Oamaru? they ask. You had the star studded skies of Twizel, the incredible mountains of Cook, the gorgeous regions of the legendary Milford Sound, and your choice is.. what?
Nobody really knows this, but I was in a bit of a strange place last year end. I was frequently unhappy, and always for the most elusive of reasons I couldn’t place a finger on. Friends commented on my whitish pallor, some older ones referenced a period of time years ago where I was so pale with stress i had to pile on rouge to retain some semblance of health. I felt apart from myself. I couldn’t understand why – but I felt quite literally as though there was something heavy sitting on my shoulders, causing me to hunch over slightly, pulling the skin between my brows together. Even when laughing I was always looking over my shoulder.
And in Oamaru I was happy. I think it really just boils down to that. I don’t know why – but in the unreasonably blue-skied little Victorian town of Oamaru I felt for the first time in months as though I was just another girl walking around a new place struck silly by the wonder that comes with each new destination. I had good coffee. I finished a book that sounded as though it was written by a very drunk person. I sat by the port and didn’t worry about the time. I paid too much to watch the blue penguin colony come home and saw one get eaten by a seal. I finally got some writing done.
Would you know it? I didn’t take a single photo of myself in Oamaru. I got no close ups of the penguins – it wasn’t allowed, and i couldn’t be arsed to sneak a blur one in. I only spent one night there, and half a day walking around by myself. I went into an empty museum and caught an exhibition on dinosaur bones. I thought about the penguins and smiled. I remembered the penguin that got eaten by a seal and stopped smiling. But I was so happy still.
You can have mountains and stars and the most breathtaking of things and still you won’t be able to understand why and how you fell in love with the comparatively unremarkable places that you did. But you did. And that’s all that really matters at the end of the day.