, I’m travelling to a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The island – Fiji! This is going to be a lot of firsts for me. I’ve never been to a tropical island. I’ve never swam in warm tropical waters, obviously. And I’ve never been somewhere so far out in the middle of the ocean before. I’m super stoked. So stoked that I don’t even have a real plan. But I do know I want to learn to SCUBA dive while I’m there, or at least see if I like it. So I’ve decided no plans are necessary. I’ve booked in my first night at Smugglers Cove in Nadi just so I have a starting point. I know there are things I want to do and see, so I can’t wait for that adventure to begin.
This means I have two weeks left in New Zealand. And to be honest, I can’t wait to get home. The weather this summer has been terrible and while I made the most of it, I suffered financially. Tourism in the Abel Tasman was down this year. Combine that with the strong NZD and people just weren’t spending money like they did two years ago. Numbers at the dropzone were down and that didn’t help much with the pay cut that came into effect in December. And then there was all the money I had to spend on doctors to figure out what is wrong with me. It’s money well spent, but the illness alone has been a frustrating and difficult struggle.
But I did make it to the beach quite a bit. And we had plenty of barbecues and nights out on the piss. And while I only got in two skydives due to my menagerie of health issues, I had a great time at the DZ. I did a quick two day trip up to Wellington on the North Island. And this time I actually went for a good hike in the national park. I didn’t, however, get to Queenstown, but I can live with that. I’ve been there before. And I didn’t get to work on my camera flying because of my elbow. But I have no regrets. I’m still glad I came back to Motueka.
I did accomplish one major thing here, the one thing I really hoped to accomplish by returning to New Zealand. There was a lot of regret after Dave died. I spent that last winter so far from him and I regretted telling him that he couldn’t come with me. I could never have known that we didn’t have all the time in the world, but that didn’t stop it from occupying my mind so wholly. So coming back was important for me to forgive myself. To let me see that shit just happens. My acupuncturist gave me a great idea. I wrote Dave a very very long letter. I spilled my guts out. I told him everything. Every regret. Every shame. Every hurt. Every pain. Every love. And then I went to the water when the tide was out. I walked way out onto the sandbar and I lit that letter on fire. I took a picture of him with me and had him watch. And as the ashes blew away and scattered into the sea I took off the necklace Dave tied around my neck in November of 2009 before we said good-bye for the winter. A huge lump formed in my throat just then. I could barely breathe. I cried and cried and somehow that lump began to dissolve. That necklace was like a leash holding me to him. But as I took it off I allowed myself to let go of him. The obligation I felt began to disappear. I feel a sense of freedom now that I have been longing for quite some time. I will always love him and he will have a place in my heart, but I am no longer obligated to him. I am free.
So New Zealand was a success and a failure, but I never came here for the money. And now I get to reward myself with a trip to a beautiful and friendly place – and I think that’s an amazing way to celebrate coming back to life.