Home, (Bitter) Sweet Home.

Wellington Harbour. Photo taken by Mr. PD Nairn whose got a real talent for capturing the beauty, magic and love that this place has on offer.

For the past three months, I lived a big, free, happy, unusual life.

Now, I am back in New Zealand.

It’s a beautiful Autumn day in Wellington. The sun in shining. There is a light, crisp breeze running through the cleanest air I have ever known. A perfect day.

And I must go to the Warehouse (NZ’s Walmart equivalent) and buy hangers and a new dish washing scrubber.


Last night, I went out for beers and paid $10.00 for each pint (the equivalent of 11 or 12 beers in Vietnam). I feel asleep around 11:00 pm and woke up promptly at 2:00 am, my cursed witching hour, when all semi-stressful things in life have been known to suddenly appear gigantic and unending.

Must find phone charger. Must find job. Must book doctors appointment. Must call mother. Must, must, must…

The most unnerving thing about coming home from a trip is realizing that life has just gone on without you. This sounds selfish because of course it has.

Dishes still need to be done. Bills need to be paid. Home hasn’t magically morphed into something better. And most scarily, my annoyances, “quirky” personality traits, and 2:00 am insomnia are still here. I still whine like crazy (take this blog post for an acute example) and while I have a better idea as to what I’d like to do/accomplish, I still have the stifling fear of beginning and committing.


Usually, I don’t leave home to travel from a necessarily happy place. I may be breaking some psychological rule, but in some ways, I leave to escape. To escape mediocre jobs, difficult relationships, the mundane day-to-day life of being “adult” and all that comes along with it.

This trip to Vietnam was no exception. The truth is that while I left New Zealand in a much better place than I left America for Vietnam three years ago, I was still getting away from it all. I wanted to relearn how to be independent, how to have unequivocal fun, and how to be brave and be open to a world that gives us so much if we just let it.

Bluntly, simply put: My trip to Vietnam was fucking huge success. Bigger, better and more life changing than I could have ever expected.

I was looking back through my old blog posts, and reread “Finding the Words” where I seemed to be so ecstatically caught up in the beauty of my experiences and asked myself the optimistic question on how I could fully live “the designs of a world unfolding” after I returned.

Can’t say that I figured it out.

But I don’t think I could have answered this question while I was still in Vietnam. Because I was actually too busy. Too busy being happy and open to life that I didn’t stress about how I was going to be just as happy and open to life when I got back to New Zealand.

It’s easy when you are traveling. Life simply presents its wonders to you in such a stark, obvious way that any traveler would be moronic to not feel them.

It’s the homecoming that presents the biggest challenges. It’s about dealing with the fact that life is a little more elusive with its magic than it is while on the road.

A lot of people talk about how brave it is to travel. But I think real bravery is traveling, coming home, and having the courage to let your experiences change you in ways that are possible and accept there are other things in life that won’t change. And to do it all with a grace that somehow makes this truth beautiful in its own right.

Wellington Harbour. Photo taken by Mr. PD Nairn whose got a real talent for capturing the beauty, magic and love that this place has on offer.
Wellington Harbour. Photo taken by Mr. PD Nairn whose got a real talent for capturing the beauty, magic and love that this place has on offer.

2 thoughts on “Home, (Bitter) Sweet Home.

  1. I can relate to all you’ve said about homecoming Mai. In recent days I wanted to weep about the ordinariness of it all. I miss Thailand like its a dear friend. But thank god we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit and then lust for distant shores. And in the end we come home to love, and, happily, to plan the next trip.

    1. Beautifully said. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. It’s all a little bit ironic like that. Nonetheless, its a pretty damn wonderful thing to have a home and people waiting for us on the other end, too.

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