Walkabout: Oriental Bay edition

Time flows swiftly now that I’m used to my abroad life. Every time I turn around, it seems that it’s the beginning of another new month, it baffles me that I’ve already been in Wellington for almost 3.5 months.

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That homesickness creeps in sometimes, especially on cold nights like tonight. I think back to those warm San Diego nights, exploring beautiful beaches and eating burritos under the moonlight, swinging on a playground, laughing, trying to pick out constellations on our smartphones, and unaware of where a year and a half later would lead me, and where my heart would be.

San Diego Adventures

Moving abroad is an emotional roller coaster, at least for me. So much constant change takes apart your life, piece by piece, and makes you take a step back to really look at who you are, and where you want to go. Surprisingly, you get used to the change, the constant moves, the lack of stable ground, and you realize all you have is the ability to fall back on yourself and your own strength.

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There were a lot of up and downs I had during my year in Australia, and I’m still comprehending what all of those good and bad times meant to me. There are moments I cherish, and others that still haunt me in a whirlwind of what ifs. The hardest thing I’ve tried to teach myself this year is to not look back and dwell on the past.

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What I’ve realized about my time in Australia, is that most times, I tended to focus on the easy choices but not necessarily the most beneficial ones. Yes, travel and new experiences were what I craved on a daily basis, but I always fell back to my comfort zone of romantic entanglements time and time again to give me that sense of belonging. And of course, romantic entanglements abroad usually end up making you feel the opposite of contentment.

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What I’ve found in New Zealand, is that I really like who I am without a “somebody” in my life. Selfish as it may sound, I believe your 20s are a time to focus on yourself. And, as much as I try to practice “unattached living”, when it comes to relationships, I’m hopeless.

Attachment sneaks up on me and steals the contentment I felt in the beginning stages of a casual romance. As I like to say, I don’t do anything half-ass. I care for people easily and emphatically, a trait I’d like to see as a strength, but one that I still need to hone and work on as I tend to let myself get hurt too easily.

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I still get those homesick moments on cold nights, and mostly when I haven’t seen the sun in a week, but I’ve found a contentment in New Zealand that I hardly ever felt in Australia, and I think a large part of that is my conscious decision to be alone.

I spend my time on budding friendships that I know will last for a long time to come, reading every genre of book imaginable, working hard and getting promoted to a management position at my job, taking solo hikes and adventuring around Wellington with friends or on my own, my passion for writing, both in words and in music.

And somehow, I’ve found a peaceful fulfillment.

When I do let my mind wander to the past, it makes me thankful for the people I’ve loved and let into my life. I’ve known love twice and experienced it to its fullest, and I am very grateful to have found that and to still have those people in my life as good friends. For all of those friends and family members who will always stand by me and have my back, who only show me unconditional love even when I decide to move halfway across the world, all I can say is, I’m incredibly lucky.

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I know when the time is right, I’ll find what I’m looking for on the other end, but I don’t feel a rush or constant need like I used to. And I’m quite happy to have found this happy place in as dramatically beautiful of a place as New Zealand.

Last week, I finally made my way to Oriental Bay, the closest beach to the city. It wasn’t a particularly warm day, but there was intermittent sunlight, and the clouds were amazing. I have a thing for clouds, especially when there are planes getting lost in them, they make me a weird amount of happy.

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Can You Spot The Plane?

I was smitten with Oriental Bay, and I definitely want to spend some quality time hanging out on the little beach when the weather warms up in Spring. I also found more Kiwi houses to dote on, all of the ones around Oriental Bay and up on the hill are so colorful and adorable.

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From Oriental Bay, I continued on along the curve of the land to Roseneath, and found my way down Evans Bay Parade, where I turned towards home near Kilbirnie. I could barely move my hands by the time I arrived home, I was so cold, but it was a a walk well worth the freezing temperatures, to take in more of the Wellington coastline, and to wrangle in my walkabout thoughts that seem to always cloud my brain when I haven’t had an afternoon to myself in awhile.

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From how miserable I was when I first arrived in Wellington, to being doubtful about surviving the horrendous windy weather (actually, I still am), I’m happy to have recently found some serious contentment in the place that I’ve made for myself here. A place I don’t mind calling home for still awhile yet.

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California may have my heart, but New Zealand has my gratitude.

My happy place: Writing Music

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Mimi McFadden
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Mimi McFadden

Travel Writer/Blogger at The Atlas Heart
Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.
Mimi McFadden
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