For 10 blissfully slow-moving days, I have been living my life in a parallel universe.
Normally I am habitually just on the unhealthy side of stressed out, I choose to do one more task than I can comfortably fit into my day and I depart point A five minutes too late to arrive at point B when I ought to.
I suck at being slow, unless it's slow cooking which, when you boil it down (please pause to admire that awfully clever pun) is just a fashionable way to describe the trend of eating stew every day because it's easy.
So thanks, Queenstown. I love you, Wanaka. Your craggy peaks and deep, soulful blue lakes have forced me to sit still and just be.
Be wowed. Be stilled. Be slowed.
If there is one thing that makes my heart sing it is watching the low, seductive light of early evening slide across the landscape. But because this happens beyond suburbia and at a time when I'm more likely to be found parked in front of a high chair talking up broccoli, I seldom get to indulge this pleasure. But among the Central Otago mountains it is impossible to miss Mother Nature's light show.
Such is the sweeping scale and surplus of mountains here that one only needs to pause long enough to appreciate them. It took me a few days but I was soon into the groove of life in the slow lane and loving it. Initial lofty goals to burn through lots of work while I had extra help with parenting were canned in favour of enjoying long adventures over short distances with my son in a way that isn't possible during wedding photography season. Being away from home was incredible in so many ways.
But as I packed our bag this evening, I felt something I hadn't had since I was a Girl Guide sent to camp. I felt homesick. I was starting to feel like the only thing better than leaving reality behind would be returning to it. One of the more obvious reasons for this is that my husband is back home and I've been watching a few episodes of The Bachelor. There's nothing quite like seeing a bunch of desperate and (single) dateless Kiwi women lap up the cringey one-liners artlessly delivered by Jordan Mauger to make a girl appreciate how good she's got it at home in the real world instead of the "reality" one.
But even the less obvious things in everyday life can be missed given the chance.
Although I often complain about being busy, it's not until I'm given the chance to do very little that I realise I thrive on activity.
I get fidgety without it.
I can't wait to get back and work through my to-do list instead of delegating it to others.
I'm looking forward to the simplicity and ease of life with Edward when all his routines are back in place.
I can't wait to get coffee at my local, shuffle to my desk at the studio and compare edits with my happy little team. In short, I'm homesick for my habits.
Being away has even changed the way I write.
I'm more contemplative, I dive deeper to try to put into words what I'm thinking and feeling. I'm more emotional and less cynical. Which might be making some of you homesick for the way things used to be.
So watch this space, y'all. Next week I'll be rushing around, picking at the scab of life to see what's under it. In short, the b***h will be back. Just the way you like it, right?
- Eva Bradley is a columnist and photographer.