Unlike many (most?) teenagers I never hated the town I grew up in. I'm sure sometimes I disliked it*, but for the most part I was quite happy there. Auckland had good shops, and good friends, and good beaches...everything necessary to make me content.
That said, I always knew I would leave it. It wasn't because I didn't like Auckland. It was because I had to. My need to travel became such a part of me during my teen years that I grew accustomed to it, its presence a constant knowledge flickering in my heart that I was going! Leaving! I was off to explore the world and make my mark on it and take the place that had been reserved for me. And then - well, then I would come back.
How little I knew. Nearly seven years later, I live nowhere near Auckland, as evidenced by the things I go through to get there. This was never the plan, but seeing as I never really defined that plan too thoroughly to myself, I don't mind one little bit. Over the years, I've found my place in the world, and explored enough that it sometimes feels like a lot, and more often feels like what it is - a tiny little eeny-weeny infinitesimally microscopic part of all there is to see and do. As for the mark-making, it continues steadily, prepping me for the time I return.
Because I still want to go back. I wasn't sure I did, up until a few weeks ago. But the test H1 and I conducted - the 'try before you drive' option, if you like - cemented the knowledge that we did not know. New Zealand is home. One day, we will live there again.
Our test was both simple and slightly detached from the realities of life. Five days, based in a hotel in the centre of the city, in which to practise our New York lives and see how they fared up against Auckland. Even though we don't live in a fancy hotel most of the time, we suspected and hoped we could replicate our usual way of being reasonably accurately.
Spoiler alert - we were right. Auckland offers a lot - not everything New York or London does, to be fair, but a whole lot of other things**. It's a far better city than the one I left, with a supremely cool waterfront, incredible cafés, gorgeous parks, and beautiful suburbs, and while it doesn't have it all, what it does have, I want. And now I know how easy it is to leave, I'm sure I'll one day find it that easy to return.
*When it rained, mostly - something Auckland sadly excels at.
**Beaches/really good coffee/amazing food/sensationally beautiful islands/family/semi-affordable houses/take your pick.