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There and Back Again

Song Lyric of the Day:

Many places I have been / Many sorrows I have seen / But I don’t regret / Nor will I forget / All who took the road with me

Billy Boyd / “The Last Goodbye

Last year I was ridiculously fortunate to be invited by my friend Nan to accompany her on the trip of a lifetime. She won a trip for two to New Zealand in the Hobbit Fan Fellowship contest. I had suggested she enter, and she said that if she won, she’d take me with her (I posted her winning movie at the end of this post). Clearly, she made good on her word, for which me saying thank you again to her (for the millionth time) still doesn’t seem adequate. Still: Thank you, Nan. You are forever my Hobbit boo. I knew when I first met her that we were going to be great friends, but I could never imagine how much and in how many ways I would come to treasure our friendship, and she knows that extends much deeper than the trip. Although that is some really fantastic icing on the cake.

Last week some of our Fellowship friends got together for the one-year anniversary. Neither Nan nor I could afford to fly to London, but we were with them in spirit. It would have been great to see some of our new friends again and reminisce about the trip as well as make new memories. Maybe next year we can manage to join them again.

It’s a strange beast to be a part of something like this. I can only speak for myself (and Nan, to an extent), but the Hobbit Fan Fellowship trip was a truly life-changing thing. Even before we set off on our first flight (of three) on the long journey to New Zealand, Nan and I knew we were going on the trip of a lifetime. Not only was it an all-expenses-paid trip, but New Zealand 100% Pure, Air New Zealand, and Warner Bros. went all out with the events, surprises, excursions, chartered flights, special guests, and even meals they planned for us (open bars rule!). It really was the kind of vacation experience most of us can only dream of. My only regret is that Nan and I couldn’t share it with our family and other close friends, a regret I imagine some other members of our Fellowship might also have.

We did, however, get to experience this with 148 other people from all over the world, 74 of which were the lucky “plus ones” like myself. We got to know the sweet, kind, funny, smart tour guides, Air New Zealand flight crew, Warner Bros. reps, and camera/sound crew who led, accompanied, spoiled, and documented us every step of the way. While we didn’t get to know or talk to everyone on the trip, those we did were like us: eternally grateful to have been invited on this journey. The Fellowship is made up of a really good bunch of eggs.

I hope and will do my best to save up so that Nan and I can join them for another reunion, one I would love to bring Rich and Coraline along for. Because after hearing about the magic of New Zealand and Rich reading her The Hobbit, Coraline can’t wait to experience it all herself someday.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to treasure my memories of that magical week in the Real Middle-earth, and be happy I have 149 other people who know exactly what it was like to be there.

I made sure Nan was right next to Peter Jackson for our group photo following the screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
I made sure Nan was right next to Peter Jackson for our group photo following the screening of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (she’s to his right, and I’m right behind her).
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