Sunday, November 02, 2014

Surreal 19th Expataversary

Today is my nineteenth Expataversary, the anniversary of the day in 1995 that I arrived in New Zealand to live. That means today is also the day Nigel and I always celebrated as our anniversary, though we now have many options for that. This year was a little surreal for me.

This day is “the day that mattered”, as I called it back in 2012, because it’s when my life in New Zealand—my life with Nigel—began. Everything that’s happened in my life over the past 19 years grew directly from that day in 1995. That’s why it matters so much.

Today, however was kind of surreal. I got up around 8:30am to watch the New Zealand All Blacks take on the USA Eagles in a rugby match played at Soldier Field in Chicago. It’s kind of surreal in itself to see the All Blacks play in the USA, something that hasn’t happened for a very long time, but it was even more surreal so to see them play in Soldier Field in my old hometown, the very city I left nineteen years ago.

62,000 people packed into Soldier Field to watch the Number One-ranked national rugby team in the world—the All Blacks—take on the 18th ranked USA Eagles. The final result was probably obvious (the final score was All Blacks 74, USA 6), but it was important for rugby in the US and the high demand for tickets clearly means it appealed to Americans. Much to my surprise.

When I lived in Chicago, I barely even knew what rugby was. It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand that I grew to understand anything about the game, or to appreciate it. And then today, the past and present caught up with each other in a weird way. Well, weird to me—apparently less so to the 62,000 fans at the game.

And that’s one thing I’ve learned over these nineteen years as an expat: Never assume anything’s forever, or that nothing will change. Because change is constant—usually for the good, sometimes not. And sometimes it can even surprise.

Nineteen years ago today, I took a chance on a really big personal change. It worked out wonderfully, obviously, and it turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever done. But that, at least, doesn’t surprise me at all.

So, nineteen years an expat, nineteen years with my wonderful Nigel, and nineteen years building a life together in this beautiful country. It all began on November 2, 1995. No wonder I keep celebrating it.

Posts from previous years:
Eighteen (2013)
The day that really mattered (2012)
Sweet sixteen (2011)
Fifteen (2010)
Fourteen (2009)
Lucky 13: Expataversary and more (2008)
Twelfth Anniversary (2007)
Eleven Years an Expat (2006)

Ex, but not ex-

1 comment:

rogerogreen said...

OK. TRY to explain rugby to me.