There’s an air of unreality, returning home to New Zealand. 

It’s Inception, really. This afternoon I slouched on the couch in the house I spent three years in, but it’s been over a year since I’ve actually lived there. I watched Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt navigate layers of dreams– and I didn’t know up from down, either. Because half way through the movie, I simply turned on a tap, and was jolted by an electric shock of three-years-worth of memories.

Yet what throws me off is that for so long they weren’t memories. It was daily life. All of it. Walking across the road to BTI, hanging out at the YWAM houses on the weekend, green hills and blue sky and wet pavement. I spent those years getting flashbacks of other places, grieving the loss of Hawaii, struggling with the confusion of wanting to be in Australia but not seeing how it was possible.

Now? Over a year since I graduated university in New Zealand, I’ve been to five countries, three of which I would identify as “home”. And now I’m back where I started? I feel like I’m waking up from a dream. But how do you wake up from a dream that happened? How do you process the ideas planted in your mind through real experiences? 

I wake up from a dream of European cobblestone streets and realise that it didn’t come from some stray book I read, but instead an actual memory. Then, I look out my very-real window at rolling green hills, and it looks exactly like the movies I watched as a child. Finally, a tiny pixelated screen flashes and I talk to my family– who happen to live across an ocean.

As a result, I have no sense of up from down at the moment. I’d like to make it all pretty, I’d like to spout off the fact that God is my constant (and oh He is!) but that phrase would also be a poor bandaid over a bad wound. A wound that bleeds at any mention of Australia or DTS or Amsterdam. I’m struggling to find grounding, desperately trying to convince my heart that five weeks in New Zealand is enough to have a grasp on some sense of this reality.

Or, more simply put, I hope that five weeks is long enough to forget the good I’ve left behind.

So it was a bit of an inconvenience, one morning at church, when I heard the question,

“What do you need?”

Cross-legged on the floor, I finally whimpered, “I need you to reminisce with me, talk about memories of Australia, say those remember when’s…”

…and it hit me in full force. Our worship team was playing Transfiguration. Not just a pretty song, but a song that I first heard when it was recorded live at the Hillsong Conference, the week before my DTS.

“Remember when you heard this first?” 
Me, I cried. Because when you’ve had a friend by your side through it all– you realise it wasn’t a dream. 
You know it was real.
I like that.
Photos: Rainy day in Tauranga, New Zealand. April 2016. 
Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia. June 2015.