I miss everyone who came and went. I can't help but feel that I should have spent more time alone with every one of them and it annoys me a little that I never was really able to get that. I look forward to future holidays where people have more time and less people to compete with. And, although this might sound weird, less money to spend. If they have less, I spend less, you see! I spent so much cash that it's insane, but I know in previous meetups we managed it so much better. There was too much to do, too much taxi travel required, too many fancy restaurants visited. I hope I didn't put anyone into debt. I went £1,000 into debt on my credit card, which for me is just insane because I expected to be no more than £300 in debt at the end of it. I don't have any real regrets about what we did nor do I have a single regret about spending so much on other people, I can pay it off in a couple of months without any trouble whatsoever. I still have more savings in my regular account than this time last month, so I can balance it a bit that way, too.
I had the time of my life over the past two weeks, though. Just an incredible, amazing time. I don't think I'll ever experience anything like that again and I treasure every moment.
There were, for me, four key components of the past week. Getting married, reuniting with my family, the EoFF meetup and meeting Sarah. The latter is probably less obvious to people on the sidelines but for me it was a seperate thing. I hope to do it again without having to balance my time between so many people someday. I'm sure it'll happen eventually... if it doesn't I'll be pissed off. But on this occasion the wedding took priority.
I'm so glad to be married, by the way. I mean, I'm going to be honest and say it hasn't changed anything between Danielle and myself. We're back to normal now - we're sitting at home in our bedclothes, gaming, eating, watching football (in my case), napping to catch up on lost sleep throughout the past week... but basically getting married hasn't changed much between ourselves, if anything at all. I think that's how it should be - in our minds, we were already married in our hearts and in our minds. This was just the right thing to do in order to make it not just official, but to bring everyone together to celebrate it. This week may have been brought about by the wedding, but it was everything else that had more of an impact on our lives, more of a change. Not necessarily more important, mind you. I just find it hard to write about the wedding because it not only flew by so fast in a stream of busy days, but also because it hasn't provided the powerful change that the other things have.
For me, the easiest things to write about are the other three. I'm going to keep it brief for now because my mind is struggling a little (EDIT: So much for that!). Maybe I'll elaborate on them more in the future, but for now this will sum up the 'pow' factor the three things had on my life as opposed to the 'wow' factor of the wedding!
Meeting my family again was sort of how I expected it to be - I expected to pick up exactly where I left off. I love my family to bits. I don't call often, I don't write at all, I don't do much communication outside of Facebook with them to be honest. Skype is once or twice a year. This is because for me, in my head, so little changes with family. They're a permanent thing in your life and you love them no matter what. You hear about what happens with them, you're happy for them etc, but I find it hard to be really involved when I'm on the other side of the planet. Timezones in particular make it hard, but I always was the kind of guy to sit in my room and only take part in family stuff when summoned. Which to be fair, was quite regular back in the day - dinners, TV, holidays, big and little things. But that's just how I am, I suppose. No matter what, I always love them and I don't resent any of them for anything. Time spent with family is time well spent, and I still look upon each of them fondly. I get along with them great, too, which was awesome. It was genuinely a case of picking up where I left off - when I left NZ, I could chat with any of them about almost anything. When they got here, we were just as chatty with each other, I was delighted about it.
Random note about the wedding as I slip on to the next bit - I'm surprised a little that during the wedding I spent so little time with my family and the EoFFers. I suppose I knew that I would have time with them on other days, and let's face it, I didn't spend huge amounts of time with anyone in particular (Danielle aside), but I could have done with more time with Steph, Bubba, Sarah, people who I didn't get to see much of later in the week (if at all) and people who are hugely important to me. Oh well. Weddings, eh? 100 people and time to speak to 50 of them for about five minutes each, I find. I was mostly spending my time running from the dance floor anyway!
Meeting Sarah was a dream for me. Most of my greatest friendships have been born offline rather than online. Dan was not my closest, best friend before I met him. Tara, likewise, met me before we were really, truly close, and Jess I was close to during our time more than anything. With Sarah, I've been close to her for ten years, and known her for at least two more. So this was in some sense a very new thing for me and she definitely had the biggest solo impact on me when it comes to the very large number of people I met for the first time these two weeks. I'm delighted that she and Danielle both got along like a house on fire, because I really do hope to someday travel with Danielle to hang out with her in America if Sarah doesn't beat us to it and move over here (in which case she'll be welcome to stay with us whenever, I'm sure, as can be said for pretty much every person we met this fortnight!). I love that girl with the same closeness that I hold for my wonderful cousin, Sus. It's beyond mere friendship, beyond family, but still platonic... Sarah and Sus are two people that have a closeness to me that transcends time and distance and I know that I could spend 50 years away from them and then return to the with the same closeness as if I'd never been gone. In both cases, I can't wait.
The other EoFFers were quite simply awesome and somehow the perfect fit. I can't say I got time to get to know Bubba or Chris, which is a real shame, but the rest I spent time with outside of the wedding day and it was endless fun. No bad times whatsoever, we constantly laughed, we had no problems talking about secrets, cuddling up to each other as we walked down the street or lay on the couch, paying for each other's food, drinks and taxis... not once do I recall a moment that someone was left out or unhappy with what was going on. I know some people did get ill, but they kept their high spirits and smiles. It was just awesome. We've talked casually about a reunion meetup in a couple of years... I really hope it happens. I particularly felt I didn't get enough time with Ashley, either, who is absolutely awesome and hilarious. She was gone early on, along with Marion, so I hope I get to see both of them again.
Man, I'm just so happy with how it all panned out. Everything was just great. The fact that I've written 12,000 words yesterday and now I've done another uh... *MS Word count check* 1,400+ words now sums up just how much has gone on that I feel is massively important and needs to be detailed. I love reading what other people have to say about it all, too. So I hope more of them write up stuff. It just means a lot to me to hear about other people's thoughts and experiences through all this.
In case you haven't noticed... I really love my friends, family and - more than anyone - Danielle.