My Life in New Zealand in a Well-Contained Nutshell

“That time I lived in a tent for two weeks . . . thank god for meeting those French boys who showed me the light . . . and more importantly, the necessity AND acceptability of having an air mattress complete with sheets, a pillow, and a comforter inside of your tent. Princess Camping.”

“That time McKenna and I watched LOTR and shamelessly experimented with Legolus braids.”

“That time I fed full-grown pigs expired Countdown baked goods and old fruit while wearing a blue jumper that made me look like one of the Butkis orphans from that Mary-Kate and Ashley movie, “It Takes Two.”

“That time I worked as an au pair and took the boys to the park with the eldest dressed as a lion.”

“That time I let my domestic side out to play without reservation and used a humongous bag of cherries—of questionable origin–found in the freezer of my new flat to bake my first cherry pie–with a lattice-woven crust to boot.”

“That first time I WWOOFed and detected a horrendous odor in my bedroom that, after a thorough inspection, yielded the skeletal remains of a mouse and a bird summoned to the other side via the stickiest glue known to man.”

“That time my five mile run home from work turned into a strange encounter with a bloody man in an alleyway and then a hot pursuit after him through the streets of Wellington. Good Samaritan Mission Fail.”

“That time I visited Brendan’s family’s farm in Levin and named a miniature horse “Chompa” because suspiciously, after residing in New Zealand for nearly six months, my ability to correctly pronounce the “er” at the end of a word greatly diminished. Favorite Kiwi-ism to sum it up: “I just can’t be fucked.”

“That time at the child care center in a room filled with two year olds when I was finally able to announce aloud without losing an ounce of self-respect: “Who’s got poos???” And then moments later, being able to effectively ferret out the culprit or culprits truly made me realize that I, without a doubt, had a gift . . . and that it was not one that anyone would actually ever want.”

“That time I was scolded by a crotchety French woman for putting petals from a foxglove plant (which is invasive to NZ ANYHOW) on my fingertips for a ridiculous selfie, after which her husband asked me to pose again so that he could ALSO photograph me on his camera behaving like a five year old . . . aka myself in nature.”

“That time McKenna and I played on a seesaw at Hobbiton and then amused ourselves by photographing monarch caterpillars. An American woman in the group with a seven year old daughter that was also enthralled by the caterpillars basically told us that she hoped her daughter would grow up to become like us. (One of my favorite compliments in NZ. Rock on, Mama!).”

“That time McKenna and I came across Mustache Cat in Auckland.”

“That time the Welly boys, Baby Swede, McKenna, and I got tipsy off wine and did a nighttime walk through the Botanical Gardens to see the glow worms.”

“That time I went to a Ceilidh and learned how to dance like a proper Scottish lass (sort of) and where McKenna and I also gave fitting names to all of the elderly persons in the room, which was pretty much everyone. “There’s Ira over there chatting it up with Bernadette.””

“That time that Brian came to visit me and I made him pose awkwardly in his newly-purchased (and naughty) Kiwi boxer shorts.”

“That time that McKenna and I made the acquaintance of Eliana, a wild and crazy Brazilian woman with a beautiful, giant heart and atrocious driving skills that invited us to store our backpacking gear at her summer cottage a mere three hours after meeting her and her ten year daughter (a Frida Kahlo lookalike if I ever saw one). Elian then drove us out into the back of beyond to do an overnight hike. My trust in other human beings greatly mounted while living in New Zealand.”

“That time, on the flip side, that an old Kiwi guy trusted THIS blonde girl enough to let me drive his boat around the Marlborough Sounds, so that I could follow his bubbles while he SCUBA dived for scallops for our dinner. Unbeknownst to him, I made a hell of a lot of circles with that keel.”

“That time–well, one of many–that I scooted to school with Emily, Josh, and James, my awesome kiddos I was an au pair for, enjoying every second of whizzing around on the footpath (I wanted so badly to write “sidewalk” there) and cherishing the simple (and greatest) moments in life.”

“That time McKenna and I picked apples and became obsessed with making playlists to match accordingly to our daily activities while WWOOFING, such as “Apple Picking” and “Peach Passion” for preserving peaches. Fun fact: the majority of songs with the word “peach” in it are in the hip hop genre. Think about it.”

“ALL the times I laughed hysterically when Kiwis mentioned their love for “native bush” and tramping.”

“That time Brendan and I walked for three hours in the pouring rain, laden down with heavy backpacks, unable to successfully hitch a ride from ANYONE in the hippie town of Nelson.”

“That time that Shelby and I had a deep talk with Bridal Veil Falls in the background and became inspired by the notion that you don’t need a photo of every single moment in your life. Some moments are best not captured on film.”

“That time McKenna and I started a Kpop dance party in the kitchen of a house where a birthday party was taking place and donned sequined masks that I randomly found hanging around.”

“That time the Americans outnumbered the lone Kiwi (Brendan) in the group and we climbed trees in the park, saw black rabbits that may or may not have been real, and reenacted our own version of a scene from a nonexistent ’90’s coming-of-age film where we chanted through the forest.”

“That time I celebrated my 27th birthday by buying a station wagon and eating gelato on a bench by myself and thinking that it was honestly, one of the most perfect birthdays I have ever had.”

“That time McKenna and I went on a My Little Pony-themed Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the lovely Marika and Jess.”

“That time I acquired a French lover and had sex with him three meters from a hiking trail, which spurred my passion for public indecency and exhibitionism.”

“That time I CouchSurfed in Porirua and spent my night doing “spots” with Uncle Gordon (who possessed approximately three teeth inside of his entire mouth) and did absolutely nothing afterwards besides pet a dog for countless hours and watch the garbage that is New Zealand’s version of “The Bachelor,” which in all fairness is garbage no matter which country’s version it is.”

“That time in Raglan when my yoga instructor refused to allow her participants to take a sip of water during her class because it would “put out the flame inside us” because we were “dragons.”

“That time I used my noodle and craftily exploited gyms throughout Wellington by getting trial memberships from every possible place in order to maintain my fitness and what little money I had.”

“That time I did a job interview in a grocery store parking lot over Skype on my phone and obliged to sing a children’s song to demonstrate my “teacherly” abilities. I was offered the job and prompted turned it down.”

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