Growing up, I had pathetic wisps of blonde hair that fell like a mop around my face. My hair has always been fine, and for the majority of my life, it never grew past my shoulders. That is… until I told myself it would be long, luscious, and reach my bellybutton one day. Cue the use of horse shampoo, oil treatments, hair masks and meticulous brushing (because it tangles so ridiculously easily!), which has undeniably impacted my entire surroundings. You see, my hair is about halfway down my back these days, and though it’s much thicker than it used to be, it sheds like crazy. It’s everywhere, and I’m constantly being surprised by the long, golden strands I find in the most peculiar of places. Wrapped around water bottle lids, woven in the fabric of my socks, settled comfortably on stove tops and hiding behind cushions. Wherever I have been, even if only briefly, there is likely a part of me that has made itself at home. Perhaps the strangest place I have discovered a strand, is in my freezer, chilling out in an open bag of frozen peas. Somehow, in the few seconds I rarely open the freezer door, a strand of my hair has abandoned my head, leapt into the icy cave and crawled through the small opening of a plastic bag to immerse itself in frozen peas. Like… what? I’m not sure if my hair is out to take over the world, or just clog the vacuum cleaner, but whatever the case may be, I appreciate the strands that are happy to remain on my head for however long they choose to stay.
I’m not sure what it is about me that makes strangers, particularly the elderly, think me sound enough to strike up a conversation. Being painfully shy, I tend to slink away from those I don’t know, but there’s something about the meaningful, often inspiring conversations that I have with fellow commuters and passers by that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Today, whilst waiting for my bus, a lovely older woman started talking to me about her three sons, all of which live overseas and work in various trades (apparently plumbers study for six years!). We talked about the world, owning a cafe, the price of real estate and travelling the country in a caravan, among other things. It was a lovely little conversation that brightened my morning and put a smile on my face. These days, people hardly look up from their screens long enough to notice the people they’re surrounded by. It saddens me that so many people are missing out on the wisdom and advice others have to give, and the simple pleasure of making a fleeting connection with someone outside their circle, whom they otherwise may never have spoken to. You could be the sunshine in someone’s day, an objective ear that listens without judgement or the strength someone needs to push through a difficult time. My most memorable and treasured connection was made when I waiting for the bus one day after school. I lifted my eyes from the book I was reading to see an elderly man with a cane sit by my side. He never did tell me his name, but he was 91 years old, and legally blind. The stories he told about his youth, and the world as it changed over the decades had me captivated, absorbing the wisdom he had to impart, and the joy left in his wake. He left after what felt like hours, humming happily before turning around to wish me a wonderful life. I think about him often, wondering if he has passed away or if he’s still wandering contentedly, chatting with other people that pause to lend him a listening ear. Whether it’s someone voicing their suspicions about an unfaithful partner, a man telling you that he has brain cancer or a woman whipping out a folder filled with pictures of her photocopied face (yes, I have experienced all of these interactions), take a moment to appreciate the unique people that we pass everyday and often never give a second though. Give them that human connection that is quickly and quietly slipping into oblivion.
Over the past 11 days, I traveled across New Zealand’s beautiful South Island in a Maui camper van with my parents and two of my siblings… and it was definitely an experience! Cramming myself into a sardine can with five adults and playing human tetris for nearly two weeks isn’t something I intend on recreating anytime soon, but there were a lot of memories made and a lot of moments that could’ve been plucked right from the movie RV, though luckily, besides a lopsided number plate, the van survived our journeys.
New Zealand has been the 7th country I’ve visited in the last 3 years, and although we didn’t get the opportunity to do a lot of things due to a tight budget and the weather, it was amazing to drive through the rugged wilderness that stretched for miles with beautiful sights to see in every direction. Until a few days ago, I’d never seen proper snow before, let alone been snowed on, made snow angels or been able to catch the delicate flakes on my tongue; all of which I can now cross off my bucket list. The snow was my favourite part of our trip, and even though its cold, wetness can easily become uncomfortable and inconvenient, I still find it magical. Due to our long days driving, I read five books, was annoyed by one sister and ignored by one brother. Apparently, eating biscuits ‘loudly’ at 9am in a confined space is enough to earn my place on the ‘most hated’ list for an entire day! Though by far, the most memorable moment was when we decided to cook a meal one night which led to oil and pieces of bacon popping and flying all over the van, on my father’s head and even into the pocket of my mother’s jacket. That was fun to clean up! Being surrounded by and unable to escape my family for an extended period of time was at times, an unpleasant reminder of how if I don’t have enough time to myself, I become irritable and my emotions go a bit haywire. I’m a highly introverted being, and even though I babble non stop and have plenty of energetic, crazy moments with those I’m comfortable with, I need alone time like I need air to breathe. So being without it for so long, I had a few squabbles with my family, and would sulk on the opposite end of the van, as unfortunately, rain and snow makes for a difficult time venturing outside. For the last year or so, I’ve had almost unlimited hours to myself, and so experiencing what it was like to crave that time again has made me appreciate the moments when I do get to just shut myself away from the world and exist in my bubble for a little while. All in all, I had a very cold, sometimes unexpected but continuously beautiful holiday with my family, that I will cherish for the good times, and even the bad, because it was a once in a lifetime experience that I have no plans of revisiting. Good riddance Maui camper van!