As the car pulled away from the accommodation the tears were already stinging my eyes. I took a wrong turn 3 times in a row and ended up pulling over to take a deep breath. My brain was racing, road directions mingled with memories and huge red warning sirens went off in my head screaming at me to turn back, to stay away from this place, purposely sending me in the wrong direction.
We attach feelings to places. The place I got engaged will always make me smile. The places where good things happen will always bring us happy memories but the places we were hurt will always hold dark memories. I realised this as I finally pulled onto the right road. My hands gripped the steering wheel tighter as I drove the same road I had driven the morning of the accident.
My husband had asked me a million times all day what was up with me, why I was quiet and moody. I had no idea how to answer him, I didn’t know why I felt so off, so out of sorts, so….scared. I had no idea what this place would do to me when we decided to take a trip away. He was back in the cozy Airbnb now, watching tv and relaxing and I was driving away from the comfort and the safety of him and heading off alone deeper into Fiordland, crying my eyes out as I drove.
It felt magnetic somehow, the draw it had to my mind while my body was rigid with fear. I was filled with a morbid curiosity to see the place again and it filled me with disgust and terror that I actually wanted to return to such a place. What was wrong with me? But I didn’t feel like I was in control anymore, it felt like I was being summoned by an invisible force.
I cried as I drove, the tears grew as the distance to the track closed in in front of me. I gripped the steering wheel tightly as huge sobs ripped through my body and I wiped the tears from my eyes so I could still see the road. I ignored the beautiful scenery around me, I disregarded the snowy mountain tops and refused to look at the lake. My eyes were fixed on the road, a custom made type of gravity dragged the car closer and closer to the past.
I pulled into the tiny car park for mistletoe lake at last. The sun was dropping and I didn’t dare drive any further. My car sat alone in the deserted car park and I was gripped with terror as I stepped out of it, all feelings of safety stayed strapped in the drivers seat. The air hummed with my fear as I pulled my camera bag onto my back and I kept looking around me, my eyes searching for the danger that would explain this feeling in my chest.
The huge trees cast dark shadows in the thick forest that I walked through, shadowy shapes seemed to move along the path on either side of me, ghosts of the past stalking me as I walked. I watched for mud on the track, I watched for ghosts. I found both and my heart thudded in my chest. The sun dropped further and the wind picked up when I got to the scenic lake. The world was my own there, it was devoid of humanity and I sat at the picnic bench and cried again. Sadness dripped from my eyes.
I tried to take deep breaths but my nose was stuffy from crying. It was an ugly noisy sound and I inhaled through my mouth instead. Some places hold magic and some hold fear. I sat on the little bench and I imagined how most people would come here and think it beautiful, how the beauty of the place would seem like magic to them. I looked inside and I knew I felt nothing for it. My body still held the trauma, it was not ready to forgive.
I dropped my tense shoulders and unclenched my jaw. I wiggled my fingers and my toes and I sat up straight. I didn’t want to feel this anger towards a place, I wanted to dispel this feeling from my body.
I checked that there was definitely no one else around before I spoke out loud, I said “I forgive you”. I didn’t feel anything so I said it again, I said it over and over but still I felt tense, anger and fear mingled together in my veins and I just wanted to leave. My voice sounded meek in the vastness of the place and I felt small and insignificant and silly. This place didn’t want my forgiveness.
Feeling like I had failed, I continued along the path that suddenly wound downwards and took me into thick forest. The views of the lake were obscured by huge towering trees that blocked out the sky and the darkness pressed in on me. Every tiny sound made me jump, fear still sat deep in my bones as I walked through this place. My whole body was on alert, checking for danger, terrified of this mundane but unknown path. It finally emerged onto the main road and I walked back towards the car park thinking what a waste of time the whole thing was.
I was annoyed that I had tried to reconcile myself to the place and that I had failed. I felt abandoned by the universe and lost. Just as I thought that, I looked up and stopped abruptly in my tracks. In front of me was a lodge, it was called the Lone Moose.
There are 2 things that you should know about me for this story to make sense. The first is that I believe that everything happens for a reason, that the Universe has our back and sends us little signs to let us know we are on the right track. The second is that I am obsessed with moose. I have no idea why I am obsessed with them, I just am. I have never even seen one in real life but they have always fascinated me, so much so that I actually have a small tattoo of a moose on my ankle.
Now that you know that the rest of the story might make a bit more sense. At the exact second that I thought the Universe had abandoned me it presented me with a moose. A moose symbolises strength, endurance and survival. The silhouette of the moose on the sign was the exact tattoo that I have on my ankle. I have never before come across the symbol randomly in everyday life, never, not once, and I’ve had the tattoo for 10 years.
I’m sitting in the car now. I’m crying again but the tears are different now. Maybe I don’t love this place, maybe it’s never going to be the same for me again but the Universe just reminded me that the woman I am now is strong. She is fierce. She drove back here even through tears and sheer terror and once again she walked into a Fiordland forest all by herself. She faces her fears. She is stronger than she knows and she is going to be alright.
She is a moose.
A moose dressed in Lululemon pants and cute shoes that is.
Come say hi: