Six years ago we arrived in Wellington, just ahead of Matariki, although I had no knowledge of Maori celebrations then. I just knew that our little rented villa was darn cold, drafty cold, with not a radiator to be seen. Ben was 16 months old, seemingly without interest in shifting forth in any direction. A determined sitter who had to be carried everywhere, every entertainment fetched to within his limited reach. I was heavily pregnant with Dan. Aching and whale like, smiling at my new midwife, ‘yes, everything will be fine, yes I am feeling OK’. I had passed the point of being able to fly home safely. There could be no reversal of plans. We sat on the floor, waiting for our life in London to arrive, neatly packed in a shipping crate.
Just after midnight on mid winter’s morning Dan arrived. I always think of him as a mid-summer baby, born in the wrong hemisphere. I find even now, when I finally feel settled in this land far, far from home. Now, with the drafty, lonely first Wellington house a distant memory. Now with a garden full of flowers, and space, and friends, and my crazy, gorgeous kiwi boys who clearly belong right here. Even now, as mid-June approaches the pull of home is so strong. Thoughts of the path I didn’t choose, the people I wish I could laugh across a table with instead of conversing through a computer screen.
But whereas six years ago the homesickness would be overwhelming, turning me into a great anxious bundle. Now, I pour a wine. Bake a chocolate cake (well OK – I do that most days, homesick or not) and think of trips we’ve taken. Dan’s 3rd birthday party on my grandmother’s lawn. Ted and Baz sitting on a pile of sticks in a Welsh pub garden. Dancing like teenagers at Jake and Lisa’s wedding in a room full of everyone who matters most. Pouring dark chocolate into milk on the bank of the Seine, and all that followed one rather special child free day in Paris. Then I start planning the next big trip. Matariki, it turns out, is a great time to look at the stars.