Continued from Part Four…
We ditched the deep talk with the pie leftovers and kept to safe topics like Brexit and what our friends were up to now for the rest of the journey.
That night was the first one sleeping in my van. Now, I’ve slept in there with many of my friends and so it’s perfectly big enough to take two grown people without being inappropriate, but I can’t deny it was a little awkward.
We sat eating our brekkie the next morning watching the sunrise over Mount Cook and the icebergs on the Hooker Lake, like some kind of picture-perfect outdoorsy-couple scene and I was reminded of some of the reasons I loved hanging out with him. Oh, how I had so missed that. Or, had I just missed having a boyfriend to do that kind of thing with? I was to ponder which one it was over the next few days.
The next afternoon we were clinking beers in the fresh alpine sunshine at the Mueller Hut, gobsmacked and disbelieving together at the 360-degree views of Mt. Cook and the surrounding peaks, with the feeling we were sharing something for just the two of us. Later that night we found a space amongst the boulders surrounding the hut and sat for a couple of hours looking up at the stars. If you’ve ever seen a New Zealand night sky, then you can imagine what the view was like at 1800m with no cloud; I’ve never seen the Milky Way so clear. We sat drinking red wine, eating chocolate, cuddled into each other underneath a sleeping bag. It could have been so romantic. It felt so normal but yet so inappropriate and confused the hell out of me.
Seemingly car travel is our deep talking time and somehow we got onto the topic of relationships the next day. “Well, you seem to have it sorted.” I told him, in response to something he’d said.
“I wouldn’t say that.” He replied. What? He’d not given any impression that his relationship was anything other than OK, but, boom. There it was. It all came out. I just listened, anything more and I was liable for bias, intentional or not. I still didn’t really know how I felt, or what I might have wanted.
But that night, back in the van after the most brilliant evening, it became pretty clear for both of us. And so started a slip back into old habits, but a slightly-more-grown-up-version, and one that was on holiday in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It’s hard not to get swept up with the beauty, magic and romanticism of a New Zealand roadie. Hell, I’ve done that once before and look how it ended. But this was different. We had history, a lot more in common, and much better banter.
He was at a crossroads in his life, and we spent days talking about what was important in life for us both. He asked all about what NZ was like as a country to live in, and mooted the suggestion that he’d like to live abroad at some point. I knew NZ life would suit him down to the ground, and as the week went on I could start to see what an epic life we could have here together, and realised I still had some pretty strong feelings for him. But I was also pragmatic. I know what’s involved when you get together with someone from a different country, and it’s fucking hard.
We just enjoyed it for whatever it was, any conversations could wait. On many occasions it echoed my trip here two years previous, when I’d visited NZ and left with a relationship, and I couldn’t work out how I felt about that. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through all that again, but reminded myself that they were two different people, and I too had changed since then.
We hiked through forests and up mountains. We swam in lakes. We drank beer watching the sunset. We got up early to catch the sunrise. We talked and laughed, laughed and talked and kissed under the stars. It was so much more than we’d had before.
One night, at a campsite under the stars, in the single handedly most ridiculously romantic evening, we both admitted we liked each other more now than we did back then. He told me what he loved about me, how special I was and what a great time he was having.
To be continued…