Sarah-Kate sets her watch to island time and swaps her computer screen for sunscreen.
I know I’m not the only person who feels like they’ve been on a hamster wheel for the past year or so.
For freelances, when Covid hit, it released every fear we’d managed for years to keep at bay: that one day nobody would want to hire us and we’d end up living in our cars – or worse, our mother’s cars.
And there was a little bit of that to begin with. I lost a job I loved and had done for decades, but now I’m doing this one instead. And I’m editing Scout, a New Zealand travel magazine, and currently working on three different TV shows.
In other words, as worry that the world was going to hell in a handbasket refused to abate, I didn’t get less busy. I got busier.
Then one morning I realised I had not had a day off in almost a month, my fingers had typed themselves to the bone, I’d not been properly dressed in living memory, nor had I left the house.
Without my new best friend Jimmy (canine), I think I would’ve gone totally bonkers or at least lost the ability to speak during daylight hours. As it is, most of what I have been saying involves “sit”, “stay”, “no”, “good boy” and some excruciatingly embarrassing baby talk I’m glad no one else but me (and him) can hear – and he probably thinks I’m talking to the pot plants.
Anyway, as I’ve been glued to my computer for all these months, the Ginger has been getting up to go to his work at an ungodly time and coming home in darkness to snatch an evening meal. At the weekend, all he wants to do is sleep.
So literally the moment his contract finished, Jimmy was packed off to stay with some other four-legged friends and the Ginger and I hived off to Rarotonga.
I mean, I know gratitude is the new black, and I’m thankful to be healthy and alive and living peacefully in Aotearoa and all that jazz, but please allow me a serious case of cabin fever.
I’ve loved the Cook Islands ever since I first came here back in 2013 and realised you didn’t need to go any further for that sun-kissed Hawaii vibe – but could get it less than a four-hour flight away without the crippling US exchange rate.
I love the warmth, the green lushness, the temperate sea, the friendly locals, the fresh- caught fish, the laidback atmosphere, the fact you can be swimming in the sea within an hour of touching down. In fact, it has become my happy place whether I’m here or not. Just thinking about it can sometimes make the hamster wheel if not go away, at least move a bit slower.
But actually being here means no hamster, no wheel.
The lap of waves, the tickle of winter island sunshine, the drums of the lagoon cruises in the distance…
Yes, I have to work while I’m here and I’m on my computer as we speak, but I’ve already been snorkelling for an hour and I’m wearing one layer of clothing and I have good hair because my follicles love the tropics.
I know not everyone can up and hop to the islands, but up and hopping somewhere is such an antidote to the wild ride we’ve all just been on and to which some of us are still clinging. Whatever your hamster wheel, I hope you’re managing to get off it. And wherever your happy place, I hope you’re going there soon. And that tiny umbrellas are involved.
Up and hopping somewhere is such an antidote to the wild ride we’ve all just been on