(Lindis Pass, New Zealand)
You learn so much about someone when you spend 2 weeks waking up, falling asleep, driving and tramping and swimming and simply existing next to them.
Like that they can’t talk when they’re eating a carrot or else it will go up their nose, and that this might happen more than once. That sometimes, speaking is hard, and English doesn’t come out and you’ll have no idea what they’re saying because mid sentence they’ll stop and say “oh, sorry, that was Dutch,” and other times speaking is so damn easy and you relate to one another on such a beautiful level that you forget you speak different first languages. You see how easily and contagiously they move through the world excited and eager.
You see how a place can move them to tears, can nestle itself so deeply inside of them, making their eyes and soul light up leaving them daydreaming. You start to feel things for the songs that they feel things for – songs that you’d never heard, songs that started out as them showing you a piece of their time here, that now bring the most intense emotion to you when you play them. You learn about things they appreciate the most in life, like a good coffee or an op shop. You laugh as they say “oh, I LOVE this one!” to every song that comes on through the radio (once you buy an aux chord).
You learn what makes them tick, like mosquitos and sand flies in the tent, or in the morning at a sunrise, or at night when you get yourselves ready for bed. You learn how they fill in silence in magical ways – by singing lyrics to the song in their own melody and rhythm, before the song starts, after the song finishes, between songs.
This girl is in Australia now. Our road trip was the end of her time in New Zealand and the beginning of mine. I don’t know when I’ll see her again, and that both breaks my heart and breaks it open, because these days of laughing and loving and crying from the beauty we constantly see here and feel here – the days of walking beside or behind up and down tracks, of driving and sleeping and writing next to her…
When I come up against myself, when I feel myself and feel myself being everywhere else but here, I’ll think of them. I’ll think of “zorgen voor morgen,” which, in Dutch, means worries or cares for tomorrow – things that you can’t fix or change today. Things that can wait. I’ll remember that and sink into the now.
Goodbyes here aren’t as easy but are just as natural as hellos, and I can’t tell if it’s good or bad or just is. All I know is that it felt like a long time coming.