Let me preface this post by saying that the contents here have little to do with fashion and even less to do with looking sharp in the traditional sense of the colloquialism, but I think the overall gravity of this subject warrants a write-up regardless.
To begin, let's acknowledge one common fact:
everyone has their movie.
That one movie to which he or she can turn at the drop of a hat (or a bad relationship) (or a dead end job) (or their 26th birthday on which they're feeling very much in fact like their life might be over) and feel overwhelmingly at "home" — in the truest sense of the word.
For me (as anyone who has ever met me knows) that 'one' movie has always been three.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy has consumed me since a random Sunday in 7th grade when my dad brought The Fellowship of the Ring home and I told him he was stupid and that the movie was lame and then proceeded to stay up 'til 1:00am to finish the film and then made him drive me to the nearest theater (3 cities over) that was still playing The Two Towers to catch it on screen the next night and then followed that viewing with a deep obsession (including but not limited to the act of seeing The Return of the King six times in theaters which I should leave out to save some sort of face but also not leave out because I feel I need to emphasize the sheer severity of this infatuation) that would last until my mid-twenties AKA today and teach me never again question my parents' cultural decisions (until of course my mom made me watch Flashdance and I realized this trust can only extend so far).
Then, in February, after realizing that I was sort of losing my identity in the insanity that is NYC and beginning to question who I am as a human while enduring a whole slew of other millennial-esque life crises like rejection and loss and a general disconcerting (yet probably/definitely melodramatic) sense of malaise, I decided that it was as good a time as ever to run away.
Sure, I made it back. And sure, it's not really running away when you book hotels and request special in-flight meals like vegetarian-only breakfasts, but it sounds so much cooler than "take a pre-planned vacation" or "use up some soon-to-expire vacation days that I've been too OCD to take" and so I'm sticking to it.
And that's how I wound up in the middle of New Zealand by myself living out my childhood fantasy.
I would have stayed a year, if I could have stayed a year, but within the course of a week (note aforementioned allotment of vacation days), I managed to fulfill some long-held fantasies (not tied at all to the Tinder dates interspersed within the trip) which mainly consisted of me roaming through nature alone while listening to Howard Shore-scored soundtracks and just generally being the living embodiment of a first class nerd.
I feel this is an appropriate time to throw in the hashtag #stillsingle.
And so, without further ado, here's how it went down:
To kick things off, I pretended I was a hobbit.
I don't need to get into the intricacies of why Hobbiton still exists (BUT BELIEVE ME I SO COULD), but it does, and on some of the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen. Set on the Alexander Farm in Matamata, NZ, "Hobbiton" is actually a fully functional farm run by two brothers with over 13,000 sheep. But not the sheep you see in the movies. PJ flew those sheep in, because he wanted ones that were darker. The real ones were too "white". The tree above Bag End is also fake. The natural leaves were too dark, so he made fake ones. GUYS I HAVE SO MANY NERD FACTS.
I drank a stout at the Green Dragon.
And posed for the most unflattering photo of my life.
Worst travel blogger ever.
I journeyed through Rohan.
At one point, I just fully left the marked path and unintentionally (so I'm claiming) meandered past the "DO NOT ENTER / PRIVATE LAND" sign on top of Queenstown hill into the unknown (or, you know, the private).
It was epic — in all the originally-intended meanings of the word. I was convinced I saw the spot where Aragorn "took a little tumble off the cliff" and fully expected to look up and see a Warg perched atop on of the hundreds of hills and stone cliffs around me. In fact, at one point, once I was able to mentally (though tentatively) quell that fear, I actually fell asleep just under a little outcrop of rock, and basically decided right then and there that I would have been much better as a fantasy character than I'll ever be as a real human which is a logical thought to have for a 26-year-old adult (?) woman, right?
I horseback rode through Middle Earth
Glenorchy is a town situated 20km from a slightly hidden (and nearly impossible-to-get-to) town called (literally) Paradise (I repeat, literally). Though I wasn't able to make it to Paradise (did I mention that this is literally its name), where they shot a majority of the films, I did manage to hop on horseback and ride through what seemed to me to be heaven.
At one point, we crossed a stream so similar to that which Arwen crossed while being chased by the Nazgul that I may or may not have looked behind me to see if one of the Nine were following.
I didn't, though, because that would be so lame.
I roamed aimlessly through verdant fields, hilly landscapes and, in true hobbit fashion, private property.
Also I JUMPED OUT OF A PLANE.
I ate 2-3 breakfasts out of my backpack, even stopped to steal fruit off of others' property, and just generally pretended I was in the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring making my way towards The Prancing Pony and Rivendell quoting lines about how this is the furthest I've ever been from home and feeling quite proud of myself for my trespassing acumen and general aversion to all marked trails and sanctioned forms of transportation.
It was, as one might imagine, incomparable to anything I've done in life thus far.
Sure, I went on Tinder outings and wrote a spoofy article about the experience, but in truth, I spent most of the trip alone roaming through fields and mountains and living out the strange fantasy that is my wish for reality.
Then I came back to NYC and my crappy east village apartment and street that smells like garbage and resident homeless person and thought yep yeah I have no idea what I'm doing with my life.
Because it wouldn't be a vacation if it didn't result in a good ol' fashion identity crisis now would it.