So Christchurch is your high school sweetheart. Dependable, good looking, reliable income, someone you can take to a work event and have no fear of embarrassment. But in your twenties you start to wonder if more exploration is needed before settling down for good. A fling with London seems like a great idea! Maybe a year, two tops. London is sexy and fast paced though, full of excitement, she lets you down constantly and delivers highs like no other. She’s the antithesis of the high school sweetheart and somehow your couple of years turns into most of your adult life. In a reverse trend of a mid-life crisis, as you approach forty you start to wonder about beautiful, reliable Christchurch who you could happily grow old with, fingers entwined as you toddle down the beach with a flask of tea. Sounds dreamy, right?
One problem with affairs, I would imagine, is that you’re spoilt for choice and constantly compare. When London exhibits testing behaviours, you think Christchurch would NEVER do that; come back to the house late at night with loads of mates and play Horsemeat Disco at speaker busting volumes. Christchurch, ahhh, so lovely and peaceful. Filled with reunion excitement, you fly in and soak up the tranquillity and feel at one with the world. For a day. And then you think, did I say peaceful? More like in a bloody coma. Where the hell is everyone? And so, within months, you return to vibrant, tempestuous, leather-clad London with her pubs, packed cobbled streets and the dynamic cultural pockets of each compass point. Then the voices start; hang on, I just want some space, to be away from people stepping on my heels as I walk down the street. No, I want an anonymous nightclub where nobody judges me for dancing at this age. No, I REALLY want to sleep without ear-plugs, without the sound of sirens and waking up to horrifying news alerts. And I want to drive places, be in my car and not have to deal with body odour in rammed tubes. But then how do I get home after a few drinks? No, I LOVE the tube. And Marks and Sparks. But the food in New Zealand just tastes so outrageously good! Yeah and one supermarket shop costs the equivalent of semi-detached house in Leicester. But, terrorism! But, earthquakes! And so on and so forth until each location has a defence case strong enough to force a hung jury.
The reality is that no location is perfect, no job is perfect, no relationship, no friendship, no family is perfect. Comparing and contrasting instead of focussing on the richness of our circumstance, on the boxes that are ticked, will leave us drinking from a half empty glass. While I miss the pubs and parks of London and the constant buzz of potential excitement, I also thrive on running in the hills looking out on a landscape that encompasses mountains, beaches, coves, plains, rivers and a brave half built city that is slowly arising from the dust clouds. Focussing on the positives isn’t always easy, but I figure it’s the best way to pass through this transitional phase, until one day maybe I’ll find myself just existing somewhere day-to-day, without reminiscing about another life, another location. And far from being conflicted, I feel relaxed that I’ll find my niche somewhere and am incredibly grateful that I made the move back to New Zealand to start a new adventure.
But to save all this emotional roller coastering, maybe we could hand over our geographic destinies to an app, like we do our romantic ones. Plug in your deal-breakers, your essential must-haves and see what it spits out. City Tinder. Left swipe, left swipe, left swipe. Oh, look it’s Wellington! We had that brief fling during our uni days, remember? You’re still kinda cute! Notoriously bad wind though. Oh hey, nobody’s perfect. Fancy a drink?