After Hot Water Beach we retreated to Whangamata, which we were using as a base. I have a soft spot for Whangamata. As children we used to spend two weeks every summer out that way. This summer we spent some time on the beach, but mostly playing cards, eating all the food and hanging out with Mum and her partner. I spent a large chunk of time trying to figure out how to do crossword puzzles, and this physical get the bars around the ball puzzle that was lying around. We went out to dinner on the tiny little high street, and I drove the ridiculous Commodore up and down the stretch by the beach after, 'cruising' through the night, through the empty beach streets. On the Sunday we said bye to Lyth and Sibling (sad face) as they went back up to Auckland. Zee and I spent a few extra days hanging out, enjoying the sun and what not.
I have to say, it wasn't all fun times and sunshine. There was a bit of a drunken free for all and tears after we'd had a few too many glasses of bubbles. I think the hardest part was realising that being so far away for so long had really deteriorated a lot of my relationships, and had allowed too many misconceptions to fester. Heartbreaking, because I'd always assumed that some things were rock solid. A misconception on my part, obviously.
My problem is that it's too easy for me to be out of sight, out of mind. There's no feedback loop when I'm on the other side of the world, in a very different time zone. It's too easy take whatever stray thought and with a bit of emotion have it become fact when I'm not there to ask. It's heartbreaking. To be put in the 'too hard' basket because the distance is too big.
It took this trip, and moments like this to realise what my absence really meant.
Still, the beach was lovely.
In a less emotional frame of mind, I really did love this road trip. Whangamata was our last stop before we went back to Auckland and it really was great to see so much of New Zealand. To show Zee places I'd been talking about for ages, to adventure with Lyth again. To revisit places I hadn't seen since I was small. To remember how great Hokey Pokey is, and what a real beach is like. To be sunburnt, and around people who speak the same way you do.
It really was phenomenal - made me realise how little of NZ we'd seen, and given more time, how much more I'd want to see. Still, high five for a brilliant road trip!