“But you can travel on for ten thousand miles, and still stay where you are.”- Harry Chapin
When I arrived in Queenstown, I was broken.
My long-term relationship had broken down five months previously and I had moved back in with my parents. I wasn’t enjoying my job anymore. Everything was off and I was on medication to get through the day. I had lost a lot of weight in a very short amount of time and I became fixated on exercise. I hated my hometown and the idea of being trapped there for the rest of my days.
I ran away. I had to. The emotional turmoil of those past 3 years and the deep depression I was in during my last year in England meant that it was do or die. Quite literally, I think.So I quit my job, sold and donated and packed up my belongings and set off on my journey.
I arrived in QT to be met by one school friend who I’d barely kept in touch with since leaving school 6 years previously. Regardless of this, as soon as she knew I was coming she offered me a place to stay and to collect me from the airport. Despite her having had a party the night before and me not being feeling confident that she was safe to drive, I was so happy to see her and it marked the start of what I know will be a lifelong friendship.
My first morning there, I set off down the hill into town and walked around in the early morning sun. I went to Patagonia, an Argentinian chocolate restaurant that also serves up a delicious breakfast. I sat by the lake, eating my fresh fruit salad and drinking my deliciously decadent hot chocolate, taking in my new home.I remember vividly that for the first time in a long time, despite sitting alone, I did not feel loneliness. I felt alive rather than dead. I felt excited rather than anxious.
I had made the decision not to take any medication with me. This was a fresh start and I was going to be a new person. It hasn’t been an easy ride. There are times where I’ve hated myself for not bringing one single tablet with me; but I get through it.
Queenstown is a place that you automatically fall in love with. It accepts everyone from all backgrounds and nationalities and offers up what you need most. For me that was friendship, places to get lost and bars to get drunk in. I had it in abundance.
My work colleagues were fantastic at Pita Pit and put up with more grief than they deserved really. Having come off my medication, I wasn’t always easy to work with when I was having a bleak week and they honestly dealt with it better than I would have, hade it been the other way round.My first lot of housemates were loud and crazy and completely different from one another. They distracted me from things I didn’t have the strength to work through at the time. I don’t think I ever told them how much good they did; accepting me for me and educating me to the locals lifestyle. I will be forever grateful.
I met the most amazing people wherever I went. My self-belief grew massively within that first month. Some days I just wanted to be by myself and that was OK. I worked through a lot during those moments.
I know how much of a cliché it all sounds. Heartbreak, depression, runs away to the other side of the world, falls in love again… which I have done (crazy, stupid love).I suppose mostly Queenstown showed me that you can always start over. I could have done it in another town in England but I chose to do it in one of the most stunning places on the other side of the world.When I left Queenstown to move to Auckland, it was harder than leaving my mum at the airport (sorry!) QT has been a massive part of me establishing myself as an individual. Not as a carer, a customer service advisor, a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a friend; just me, Minna. So, I cried as we took off on the tiny runway and made our way over the lake, mountains either side.
Queenstown healed me; but it stole my heart in the process.