I fully intended to return from Invercargill and write a scathing and arrogant post about what a shit-hole it is. My ‘Guide to Invercargill,’ was going to tell you how bored I was, how grey and old and uninspiring I found it.
Instead I went there and I fell in love
Which is typical of everything in my life- but I didn’t expect it. I hate the cold passionately but from the moment we landed I was so taken by everything. I haven’t been to Dunedin since I was seventeen, which although was only three years ago feels like a different lifetime, and yet it made everything familiar in the most distant way.
And it’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful. The roads are wide and curve gently through miles of farmland and the sky- I could not believe the sky. It went on forever, this mess of colour and clouds but also so clear, so clean and crisp and bright. It was ridiculously breathtaking.
I am a girl of the ocean though so it wasn’t until reaching the rugged, rocky edges of the coast that I wanted to explode. I love being near the sea, not in it, but near it. It’s when it’s at its most wild, when I can feel the energy under my skin as the wind whips at the water and waves surge and topple that I am the most calm. I will never explain it right, but breathing in the sting of salt and seeing the depth of the blue – after growing up with surfers will always be familiar. Like home.
People don’t really believe me when I say I regret not choosing Otago Uni – partially because I was never considering Otago for law but mostly because I’m me. I’m such a North islander – and an obvious far North girl at that. I grew up sipping spirulina smoothies in the cafes of Wellington, spent my summer at the winterless (but perpetually rainy) beaches of Whangarei and Bay of Islands. I speak culture and arts and bright lights. Dress like I want my photo taken. I don’t drink that much alcohol and I go through about ninety tissue boxes a year. Also I hate the cold.
Dunedin is nothing like me, and Invercargill even less so.
But these two days had me hooked. I fell more in love every second I spent there.
Because it is different. Change is something that I just can’t find in Auckland. Love is here, friendship in abundance and the degree I’m studying is so good. But there is no change and such slow growth and when I imagine what life would have been like if I had chosen differently…It’s such a good picture. A bitterly cold and terrifyingly raw picture, but one that I want. That since having a taste of it, I crave.
The same way I always orientate towards the coast, when I was passing through southland I had that simple but primal instinct that this is where I should be staying. That some places are worth being cold for.
Anyway, I like the South. I like the no nonsense vibes and the layers upon layers of jackets. I like the highlanders colours incorporated everywhere and how sharp the cool of the air tastes against your tongue. It is the opposite of everything I am and yet epitomises everything I want to be.
I don’t regret the city I live. I’m happy to be here, but driving under that sky I couldn’t help but wonder ‘what if?’ Leaving was the bitterest part of the sweet.