Homesickness is a bitch. There’s not really any other way I can put it.
It took me about 9 months before I had what I would call true homesickness. My first real “bout” of it was a few weeks after my mom visited. I think it started with it going into winter here while it was getting warmer in Pittsburgh. The Pens then won the cup and then I think it hit a peak the week Pittsburgh totally killed it with a U2 concert at Heinz Field on Wednesday, the Tom Petty concert at Consol on Friday, LGBT weekend throughout the city, and the Pens championship parade the following Wednesday. A pretty good week for a city the size of the Burgh. We don’t get these kind of events in Christchurch…even after the Kiwis brought the America’s cup back to NZ.
I guess the homesickness lasted about 3 weeks or so. I can’t really give it a true definition but I can tell you it involved a lot of crying and emotion. All different types of crying – the casual tears before going to the gym or doing other mundane tasks to the uncontrolled sobbing where I was inconsolable. It has also played with my sanity a little bit. If you ask Anthony to describe me, he will say “Map (and hold his hands up as if there is a map in them), you (and point to a bunch of different places on the fake map). You’re all over it!” While I don’t like being all over the map, he is absolutely right. It is now a running joke and pretty funny when he points it out like that. On that note, you can scroll to the end of this post to check out some pics that are unrelated.
I pulled myself out of the funk just in time to head to Auckland for GABS (Great Australasian Beer Spectacular) weekend. It was going to be a weekend of shopping, hanging out with Auckland peeps, and going to the beer festival. As a side note, the beer festivals in New Zealand are so amazing and totally blow away what we are used to. The beer culture and community appears to be much more tight-knit than what we know. Maybe it’s because NZ is so small or because we never paid much attention in the States since craft breweries are everywhere.
So getting back to Auckland, it was nice to be able to talk about things that only other Americans get – like gas station nacho cheese, a real bagel, good service and the tipping industry, just to name a few. We met a true New Yorker that refused to talk to Anthony at first because he had his Penguins jersey on. You’ve got to respect a guy that has that much love for his team. That’s what I’m used to.
The weekend was great and totally brought me out of my funk. On other occasions when we leave Auckland and friends I get that “Sunday night feeling” on the flight back. Not this time though. That had to be a good sign right?!?
About six weeks passed and now I am on to my second case of homesickness. This one is different though. The first one was missing more of America, life and the things there. This one is the people. I am missing the people SO much. Everyone says Kiwis are the friendliest people in the world. And in one sense they are but in other ways they generally aren’t outgoing and accepting to outsiders. I think my perspective is a bit off because I feel Pittsburghers (not just yinzers) are pretty friendly people. To be fair, some of it is probably because it isn’t the most diverse city in the world so when we hear people with different accents we are always keen to talk to them and welcome them in. (Yes, I am aware keen is not a Pittsburgh word.)
We met a brewer when we were at GABS and he had visited Pittsburgh. He went to a brewery in Lawrenceville that is owned by someone that is from Christchurch. The friend he was with didn’t understand why the owner gave them all of their food and drink for free, along with free shirts. Yes, he’s a Kiwi and so is she, but that’s the kind of thing that you Pittsburghers know happen more often than not. And it doesn’t happen everywhere.
If you ask me on a normal day I will tell you that one of my favorite things about being in New Zealand is that we are in the minority. Besides Anthony, there will generally never be another American in any group setting. Right now I can tell you I just want to be back in my comfort zone in Pittsburgh surrounded by those that know me best.
Let me help put this in perspective. We are set to fly to Phuket, Thailand on Saturday morning for 10 days. I told Anthony this morning that I wished I could trade in my ticket to fly back to Pittsburgh instead. Beautiful beaches with clear water in Phuket or shit greenish/brown water in the Burgh?!? Obviously this is a case of missing the people.
I’ve been fortunate to have friends back home checking in on me during this stint. I can’t thank them enough but the best part is I don’t have to.
On that note, I have to go start packing. This is a bit of a tricky one because I’m packing light to go on a shopping spree. (Clothing in New Zealand is so f’ing expensive it’s insane.) Google Earth was able to take me on a walk through a proper shopping mall in Phuket. It has real chain stores and a food court that has more American food than all of New Zealand. If getting on one of the three planes to Phuket doesn’t get me out of this funk, I’m pretty sure the shopping and vitamin sea will.
Here are some pics to show some of the gorgeous scenery and absolutely awesome experiences we’ve had in New Zealand. I do manage to enjoy myself when I’m not just sitting around in tears. 🙂