THE 10-YEAR GAME
Rebecca Hayter reflects on her first year as a fence-mending, chainsaw-wielding Golden Bay lifestyler.
As I approached the oneyear anniversary of moving from Auckland to Golden Bay, I sat myself down for an appraisal.
On one hand, it was terribly clichéd: giving up the corporate lifestyle of car horns and meeting schedules for a 10-acre block on the Mainland – daffodils, lambs and trugs of freshly picked herbs. Even I was expecting me to say, “It’s been the most amazing year of my life...”
But, instead, I managed: “It’s been okay.” Oh dear. When I first told friends of my plans to sell up and move south, I’d been assured, “If it doesn’t work out, you can always come back.”
Except that I couldn’t. Apart from practical reasons like pride, employment and the logistics of selling up and buying again, my reasons for leaving Auckland were still valid. If I went back, I’d only want to leave.
Even so, my self-rating of “It’s been okay” spun me into a panic. Part of it was money, of course. I’d given up a salary that decorated my bank account every month. These days, my finances were rather austere. There were costs I had expected, like Charlotte, my new 4WD, and costs I hadn’t: farming-type hardware such as a chainsaw and line trimmer, repairs to the tractor and ride- on mower, fencing repairs, security cameras and experts to tell me what I was supposed to be doing and how much it might cost.
A wee panic following a big change is perfectly natural. I reminded myself of my favourite paraphrase of Thoreau: “I left the woods for the same reason I went there; I still had more lives to live.” I even quoted myself: “If you don’t leave, you stay.”
In Auckland, I’d lived in a nice apartment, owned a quarter-share in a yacht that raced regularly on the harbour, and I drove a company car. It had Bluetooth, so I could talk legally, hands-free, while crawling through traffic. I loved the people I worked with, but the corporate routine was draining my soul. And as I looked out my apartment windows to see houses upon houses, it drove me crazy – silently deepinside crazy – that I couldn’t go for a decent walk in the bush without driving for an hour and a half.
I often play the 10-year game: when I look back 10 years from now, what do I want to see? I had lived 33 years in Auckland; I didn’t want it to be 43. Ten years ahead, I wanted to look back on a decade of me in a rural life, gumboots pushing through long wet grass on a winter’s morning.
This little chat with myself helped me through a small but crucial shift. I stopped feeling like the hesitant guest and started feeling like the owner. After all, I’d been here through a whole run of seasons; I knew what would happen next.
Well, not so fast, kiddo, because you can make big changes in life, but you can’t predict where they will take you. That’s why we make them. +
As I looked out my apartment windows to see houses upon houses, it drove me crazy – silently deepinside crazy – that I couldn’t go for a decent walk in the bush without driving for an hour and a half.