Four months. It’s been four long, tear stained and skype-saturated months since I have seen my darling Tom. Since we said our goodbyes at Heathrow airport last October, my boyfriend of over three years jetting off to start a PhD in Christchurch, NZ, so much has happened. I moved to Peru, as expected, and very unexpectedly returned. I have questioned my life aspirations and discovered what means the most to me. I have battled with crooked companies to retrieve thousands of hard-earned pounds. I have seen my dad – a long-suffering victim of mental illness – get better, and then get spectacularly worse. I almost lost him. I have fallen apart and put myself back together more times than I can count. I spent hours playing ping pong in a psychiatric hospital. I have watched my niece grow from a sleepy newborn to a mischievous, mobile little monkey. I stared in disbelief as Trump was elected, inaugurated and lay waste to Western values. I protested. Friends gained jobs, moved cities, got engaged, I waited, and waited, and waited for the visa that would bring us back together at last.
Finally, armed with diazepam and Harry Potter audiobooks, I’m sat in departures at Heathrow airport, anxiously awaiting the first of my two eleven hour flights. I’ve said all my gut-wrenching goodbyes – something I intend to blog about once I’m settled – and against all odds my adventure down under has begun. My visa was issued on the very last day I could have received it, exactly ninety-eight minutes before the office closed. By this point, I had honestly resigned myself to the fact I would not be going. Everyone had given up. It was two days before my flight, which I was planning to ring up and cancel – I knew I wasn’t entitled to a refund, but thought it was worth a try – and I was attempting to mentally prepare for the inevitable: the date of our long-planned reunion would come and go, and Tom would remain an unattainable collection of pixels. I was sat with my dad, trying to cheer him up after the latest avalanche of life’s finest bullshit, when my phone buzzed. As with every time this had happened over the past month, I leapt to see the source – an email. And not just any email. Adrenaline shot through me as I saw the sender and tried to stay calm enough to read the text.
“Your application has now been completed and your visa has been issued. You will receive this within the next few days.”
HOLY FUCKING SHIT.
I stared in complete shock. What?! What does this mean?! “Issued” – so, accepted?! YES! But – “a few days” – did this mean I would get it in time?! Emails flew back and forth, and eventually amongst the garbled panic of messages it was established that the only way to guarantee I had it for Saturday was to drive to the embassy and collect it. So at 6am the following morning, the day before my scheduled flight, my mum donned her superwoman cloak and we flew South down the motorway to the New Zealand embassy.
Needless to say, I collected the hallowed document without a hitch – well, other than the closed Jubilee line provoking a minor detour and a stoke of panic in my driving-unknown-routes-phobic mother. When I opened the package to check everything was there, I couldn’t even find the damn visa – turns out it’s just an inconspicuous sticker in the middle of my passport, nothing like the magnificent, life-saving certificate I envisioned. So much stress for such a tiny thing… I’m pretty sure that’s reminiscent of a LOTR quote, ironically enough.
So, it’s really happening. I’m emigrating to New Zealand, just 48 hours after finding out it was possible. Talk about being unprepared – although I don’t know that something this huge is something you CAN prepare for. I feel like I am about to take a blind leap into the deep unknown. It’s terrifying and exhilarating – and not just because I’m petrified of flying. My mind is whirlwind of impossible questions: Will it meet my long-held expectations? Where will I end up working? How will I make friends? How does x, y & z work there compared to in the UK? Will Tom and I have the same bond, just picking up from where we left off? And crucially: Will it all have been worthwhile?
There are a few things I am certain of. After all this time, and everything that has happened, I am so ready for my clean slate. But most of all, I just want a cuddle from my person.