August 10, 2018
It’s 2am and I’m traveling across the Pacific ocean, ensconced against my window. The couple next to me is fast asleep–the woman twitching her foot now and then, making my socked toes cringe. Her husband gently snores and attempts to roll onto his side–a losing proposition in our cramped space. The roar of the jet engines on this 787 makes enough white noise to lull off most the passengers, but in spite of not sleeping well last night, I’m wide awake. The excitement and trepidation of this new chapter of my life keeps my heart racing and my mind hamster wheeling.
Who does this? I just left my entire known world behind–my two adult daughters, my mother, my beloved friends, my identity. I turned off the lights in my vacated home, locked the doors, and boarded a plane. Soon, someone will buy my home of the last ten years and raise their own children there, make their own memories, and whatever mark I made will be forgotten. They won’t know I finished the attic, designed that space myself. They won’t know I wrote my first novel sitting at a desk by the window, gazing over the river and imagining a world in which my characters could reside. And they won’t know all the struggles and hardships we endured as a family nor the incredible strength we found in each other within those walls. All that “was” will reside in me, and I am now far, far away.
I ended up on this plane because nothing in my life has gone according to plan. I married very young (It would have been my 30th anniversary this week), but that was “Before.” That woman no longer exists–the one who believed she had control of her destiny—the one before my life went down a new, unexpected path. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I’ve learned everything that anchored me to that life had to burn to the ground first. It scorched me, but I’ve been transformed.
They say not getting what you want can be a wonderful stroke of good luck, and I now know that’s true. Because my marriage didn’t last, because I didn’t get tenure at my university, because my heart was broken several times over, because I lost my research funding, because of all that loss and much more, I was granted the most wonderful gift: Freedom–a chance to put myself first and do whatever I wanted for me.
I wrote a novel, I became a scuba diving instructor, I improved my Japanese, I traveled all around the world, and when I saw my dream job posting for a university in New Zealand, I took a deep breath and applied. Lo and behold, they chose me over all other candidates to join them! I’m still astounded by my good fortune, and I intend to make the most of this chance to live the life I’ve always wished to have.
I also want you to be able to vicariously experience this journey through my blog. This is the first entry. Going forth, this blog will be a combination of my thoughts and impressions of Kiwi Land, along with a “how to” for anyone thinking they’d like to expatriate here, too.
I will hashtag my posts with #kiwidiary for ease of reference, but you’re also welcome to sign up for my blog to get notified of each entry. Just go to deborahmunroauthor.com, and scroll down the page to where you’ll see a forms to sign up for my blog and/or my bimonthly newsletter (which contains updates on my book, information on the craft of writing, interviews, and sometimes my science articles). I’d be delighted to see you’ve joined.