New Zealand Adventure Chapter 1: Running Away
I have no idea what I’m doing.
I just wanted to clear that up in case you thought I somehow had my shit together. Yes, I'm freshly graduated from college, I have an idea of what I want to do and a plan to make it happen, but there are still so many things that can go wrong and so many ways I can still fuck it up. What I'm talking about is the fact that I'm moving to New Zealand in 23 days. I plan to be there as long as my working holiday visa allows- which is a year. And In case you haven't gathered this- I'm FREAKING OUT (but in a good way, I think?)
But why New Zealand, of all places? Well, let me refer you back to the opening sentence for that one: I don't know. I mean, any time you see a movie that's set in a scenic place, it usually turns out to be New Zealand. Then there's also the fact that it’s one of the countries where I can get a working-holiday visa. Besides that, I’ve got nothing but a gut feeling and a random urge to go there. I also just need to GO somewhere, and why not New Zealand?
But why am I doing this you ask? Well the answers I have locked and loaded for family reunions are that know I want to do travel writing, I need to add to my portfolio, and I wanted to travel more after college before looking for a "real job".
But the truth is, I'm running away.
Yes, my family knows where I’m going and I’m not burning my wallet and hitching a ride to a remote bus in the Alaskan wilderness Chris McCandless style, but in the end running away is exactly what I’m doing. As Paul Theroux wrote in The Last Train to Zona Verde, “I was hurrying away from my routine and my responsibilities and my general disgust with fatuous talk, money talk, money stories, the donkey laughter at dinner parties… It was travel as rejection, as though in leaving I was saying to those fatuous people, take that. And perhaps hoping they’d say afterward, what happened? Where is he? Was it something I said?”
Now, friends and family reading, before you get your panties in a wad thinking I’m referring to you, (“who are you saying laughs like a donkey young lady!”) It’s not that. What I’m really running away from is the expected. I’m running away from the fact that I’m 22 and still have had as much romance in my life as your typical nun, while my friends from high school and college are posting baby bumps and engagement rings on their Facebook walls. Meanwhile, I'm unsure if those are things i'll ever want...
I’m running away from words like “realistic” and “plan” and the ever-marching bastard that is Time shouting into one of those microphone cone things (MEGAPHONE…thanks Google) at me to get my shit together before it’s too late. I mean, fuck that guy, am I right?
But really, what good adventure starts with the protagonist knowing what the fuck is going on? Would The Hobbit have been as compelling if Bilbo leapt into his journey with no hesitation, knowing everything would turn out fine? Would the Harry Potter series feel the same if Harry had known he was a wizard his whole life and that the good guys would ultimately win?
Here's an alternate scene for you:
Hagrid: You're a wizard, Harry!
Harry: Yeah I know, and I'm going to defeat Voldemort and a lot of my friends will die but everything will be okay in the end.
See, it just doesn't have the same effect, does it? That's because the most important part of any adventure story is the worst for the protagonist. An adventure is not an adventure without a struggle, without doubt. Only in retrospect can you look back and see what the real destination was: that perfect place of excited uncertainty.
So in conclusion...