I had a break over January. I went exploring the world, and somehow found my way back home…
Home again. JR Manawa.
She’s seen the sultry sunrise from the hazy peaks of Mount Sinai, and run barefoot across the ruddy dry earth of the Navajo desert chasing tumble weed. Awestruck she’s walked the glittering halls of Versailles, and indulged in a steaming rose petal bath in the medina of old Marrakesh. She’s surfed and wiped-out in Waikiki, and played in the water under moonlight in flooded Piazza San Marco. Curious she’s explored the catacombs beneath Place Denfert-Rochereau, and gazed in wonder at chandeliers of bone in Kutná Hora. She’s turned her face to the sun on the shores of Eivissa, and of course she’s fallen in love with the night lights of London town.
But one thing that remains, there is nothing quite the same as that moment when I return. My feet touch the earth and with a heartbeat long hesitation, I let my lungs be filled. I am home. These eager eyes of mine have already searched from my oval window for a solid hour before in anticipation of that first sight of the long white cloud, and then that first swath of deepest green.
And then I am immersed.
Inhaling deeply the smells of the barbeque as the summer evening settles in, while old friends about me chatter, siblings bicker and the hinges of the swing in the front yard creak. I sit and wait for desert; that chocolate self-saucing pudding.
Diving off the pohutukawa etched cliffs in the shadow of Mount Tarawera I can feel the cool depths waiting beneath me as my arms and legs flail, clawing toward the surface for a gasp of air and the heat of the sun on my face.
Fish n’ chips and paua fritter, washed down with a deep fried Moro bar. Sitting on a bench on the edge of the ocean, stomach too full to move. Finally, we agree to walk it off. The sand and sun are welcoming, and the rolling waves curl their white fingers in invitation.
Red the colour of dawn as the car consumes the kilometres between towns, the trailer bouncing along behind, laden with tents, sleeping bags and supplies ready for the greatest festival on earth, and eager to be the first in the queue.
Crushed against the barrier, the thousands heaving behind me – all blood and sweat and body-odour, I wait in anticipation for the final show, farewell to my childhood heroes. This is it. The sun begins to set behind us, the crowd surges – the first chord of my favourite song . . . for the last time.
Sulphur permeates the evening air and the market hums with local life. The food is rich and the company good as we enjoy the short moments, share stories, reminisce, plan, hope, dream. Life is exciting and the adventure always ahead.
Tears welling, from their eyelash rimmed pools now running, as the air I breathe takes solid form in the pit of my throat. Goodbye is a stupid word, to any of them. My family, my whanau. My home, Aotearoa. My farewell, ka kite ano.
Until I see you again.
Written by JR Manawa