Like a butterfly stuck in a chrysalis, waiting for the perfect moment, I was waiting for the day I could burst forth and fly away and find my home.
I was engaged to my on-and-off again boyfriend of 5 years, living in a two-story executive inner city house and my first article had just been published but something was missing.
I should have been happy but I wasn’t.
This niggling feeling of emptiness grew into a sense of hopelessness, like my life had somehow gone drastically off course and I had no idea how to change it. I found no enjoyment in the things that used to make me happy, I lost enthusiasm for life and I sunk into a depression.
I watched as my life started slipping away before my eyes, each layer unravelling one by one. I felt as if I was sinking into a black hole and to escape I would spend my days watching TV.
The unhappiness was unpalatable and the tension was building in my relationship.
I would force myself to sleep during the day, hoping that I’d awake from a bad dream to a new happier existence.
On the surface my life appeared great. I had everything that society constitutes happiness. I lived in a nice big house in the city, my career in journalism was looking promising, I had a beautiful big rock on my finger and I was planning my wedding. I owned a nice car and plenty of nice things to make my life comfortable. My wardrobe was filled with shoes and expensive designer clothing and I had a network of friends who I would often attend VIP parties and backstage events with, which was a superficial world of excess and not much substance.
But despite having a lot, I was empty on the inside and longing for something completely different.
Behind closed doors I felt alone and misunderstood like I didn’t belong in this world that I had created. My relationship with myself was deeply flawed and through not valuing myself I accepted being in an unhealthy and at times abusive relationship and I felt deeply ashamed. I loved him, perhaps more than myself at that time.
I was a stranger in this city I had called home my whole life and I was crying out for change. I wanted out of this relationship, out of this city and out of the façade that was my life.
Eventually, the weight of carrying such an illusion was slowly lifted and the veil covering my eyes was peeled away.
As I looked around at my new reality life looked a little different. I was no longer asleep. You see, there was only so much misery I could take. I had hit rock bottom and shattered into a thousand tiny pieces and in that moment I experienced an aha moment that would be the most important turning point in my life.
I knew I wasn’t living and that insight transformed my fear of change and became my driving force. I had nothing to fear anymore and my subconscious made a deal with the universe who decided to shake things up and put my fears to the test.
Soon after I got a call from my landlady who told me she was selling the house I was renting.
In the weeks leading up to the phone call I sensed change was coming but I had no idea what I was in store for!
Usually a landlord needs to give a tenant 90 days notice to vacate, however I didn’t sign a tenancy agreement when I moved in 2 years previously. In fact the whole process was rather informal, I paid no bond and it felt like the house had magically landed in my lap. Because of the informalities I had no law to fall back on and to make matters more interesting, my landlady was a lawyer and a Labour MP.
Two weeks after the phone call, I received a six-week notice to terminate the tenancy via a courier. She had wanted me out sooner than I had expected as I’d become a nuisance to her by requesting open homes only on a Sunday as opposed to every day of the week and she wanted to sell the house as quickly as she could. I had served my purpose of paying her a whole lot of tax-free cash and I looked after her leaky home through the long cold winters.
It suddenly hit me hard and fast that the friendship that I thought we had developed over the years was nothing more than a business transaction.
Annoyed and knowing my rent was paid two weeks in advance I gave her two weeks notice.
So it was done. I was moving in two weeks with nowhere to go and a house-lot of furniture.
I knew I no longer wanted to live in Auckland city and I had a long-time dream of moving to Byron Bay in Australia so I frantically decided to start listing all my furniture for sale on trade-me, I took the remaining items to sell at my local market and I donated two carloads to charity. I watched as my house became empty of stuff I had been collecting my whole life and my wardrobe shrunk down to two suitcases.
I packed up my prized possessions and mementos for storage and waited with anticipation for moving day.
The big day came rather fast and it rained heavy, like the universe was trying to wash away my past. I loaded what was left of my possessions into a hire van and made a couple of trips back and forth to the small storage unit I had rented and I spent the last night in my empty house.
The place I used to call home.
With no bed to sleep on I slept the first of what would be many nights in my camper van which was parked in the driveway.
A few months previous my fiancé and I decided to look for a camper van to buy. We wanted to spend weekends away together and we found the cutest self-contained Mitsubishi L300 van fitted out by an English cabinet-maker. It was all fully functional with a sink and electric tap and a couch that folded out into a double bed. The bench tops and cupboards were handcrafted from wood and the upholstery, crockery and curtains was all a matching blue, like something from a magazine. I instantly fell in love and even though it was well over our budget we bought it on the spot.
I was thankful I had bought Marley (we named our camper van after Bob Marley) it was money well spent considering now he was going to be my new home.
My fiance and I spent our second night homeless out at Piha and the rain didn’t stop. Being cooped up in the little van with my dog Kyra and going through the stress of moving had caused us to have more arguments and I began to look at him as if he were a stranger. I missed the closeness we once shared and my heart was breaking for what had become of us. How could I go from being so in love to feeling so much anger and resentment towards him?
My teenage daughter was having problems of her own so my attention was suddenly directed towards sorting her living arrangements out. She had been staying with her boyfriend and his sister however it turns out his sister had some issues and she was letting them out on my daughter. I tried to remain calm in amongst all the drama and quickly moved my daughter and her boyfriend into my cousin’s house down the road.
Tired from all the stress we decided to stay the night, instead of driving back to Piha, so we parked Marley on my cousin’s driveway and it was there that saw the demise of our relationship.
The final argument concluded with him packing up his stuff and leaving.
I fell asleep alone, full of anxiety and thinking about what I was going to do. I didn’t really have a plan and up until then I had never driven the van, a stick shift which was slightly different to an ordinary manual.
I awoke with a mixture of anxiety and butterflies and decided to drive the 6 hour journey north to my mum’s land. There was no time like the present to learn how to drive a stick-shift and I wheel spun my way out of my cousins grassy driveway, just missing her fence, towards the motorway with my daughter and her boyfriend following behind.