One of the major perks of my job is that more often than not, I get the weekend off.
In theory, it’s the dream: a whole weekend, the possibilities are endless.
And after spending most of my Saturday at work, being that sad loser who still comes in to the office on their day off, I decided to actually do something with my Sunday.
Naturally, I was still in the gym first thing: Zac had given me a killer leg work out to do – I’m training for strength at the moment, but he forgot to tell me that the last few exercises didn’t need to be done heavy.
I don’t think I’ve ever trained my calves in my life and after doing calf raises, way too heavy, I was already feeling it and knew I’d be suffering the next few days.
There was only one thing for it.
Do the one thing I’d been meaning to do since I got to Auckland and climb Mount Eden.
my feet know these streets.
I set off in the direction I used to trudge daily to the pool.
It felt strange walking that way, even after just a few weeks of it not, the route felt strange. Familiar, yes, but forgotten in it’s way. Recalled in a moment of fondness, and then relief it wasn’t a route I still had to take.
I walked straight past the pool to the end of the road in the rough direction of Mount Eden. I figured once I got there it would be easy enough to work out how to get to the top.
The plan was simple.
Find the big hill.
Climb the big hill.
There are several ways you can get to the top of Mount Eden, including a road and a paved footpath.
Yeah, I missed both of those.
I literally climbed Mount Eden.
I felt like an adventurer, like an explorer.
It was an easy enough climb, to be honest, not quite as extreme at the hill to get up to the castle in Wales that Zac decided to take as the crow flies.
But after doing legs in the morning, when I got to the top, climbed over the barrier onto the footpath, and clocked everyone else sauntering up in their platforms, pretty dresses and casual chinos, I felt a little foolish I got to the top panting and out of breath.
Sweat pouring down my back, I was grateful for the wind and set off to the nearest bench to sit and take in the view.
Snapping off a few quick photos, I soon managed to find the huge white dome of Eden Park and deduced that I lived somewhere in that direction.
Within seconds I found Melbourne.
My heart skipped as my stomach dropped and I was suddenly overcome with a crushing wave of homesickness.
I took a seat on the bench as I stared off into the distance towards where Melbourne should be as tears began to well up spill over.
I stood up a second time, wiping the wet stains from my cheek and looked for London to cheer myself up. It had the opposite effect and within a few minutes I was sat, silently weeping, lamenting the home I wasn’t allowed in and the home I’d left behind.
home is a funny old thing.
England will always be home in it’s way. It’s where I grew up; where I was made, born and raised. It’s where I realised England wasn’t home any more, at least not in the way it used to be and just for that it’s the most important place in the world.
Zac knows the distinction when I talk of ‘home’, he knows when I mean ‘Ashby‘ home or ‘Melbourne‘ home. I don’t have to explain the complexities of home to him.
In some way England is just as much home for him now as Melbourne is and we both feel the strange pull, the desire to go back, but not to live.
The breeze whipped around my face and threw stray strands of hair into my eyes.
I brushed them to the side and looked around again.
I felt empty.
I made a mental inventory of everyone I’d met since I’d been in Auckland and another of those that would stay in touch once I left.
It wasn’t a long list.
when you say everything in days, time seems almost trivial.
I looked at my phone.
86 days. Fuck, is that all?
I’d been here for 86 days.
It felt like years.
So much had happened in such a short time, but the living of it? That was taking a lifetime.
I flicked through my apps until I found my Countdown.
6 days, 21 hours, 17 minutes and…5 seconds
These days were the longest: the ones waiting for Zac to come back. The ones closest to us being together again.
I took a deep breath and looked over at Auckland’s skyline, willing myself to find beauty in the view, to look at the boats with fondness and feel…something for this city.
The sea looked cold and uninviting and the rolling green hills loomed back at me with nothing but resentment.
Houses packed tightly into their tiny suburbs, and other Mounts like this one perched awkwardly in the centre, their lookouts offering different views of Auckland.
A different perspective, a better look out.
tu me manques.
I walked around the edge of the crater to see the city from a different angle.
I was starting to get cold and I still had to get groceries on my way home.
I was on top of Auckland, it was a fantastic view, the weather was beautiful for once, and it still didn’t feel right.
I wanted to feel something.
I wanted this to be my epiphany, the moment that I took a deep breath and something switched, where I finally felt settled and felt like I could rest.
It did the opposite.
I was stirred into restlessness, an aching desire to jump ship and just leave.
The longer I spent at the top, the deeper the resentment grew, seeping in to the depths of me.
I hate Auckland.
I’ve never hated anywhere in my life, and yes, largely my perception is skewed by the fact I don’t want to be here and didn’t have a choice, but that aside this city is draining.
86 days and counting.