So, recently my overseas adventure came to an end and I returned home to New Zealand.
On one hand, it’s taken some adjusting to get back into the old ways of doing things while I get back on my feet with a job and what not.
On the other, the experience of coming home is much like exploring an old idea you found in your bottom desk drawer.
You look at it again with fresh eyes and notice again the finer points about it that made you love it in the first place.
During the second week I was back, I did some work for my uncle who is a landscaper. I worked almost the whole day on a building site without a drink because I was still stuck in my Malaysian mindset.
I remembered that you can go to almost any house in New Zealand, sneak around the side, turn on their garden tap and drink whatever comes out.
Of course, you could do this in Malaysia too, just as long as you were prepared to grab your blanket and pillow and live in your toilet for the next 3 days.
Arriving back, I stepped into my house for the first time in a long time and beelined it toward the fridge.
The first thing I drank was a big glass of fresh, New Zealand milk. This was one of the biggest things I took for granted while overseas.
With the exception of France, milk in all the other countries I’ve visited taste like shit. Especially in Malaysia.
Liquid cardboard, pretty much.
All milk in Malaysia has to get Ultra Heat Tested, which kills the creamy taste and you’re left with something that I’d be hesitant to pour into a cake mix.
This is very depressing for someone who loves milk as much as I do. When I left my family of five to live in Malaysia, household milk consumption went down by a third.
I got a taste of the Australasian art of conversation while I was in Turkey a month back. I didn’t even realise what I was missing until I got talking with proper Kiwis and Aussies again. The raw, unedited sense of humour; the old back and forth between a bunch of blokes (and a few sheilas). I never thought twice about how esoteric it is until I left.
It simply isn’t something you encounter in any other country.
Great things, whether it’s a place to be, a favoured film or even a piece of work you did, are made up of tiny details that you appreciate just as much as the whole.
Without them, you wouldn’t have something great.
With creative work, it applies especially; it’s the little details you add to a project that make it just that much more special.
There are those that don’t recognise the significance of those details. I kick up a mighty shit if a cafe buggers up my banana milkshake order, whereas my friends wouldn’t give a shit.
Sometimes those people are in a position of shot-calling when it comes to your work and you have to defend every aspect of it, the key to which is simply meeting each other on an imaginary plateau of understanding.
However, don’t be tricked into thinking you can do without some of those aspects, especially if you feel deep down they make all the difference.
And if you can’t make it work, save it for someone who will appreciate it.
Being a copywriter, I often found myself defending the lives of very particular words in my copy just because they added something small, but interesting to the piece that would have to be read by someone sitting in their living room, reading the newspaper.
Some lived, some died, but I’d fight for each one because I believed they each did a good job at making the words that much more readable.
A year and a half ago, New Zealand wasn’t working out. Freelance work was all I was managing to get and so I took an opportunity overseas.
Now, having spent time away from the idea of New Zealand, just like an old idea from the bottom drawer, I approach it was renewed vigour and appreciation.
How I left this place to begin with is beyond me.
Got it, bad tap water & shitty milk.
Got to love the colour and the odour of the tap water, makes the white laundry more yellowish and the coffee/tea taste awful.