Google maps said the trip should have taken about 4.5 hours to get to Hahei, but due to the torrential downpour and stops we made exploring random roadside attractions, it felt more like I spent a whole day driving. My friend Jemma did well to stay awake considering she drove from Fielding the night before - she climbed on the top bunk bed just before 2am. I made sure my usual 5am alarm on my phone, not that I needed it these days.
They say friendships change when you have a baby. Shelley, Susan and I have been friends since high school. For most of our adult lives we’ve lived in different towns. Then two years ago Shelley had her daughter, Katelyn.
We would see each other on occasion, that in itself was no easy feat as it seemed like our schedules always clashed. When you add kids into the mix, you have to make a conscious effort to evolve your friendship.
One day, after realising that we had not seen each other in over a year, we made a plan to do a road trip together - with a toddler in town.
As we sit here in our PJs and eating chocolate biscuits - Susan and Shelley sipping on a glass of wine, me with a glass of milk, it’s a long way from our party days. Not that we mind. The reason for this trip is to reconnect, not to revert back to our youth.
We booked a cabin at a campground in Waihi Beach, not wanting to risk pitching a tent in case it rained. As three women, sure, but not such a good idea with a two year old.
By 9.30pm, we had crashed out. I fell asleep to the sound of Shelley reading Katelyn a story and making farm animal noises.
Campground culture is interesting. With daylight savings almost over, it’s 6am and still in complete darkness. I have been sitting outside in semi-darkness for over 30 minutes because I couldn’t remember which light switch turned on the outside light (not wanting to risk the wrath of grumpy room-mates.)
The communal bathroom light turned off on me - obviously signalling that I had been sitting there for too long. The rest of the campground was lit well enough to explore without a flashlight.
From outside our cabin, the majority of guests filled the cabins, camper vans and freedom camper conversions. A scattering of tents could possibly be a nod to the cooler nights of Autumn. I wish brought my slippers.
Is that a sign of adulting, or am I just getting old? Just old.
The moon overhead reminds me of a half eaten M&M you might find stuck between the sofa cushions. The initial find is euphoric, then you realise it’s been there for months accumulating fart particles. If it was a full moon I wouldn’t need the harsh glow of a man-made contraption.
Everyone is still asleep - except for the cicadas who seem to be on a 24-hour rotation. I heard Katelyn cry briefly, probably from a nightmare. She settled once Shelley comforted her, she’s good like that.
I have been awake for over an hour now. The stars have faded, giving way to the sunrise. I wish I walked to the beach, but it was dark earlier and I didn’t want to go alone.
Maybe I don’t like sleep at the moment because I love getting lost in my thoughts and I can express myself in my writing (I feel lighter for it). Though I do find my dreams allow me access to my subconscious, where a more honest and less filtered version of me lives.
I’ll just nap in the car.
If Susan gets her way we’ll get pancakes for brunch. If Shelley gets her way, Katelyn will want to sleep until 9am. Most of what makes us happy are the simpler things in life - so why most of us choose to be so complicated?
Like us, friendships are made to evolve - we choose our happiness based on our priorities, life choices and who bats for us in our team.
The three of us all lead very different lives now, and in that car, this weekend, it feels like we’re learning more about each other. We’re not as youthful as we used to be. Our friendship is changing - and what remains is the mutual intention to grow in life, even if we’re not always in other’s orbit.