If I were a godwit (kuaka), I'd join the flock on our early March migration from New Zealand to Alaska.
From there, I'd head to the Lower 48 to see friends and family. The godwit can do what humans cannot - fly away and return to Aotearoa without spending two weeks in managed isolation.
It takes the kuaka about a week to fly 12,000km. For Māori, they were birds of mystery, believed to accompany spirits of the departed.
This last thought catches in my throat, like I'm trying to wash down cotton with seawater.
I'm far from alone in the sadness of feeling caged in the world's most beautiful jail.
Twenty-seven per cent of us were born elsewhere. For every inkling we have about a tropical island escape, there is another thought, thrumming and insistent - we need to visit the motherland.
Our relatives overseas aren't getting younger. Neither are we.
The pandemic has deepened worry lines and spurred exponential growth of new grey hairs.
Some of our family members are battling cancer and chronic diseases that threaten their lives as much, if not more, than Covid-19.
Other friends and family are having babies we fear we may not see in person until the kid starts kindergarten.
One year after Covid-19 joined the vernacular in New Zealand, we're living like our kiwi namesake as a team of five million flightless birds.
The Government this week announced a more detailed timetable for rolling out the Covid vaccine.
Border and health care workers are getting their shots this month. About 1.7 million people at high-risk if they catch the virus will start getting vaccinated in May. The rest of the population can expect shots available from July.
How about a timetable for the gradual re-opening of our borders? How about a plan that would lay out scenarios based on if/then?
For example, if we can ensure every person entering New Zealand is vaccinated, then we can gradually reopen.
If we enable better monitoring systems via technology, then we can allow more stranded Kiwis to return. Those of us who want to leave and come back could do so.
I'm not ungrateful for where we sit in Aotearoa. I appreciate that the rest of the world envies our mostly mask-less, mass-gathered lives.
My American friends' children are just starting back to class after a year of online schooling. Events are virtual.
Travellers can fly in and out of the US without spending two weeks isolating in a government-run hotel.
Also, more than a half-million Americans have died from Covid. We don't want that horribleness here.
As mentioned many times, other countries have better systems to control the pandemic.
NZME science reporter Jamie Morton wrote last week, "With a population of 23.8 million, and a population density of 671 people per kilometre, Taiwan has recorded fewer border and community cases than New Zealand, and fewer deaths."
But Morton also examines reasons we can't be like Taiwan: they were prepared years ago for a pandemic; laws enable them to access citizens' information; they masked up early; they use smart technology like a GPS-based system for contact tracing and quarantine monitoring that would likely cause privacy worries for Kiwis.
New Zealand experts have for months called on the Government to use digital tracking of arriving travellers and border workers through managed isolation and quarantine.
They say the Government has refused to even explore the issue due to privacy concerns. It's past time to explore.
The Government announced earlier this week it had established an independent advisory group to review handling of the most recent coronavirus outbreak and "sharpen" its ongoing pandemic response. Could the group also devise plans to ease border restrictions?
MIQ facilities are full; ex-pat Kiwis face extreme difficulty getting home; some are still stranded around the globe.
Those of us already here who want to be with family members overseas risk financial ruin by leaving.
Travel health insurance policies do not cover Covid-related expenses; most make it difficult, if not impossible, to insure for other pre-existing conditions.
This could mean bankruptcy if we get sick abroad and can't return to New Zealand because there's no room at the inn.
Some of us may resort to extreme measures like joining a Russian fishing crew or The Wiggles if we want a space in MIQ.
Vaccinations worldwide provide an ever-expanding window to let more travellers in and out of the country.
We could allow people with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test to isolate at home.
I, for one, would wear a monitoring device if it meant permission to leave New Zealand and return without fighting for a rare MIQ spot and paying thousands of dollars for 14 days in a hotel.
We have proven our ability to do hard things and to change our systems when needed.
Technology and vaccinations could permit more permeable borders while still safeguarding public health.
Why should only godwits get to fly?