I don’t know why my subconscious waited until yesterday to reveal itself, but I now believe that a substantial portion of my life was all because of this guy: Lew Zealand. Thanks to the muppet with the boomerang fish, when I was nine years old and I first heard there was a country called “New Zealand”, I thought it sounded vaguely familiar, vaguely fun, and I simply knew I would need to go there someday.
This idle fascination stayed with me for years, reinforcing itself over and over again. Like when someone draws your attention to a certain model of car or flavor of drink or something, and suddenly you start seeing it everywhere. I kept coming back to this foreign-yet-familiar “New Zealand” idea, I even got kinda superstitious about it. I remember laughing hysterically in high school when I found an entry in the dictionary for the word Kea which, according to Webster’s is a large New Zealand parrot that attacks sheep. I wanted to meet this Monty Python sketch of a bird (I have now, they’re quite noisy and aggressive).
I tormented anyone who returned from this magical place with questions about every detail of their trip. I hunted high and low for details about “Old Zealand” wondering where that could be (this was before the internet). I just felt called to go there, haunted by it, and still had no idea why (this was well before Peter Jackson‘s movies).
I finally arrived on the shores (well, airport) of Aotearoa in 2009. I was by myself, still having no idea why I was there, really. Wandering about the Land of the Long White Cloud, I made several good friends there in pretty short order (mostly thanks to KiwiBurn, CouchSurfing, and my musical performances). For the following four years, I returned for a few weeks to a few months of the year. I made my work more portable to allow more time there. It became part of my migratory pattern, something my life came to revolve around. I spent plenty of time in Australia too, but New Zealand always had my attention and my heart. Some of my dearest friends are there now, I miss them often.
My last visit was in 2012, when I was on a year-long working holiday visa, searching for employment that would allow me to apply for my coveted New Zealand residency, and eventually maybe even citizenship. That was not in the cards at the time, though I still have high hopes of living there someday and eventually even emigrating. Things have changed a bit now that I’m no longer single, but I’m still seriously drawn to all things Kiwi (even Vegemite’s cousin from across the ditch, Marmite). I love it there, and like one of Lew Zealand’s boomerang fish, I will find my way back…
I have a theory that at some point in the future, I will have a means of time travel. I will go back to my younger self and play tricks on me for my own eventual, time-release amusement. Embedding a love for the Muppets and cross-wiring “Lew” with “New” is just the kind of thing my future self would do, and in this moment, apropos of nothing, I’m finally starting to get in on the joke. Good one, me!