Our flights were hours apart, but we went to Auckland airport together. Four weeks together was long enough to remember what it’s like to be a family. Mum, Dad and Lisa had the earlier flight. There were a few tears and no clear answer on when we’d see each other next. They departed leaving me to wonder when I’d next be on a long haul. I waited a few more hours until it was my turn to fly. I had time to reflect on our journey together, the things we’d achieved as a family.
We are still in the fortunate and rare position to be able to travel together. Lisa and I are well in to our mid-20s. Well, I am, my sister is closer to her early 30s. Mum and Dad are over 50, approaching the next milestone. At Franz Josef our guide Lauren expressed her surprise and awe. We were still taking holidays together. During our black water rafting adventure, Jayjay couldn’t believe it. He thought it was awesome that we were undertaking a long trip together as a family. This is something usually reserved for the young, or the retired. Here we were, in the middle of our lives at the end of yet another holiday of a life time.
There were times when we argued, called each other names, and upset one another. When David and I travelled together we had our fair share of issues with each other as time drew on. Travelling as a family was going to be no different. Patience can wear thin when you sleep, wash, and eat together. Those blips, be the many or few, retreated to the back of my mind. I had no doubts, our shared exploration of New Zealand was a success!
Some times I’m surprised when I remember my parents are in their 50s. We took my Dad white water rafting for the big 5-0, Mum went go-karting. They are still out there doing things, enjoying new experiences. They bought an inflatable canoe to make their boating trips at home easier. They’ve gone on diets to improve their health and their lives. They are attempting to walk some of the big British pilgrimages. I will always remember the feeling of pride when I found them on the slopes of Mt Tongariro. We had made it, in our own time at our own pace. We conquered the mountain. I am privileged to be able to spend time with them, doing the things we love together. Better yet, we have done them all around the world.
My relationship with Lisa is different. I like to think we have a mutual enjoyment of winding each other up. Some times one of us will take things too far. At least that’s how I see it anyway. We don’t always spend our time together as opponents. I remembered walking through Hooker Valley together, discussing our lives and their direction. This is something we’ve always managed to do. Neither of us are as comfortable talking with Mum and Dad, who are often the common enemy.
I had been without them for 18 months. It was both a long time and no time at all. Our relationships with each other have changed. We’re older, wiser, but still inclined to keep up old habits. A few fallings out aside, I feel that as a unit, we’re in a much better place. There’s stronger understanding, more tolerance, an acceptance of our differences. We don’t have to be best of friends all the time. We can get along just fine being a family.
It excited me to see we had all challenged ourselves. Mum pushed her physical boundaries, accomplishing things she’d never dreamed of months before. Dad attempted to come away with a better understanding of physical geography. Lisa had, well, put up with her brother for four weeks, living in a camper van and had not killed him. After four weeks in the closest of confinements we needed a long break, again. I do not think it will be as long before I see them again. Lisa was on her way back to London, Mum and Dad to Basingstoke. I was going back to Melbourne for what might be the final time.