I stood with my best friend, hand in hand, on a rain soaked hill on the outskirts of beautiful Wanaka, on the South Island of New Zealand. We had taken a wrong turn and found ourselves driving through a subdivision of land that looked out over what can only be described as paradise. We cut the radio as the music had already been drowned out by the overwhelming beauty that was everywhere to be seen and drove off the end of the sealed road and onto the gravel, as far as we could go.
I killed the engine and hurriedly reached for the handle to open the door but as I did so, she grabbed my arm and pulled my face towards hers. No words were spoken. She just looked at me with those eyes of hers. The ones that tell me she is alive - really alive and really living. They matched her smile that day. I knew that this was a special moment and it felt as though, for the first time I could remember, that someone was feeling the joy of the moment the same way that I did. After staring at each other for a while, we couldn’t help but giggle like excited children as we hurriedly fumbled over the door handles of our rental. I think for both of us there was a shared feeling that this really was going to be a special moment.
We were right.
We walked over towards the edge of the grassy outlook at the end of the gravel road and stood there on that hill. We stood there in silence and looked out over Roy’s Bay, towards the soft, gentle mountains that caressed the skyline to the north-west. We listened to the wind whistle through the long grass, singing the kind of song that soothes the soul.
Although I cannot know for sure, as there were no words spoken, I will take a bold guess that both Lydi and I were thinking the same thing. Maybe because it intuitively felt as though any words spoken would spoil the magic of the moment. Maybe it was because, instead of words, we both shed a few happy tears that found their way to our smiles while we took in this picture perfect moment. Those tears said more than words could.
The rainclouds that had been hanging low over the bay had mostly disappeared, leaving everything that the late afternoon sun now touched dripping in a golden and shimmering hue.
Those majestic mountains reached skywards. The endless, emerald green fields begged to be walked on. That crystal clear water danced in the sunlight. Spending such a beautiful moment with the love of my life, I don’t remember ever feeling so full, so content, so happy.
This memory is the one that visits me most nights, right before I go to bed. Actually, I guess you could call it a mix between both a treasured memory of mine and a vision of a future that we are slowly working towards. It’s a dream that I dream when the lamp light is dim. On the nights that this transpires I steal a second to sit astride our bed. I know that like every night, I am awake at a time I shouldn’t be, my sleeping hours and my waking hours playing tug of war.
But on nights like these, I override my better judgement as this is a second worth stealing from the clutches of sleep. I look upon the perfection of her face that’s been dreaming away the hours and I wonder if her sleep is consumed by the same memory of that day in Wanaka.
The 6th February 2015 is the day Lydia and I decided to follow our hearts and live the life we have always imagined, in a part of the world that makes doing so seem not so impossible anymore. As we sat in our hotel room and looked out over a landscape that beckoned to be explored, I asked Lydia is she would ever consider permanently moving from Sydney to live in Wanaka, New Zealand. For a second, she said nothing. She just looked at me, soaking in my gaze while her signature smile slowly spread across her face. Then she simply said the word I was hoping to hear, "yes".
Lydia and I have left the shores of New Zealand many times now over the last 5 years since our first visit in 2013. Each time we leave, we feel more and more motivated to chase our dream of living and working in Wanaka and to begin the journey of growing into a happy and content old couple, making living fun!
We keep repeating the mantra to ourselves that “we WILL live our dreams!” because we are collectively convinced on the power of our dream. Lydia and I are going to grow old there together. Each weekend will be an adventure and every morning waking up to her will be a dream come true. New Zealand will be our launching pad to explore the world! I will not stop until the dream becomes a reality. Whatever it takes, whatever is required, I will never give up.
I am acutely aware of how lofty our goals are. I want it all and my conviction won't be suppressed.
I want Wanaka, with the love of my life, on an acre of land with a beautiful home, three puppies (Hendrix, Nirvana and Kōda), a four wheel drive and a thirst for adventure. That is all the happiness I need to see me through.
We purchased our acre block of land on Wednesday October 1st 2015. There is still much yet to be done before we can truly call it our home. But when the day comes to board the plane for the final time, leaving Australia and our past behind us, we will then be able to say that we made our dreams come true.
We look forward to sharing in that adventure with you...