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A Case of the Speed Wobbles

Well, everyone said it would happen, and it’s happened. Nine months into my new life, I’ve started to have a few ‘being home’ speed wobbles.

A couple of months ago I wrote about how re-integrating into New Zealand society (a bit like a criminal, but with a much better wardrobe) had been fine. And it is fine. But in the last three weeks, the ground below me has started to shift a little, my equilibrium has wavered and I’ve had a few teary moments.

It all started when I went to Hawaii for a week to renew my green card (I’m not ready to give it up yet) and do some power shopping and pina colada-drinking with my Mum. (An aside: Did we power shop. It was like a flipping feeding frenzy at the outlet mall. We each came home with an extra suitcase filled with clothes and make up – and in my case a rug – and still spent less than we would have on three items of clothing in New Zealand.)


Kahala, Oahu.

Kahala, Oahu.

Cocktails at sunset on Waikiki.

Cocktails at sunset on Waikiki.

The whole week was relaxing and warm and it was nice to be around those crazy Americans again. Then I got home, home to Auckland, New Zealand, and a feeling of ‘Is this it?’, starting to creep in. It’s manifested in feeling a bit off my game, a tiny bit down in the dumps, and bit more fretful than usual.

I’m still happy to be here. I still have a good job, great friends and lots of things to be thankful for and enjoy.  But settling in is obviously going to take a  bit longer than I thought. How long? I don’t know. How long does it take to give up one sense of place and take on another?

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Heather #

    Your a kiwi in ” Gods Own” what more do you want. Leave the USA for holidays only. Times are changing dear plus you are getting older and “Gods Own” looks after us.

    July 20, 2013
    • I find that stuff – the ‘get on with it, you’re in the best place in the world’, parochial attitude – the worst thing about being back to be honest! That’s not the point of what I’m saying – the point is that moving across the world is an adjustment and it takes time whether you’re in NZ or anywhere else and life has low points as well as high points.

      July 20, 2013
  2. Annabel Pranic #

    Oh Kirsten wish I could give you a hug I so know what you are going through . In 99′ we moved the girls here for a temporary time and when I got back to silver stream I just feeling that “is this it” feeling and sort of wanted to scream and drive over cars in front of me doing 30 ,ask grocery stores why they didnt have all the complicated ingrediants i needed,laugh loudly at the price of shoes and parking tickets, and yell at people who made dull comments about their to me dull dull dull lives!
    Note I said to me – I’m sure they didn’t think their lives to be dull.
    All this coupled with an absolute dread of talking about Australia for fear of the usual negativity and extreme fierce defend NZ at all costs conversation. So I pretended it was fine and it was because I was busy.
    How long you ask does it take – I think everyone’s different but moving back this time has taken time,especially for me was dealing with what I perceived as identity issues. It’s so easy in NZ where I was ( and my great big family) very known.
    So when I managed to turn that around in my mind to a positive(that there were advantages to being unknown, reinventing self ,and that I did have identity in my new life’s little subgroups) then I started to feel more settled but it has taken about 7 yrs!!!
    But it’s a gradual process.
    Your shopping sounds amazing wish I’d been there .
    Love Annabel

    July 20, 2013
    • Thanks Annabel – it really helps to hear that everyone else went through the same, drawn out process. It’s still really great here – just taking a bit of time to transition. And, our shopping was AMAZING and Mum is the best person to power shop with. I may just have a case of shopping withdrawal! xx

      July 20, 2013
  3. Fiona Luhrs #

    Think of it as having gained your Mum .. and your Dad.

    July 20, 2013
    • Yes do think of – and appreciate – that. It’s just all the other things you have to adjust to!

      July 20, 2013
  4. Hey K, sorry to hear you’re feeling a bit down. I too have been there.

    May not help in the slightest, but I wrote this piece for Canvas Mag a few months back, about how hard it is to “come home”. Ignore the horrid pic (note to self: don’t wear loose top when on windy Mt Vic as it will make you look like a whale) but might help to know you’re not alone?

    And for what it’s worth, you’re a great editor and I love freelancing for you!


    July 20, 2013
    • Sharon, I should have just posted your story on my blog! I’ve just read it and it sums up everything I feel, but perhaps in a better, more nuanced way! I’m sure these feelings will pass, but it’s so nice you to know other people have been there and felt exactly as I have. x

      July 20, 2013
  5. You are def not alone! And one day we will get that drink and be able to share the woes of re-entry.


    July 20, 2013
  6. [email protected] #

    Hi Kirsten,

    When I arrived in Muriwai I knew it is where I wanted to be but it didn’t stop the speed wobbles…many times! Particularly being a chef I was horrified at the lack of food choice, in particular I pasturised cheese LOL. But Auckland certainly has changed in the past 5 years with lots of cool eateries. Shopping is another game though, I now shop online, it’s far too expensive for non run of the mill stuff. It took me maybe 4 years to settle in, even though I never wanted to return to the UK. But I still hanker for a shopping spree back home and a few weeks in France, so we just plan that into the budget!

    If you ever fancy a gripe over coffee give me a shout.

    July 20, 2013
    • That’s the thing Alli – you can know you’re happy to be in this place, but still feel wobbly. It’s quite an odd sensation. Love to meet you for coffee next time you are in the city and I promise not to gripe!

      July 21, 2013
  7. Ngaire #

    What a huge change you have had in the past couple of years though Kirsten, from NY City to a year at Disco Farm then fleetingly back to NY then back again to Auckland and taking on a great job with Urbis. No wonder you are having those feelings, settling back into NZ will take some doing.

    July 23, 2013

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