16 Jan 2024

My Hometown: 'This home has carried me everywhere'

Samantha Mythen poses by the sea in Cornwall, England
From My Hometown, 8:00 am on 16 January 2024

My hometown is waking up to the sound of my grandad’s radio, with the grandfather clock chiming 7am, sitting down at a table laid with hot tea and orange juice and endless slices of Coupland’s brown bread lightly toasted, soon smothered in butter and vegemite. It’s a place of two lakes, Roto-rua, and eating custard square with my grandma.

It’s sunbathing, eyes closed, relaxed and content. Until a sudden downpour jolts me awake, my aunty giggling as she darts back into the kitchen, empty bucket in hand. 

It’s the beaches and baches, the fishing, diving and snorkelling in the sea. Matauri Bay was the address I told Santa to visit every Christmas. Sand between toes, toes curling into grass, eyes taking in vast, endless ocean views, adventure always calling, beckoning. 

Matauri Bay, Northland

Matauri Bay, Northland: "The address I told Santa to visit every Christmas." Photo: Samantha Mythen

My hometown is in the South Island’s spine, old mountains laughing at my young worries as I stretch out my legs to keep up with my dad. He’s got a heavier pack and is still much quicker than me. It’s clipping into ski boots to spend the day chasing fun, stopping for coffee, resting to sit and just enjoy the view next to him. 

It’s the white Hilux that took my family and me there and back again throughout Aotearoa, visiting all of its nooks and crannies, a pack of CDs including Fat Freddy’s Drop and Adele, the soundtrack for summer, winter, spring and autumn roadies. 

It’s the couch where we’d watch movies on a projector every Friday evening, the Video Easy in Blenheim where Mum and I would pick two films - an action one for Dad and a rom-com for us, the Whittaker's block of chocolate divided into three. 

Samantha Mythen with her parents Patricia and Neil Mythen.

Samantha Mythen and her parents, Neil and Patricia Mythen. Photo: Samantha Mythen

It’s my mother’s arms. 

In person. 

Or when she tells me on the phone to close my eyes. To place my arms around my shoulders, to squeeze tight, and imagine it’s a hug from her. 

My hometown is a summer of calling up my girlfriends for endless boogie after boogie. It’s the voice of my childhood best friend, she’s a real life metaphor for ABBA’s 'Chiquitita', calling me wherever I then called home. 

My hometown is currently covered in snow. It’s white fondant icing on top of houses tucked away in a ski village in the Japanese Alps. It’s in the laughter of a British girl as we despair over boys, then grin in glee over where we find ourselves again. It’s the soul sisters scattered across the earth creating an incandescent constellation of north stars guiding me home. 

It’s those eyes, framed by those thick brown eyebrows, shaded by that mop of curly hair. Concerned, cheeky, challenging, mostly miraculous magic they glitter back at me. 

Samantha Mythen

Samantha Mythen in Pompeii, Italy: "This home has carried me everywhere." Photo: Samantha Mythen

My hometown is an olive-skin body, with chocolate button moles, a scar on the right elbow, a burn on the right hand, and big blue saucer eyes. Long black eyelashes that make sounds when they blink. Blonde but brown, then blonde again hair. An ankle adorned with bells, tinkling music everywhere I go. Feet slipped into well-worn Birkenstocks. 

This home has carried me everywhere through towns of learning, learning about law, about how to work a 9-5, through villages of heartbreak, through cities of sunlit euphoria, and through hamlets of growth like wildflowers on sloping hills and in pavement cracks. 

My hometown is the icy seas of Cornwall that reminded me of home, where I baptised myself every evening dancing between the arms of the horizon and the sun. My hometown is tiny village Vico where I laughed and cried and sang myself jolly and back into the moment with one of my best friends in the whole wide world. 

My hometown is the ship that sailed under the stars on the Mediterranean Sea where I reminded myself I could do this, where I finally became my own best friend. It’s the beating heart in this endlessly wandering body, looking out to the world in awe. 

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