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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Dione

Business Ball Bask

Monday was difficult. Really difficult. I am writing this (for the moment at least), from a stationary aircraft bound for Queenstown, NZ. My head hurts. I’ve taken painkillers and drunk plenty of water but nothing seems to be helping. I have stretched, washed and skin-cared my way to the airport this morning to try and make my mood feel less like the floating turd that it is. As they say in Mad Men; “Splash cold water on your face and go outside. You'll notice things are right where you left them”.


After the drama of the fire drill (which I’m sure you read about in my previous blog), there was a full day of business ahead of me. Two of Bens lovely work colleagues were meeting us for coffee and to help us apply for NZ drivers licences, banks cards and phone contracts. They were both very lovely and extremely helpful in helping us navigate this foreign system we were becoming a part of. The first stop was to try the famous and superior coffee of New Zealand; it was amazing! It wasn’t bitter, it was strong but gracious and gave me the energy needed to take-on what was ahead of us on the agenda. Fun little tidbit: Apparently New Zealand is a place where if they burn the beans or ground coffee, the customer will be able to taste it, they will hand it back to the barista and get a fresh cup with no problems. Coffee is very important here, and extremely tasty!

Drivers licences were next and you can smile in your photos here! Wild. Also, the eye sight check is a lot more testing than the one I did when I got my licence in the UK. I sat in the test car, an 18 year old nervous and determined learner and was asked to read out the numberplate from a car about 20 meters away. Hard? I think not. Here on there other hand, there is a device that you place your head up too and there are rows of letters and flashing lights. Being the unique flower that I am, I have a prescription for my left eye but not my right. My right eye normally does the heavy lifting and I only use my glasses for reading (as prescribed). I am not kidding you when I say that I shat a brick when I lowered my head onto that devise. The right letters were clear as day and the left side of the screen looked like Picasso had gotten drunk and written it out whilst plowing a field. I waited, it got worse. I blinked, no improvement. I’m sure it was only a few seconds but it felt like forever and I was convinced in that moment that I would not be allowed a NZ licence, have my UK licence forcibly removed and not be allowed behind the wheel of a car on account of being blind as fuck. Finally, slowly and barley, the letters on the left came into focus and I adjusted to the test before me. Whilst this is a thorough test, under no fucking circumstances am I going to drive with one hand over my right eye just for the fucking thrill of it! I do probs need another eye test though.

*Update: Ben brought it up a couple of days later saying that the left side was really blurry! I was relieved to hear this as Ben has 20/20 vision. I feel a lot better about it now.*


After our hands had been held through every job that needed doing and some vital leisurely purchases: Flip flops, deck shoes, suncream etc, we were left to our own devises. As the mid-summer sun beamed down onto my hat, my bloated stomach grew and I could feel anxiety rising inside my chest like milk that had been left too long in the microwave. The bubbles rose and fell repeatedly and all I could do was take a deep breath and pretend that I had no idea why I was feeling this way. As we completed out final tasks I became snappier with Ben and a little like a lost puppy wondering around shops with no real purpose or direction. We were trying to shop for dinner and normally I am on it and organised but the food on the shelves merged together and the traffic of people moving around me felt like a wave that I was sinking under.

We bought the basics, confident we would be able to whip something together and headed back to the hotel to unpack and repack a suitcase that we could leave in a friends garage whilst we were in Wanaka. The pick up was 5pm but all I wanted was to get out of the city and into water. I was so angry, I felt like there was an elephant sat on my chest and every little thing irritated me to no end. Finally the case was packed and I decided to lie on the bed and put my legs up the wall to try and reduce my anxiety and ease my bloating. Ben was totally unaware of why I was being so snappy with him, rare for Ben but we had a lot going on. I knew that he had forgotten what was coming today... what I had to prepare for tonight. I wanted to hold off reminding him until we had all our ducks in a row and I had the space and mental capacity to process it because the second I told him would be the second I break.

As I lay there with my feet up the wall, I felt my bottom lip start to shudder and my breathing became laboured but silent. I didn’t want to call any attention to it, I wasn't ready to do this yet. I wanted it to stop... but my body took over. I breathed through the rising wave of emotions inside me as it gathered speed and complexity, the edges began to transform into a white foam as tears silently rolled down my cheek and onto the sheet. The water swelled and it grew taller, my lungs stopped moving and I held my breath inside of me until the wave was at its full hight, ready to crash and tumble through its path to the shore. Red in the face and quickly running out of oxygen, I finally let out the breath I had been holding hostage and wept aloud for the first time. Tears rolled down my temple and into my hair as I lay on my back and let the current take me.

Ben’s worried face appeared above me as he rushed to my side in confusion. Overlooking his now balling girlfriend, he asked me what was wrong but I physically couldn’t find the breath to answer him. I just sobbed, my breath bounced up and down faster and faster inhaling very little air. Ben's cold fingers wiped away a tear from my hot red face and the sensation of his touch made me feel like I was being grounded for the first time in hours. Grabbing hold of his hands, still unable to speak, I held him on either side of my head and finally I breathed a full breath. With the strength I gained I finally managed to utter the words: “It’s Grandads funeral today”. “Oh shit I completely forgot!” he exclaimed guiltily, little did he know at the time, he was supposed to. Being treated differently would have brought this breakdown to the front of the days agenda and rendered me incompetent at best, during the orientation with his colleagues. My bloated stomach was now the size of a woman in her third trimester and I knew exactly where I wanted to go: The beach.


We packed up our things, left the case for collection at reception and made our way to a place of distraction. The streets were bustling on our walk there, the absence of a to-do list and the sea-front air filled my chest and made me smile. We walked side by side, discussing random topics and taking in the culture of Wellington (possibly for the first time). We saw Eagle Rays at the harbour, a sight I had never seen before. They were sunbathing in shallow water and they were beautiful. So calm and I was so grateful to see them in their natural habitat for the first time!

Arriving at the beach we lay down our towels and lay in the 27 degree sun. Once it bacame too hot for us to handle, we decided we decided we would venture into the water which is famously cold even in the height of summer. The rumours are true. Holy shit that was cold. It didn’t help that the outside world was so hot, it made the transition from sand to water positively breath-taking, (or should I say ‘ball shrinking’). The only way I was going to get my body submerged was if I took a running start at it and dived under. One, two, three, four steps back towards my towel, I turned on my heal and charged my body at the ocean with all of my might, as the water started to weigh down my feet and I lost momentum my knees jumped my body into the air and I dived deep into the water.

Freezing water wrapped around my limps and cooled my core, I felt a rush of adrenaline and a boost in serotonin, this was just the medicine I needed. My stomach was already shrinking, my aching muscles gave way to the emotions that had encumbered my day and eventually, my grief took its first steps towards healing and acceptance.

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