Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back in Napier

I suppose that your location in the world dictates the necessity for certain garments rendered useless by the rest of the world. In England, I’m sure you’re more or less required to have things like monocles and top-hats stashed away in your attic. The Irish must have closets filled with tweed jackets and tobacco pipes. In Pittsburgh, black and gold, shirts, hats, shoes, pants, doesn’t matter, rules all. You probably have a mask or two and some beads if you’re native to New Orleans. If you live in Napier, you have a wardrobe from 1930’s, just in case. This weekend was Art Deco Weekend (Napier is the Art Deco capital of NZ, after the town was rebuilt after a 1931? earthquake). The town was absolutely packed this weekend with people dressed from the 30s, in their antique cars, while big bands serenaded the passerby. Today, folks leisurely picnicked for hours in their pearls and gowns, suspenders and caps, breaking only for croquet and cigarettes (in holders, of course). The sweet summer air perfumed with champagne and the laughter of the upper-crust made me feel like I was in The Great Gatsby. Or, on the film set of The Great Gatsby, behind the scenes, but with everyone refusing to step out of character, even when the cameras are off.

I started working on an apple orchard a couple days after I got back. Which is good, because I was almost out of money. When Jan and I returned, I decided to live in my car until I got a job, as incentive to find work. But, now, I’m kind of just used to it and know I will save a lot of money if I stay there for a little longer. I don’t want to move back into Toad Hall—I wasn’t saving any money by paying so much rent. I may move in with my friend Cecilia tomorrow, or Vicki (Ana’s twin). They both have a spare room in their flats and rent is only 70 or 80 NZ dollars a week (approx. 50-60 U.S.). In a way, I kind of like being homeless, though. I think it would get old after a few weeks, but for a little while, it’s refreshing. Everything you own is with you all of the time. Your food, your bed, your books, it’s all ritght there. And despite the glass windows, there’s a lot of privacy. I was craving some privacy after the past month. And I’m in a campervan park, so I sometimes meet neighbors (mostly backpackers, and retired couples travelling the country). There’s a public shower on the boardwalk I use occasionally. Mostly, I’m just really dirty these days. But before I started working, I’d spend my day in the library, I had all day to read and watch films and write, and literally no distractions. If I ever got lonely, or needed to charge my laptop so I could watch more movies, I’d head to Toad Hall and catch up with my friends over there. Before travelling with Jan, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable sleeping in the car. Now, I think I can sleep anywhere. I like curling up in the backseat at night, looking up at the stars while I watch a film. I think if I ever have a car at home, periodically, I’ll have these urges to move into it.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get some wine for a party and on the way there and back, passed eight people I knew. Even though I know nobody in town sees me roaming the streets and thinks, “there’s that lonely homeless girl,” I still have the feeling that they’re there. And I really hoped they saw me bump into all these friends. I like how the South Americans kiss upon greeting. It’s a nice tradition. Even when you don’t know someone that well, you feel like you’re important to them and that they are an integral part of your life. Which I suppose, in a way right now, they are. I think New Zealand would be tangibly lonelier if it weren’t for this casual physical contact with acquaintances.

A little bit on work—apple picking. It’s hard. Carrying the basket of apples into the tree is cumbersome and heavy and awkward. It’s hot out. At least this time, I’m working for a company and getting paid fairly. I should be able to save some money. My plan is to work here for the next 2 months and then head to the North before settling down in Auckland for a couple weeks to sell my car.

And then…home. My trip is just over halfway over, and I know the rest will fly by. But I’ve been a little homesick the past few days. Undoubtedly, it has to do with living in my car, and spending so much time alone, and having my trip to the south end, but I also just suddenly feel the passage of time. It’s not just me, on the other side of the world; I feel the lives of everyone I love going on without me. I’m scared of coming home and finding everything different. Not scared, just knowingly unprepared. You can’t prepare for daily change. I guess enough time has passed that I’m thinking more of coming home—it’s closer in time than when I first got here. So, I’m sad already to be leaving this place behind, even though I’m here, it’s happening right now. I already feel like I’m leaving. I think I said it before, I seem to look back at the present, sometimes even the future, with a sense of assumed nostalgia. Sometimes I think I can see my whole life and I miss, I ache for the things that haven’t happened yet, that may never happen.

These aren’t bad feelings, they’re just…strange. I don’t know how to deal with them yet. I’ll probably never figure it out, which I suppose is okay. In the meantime, I’m still having a wonderful time—we had a goodbye party at Toad Hall last night for Juan, who’s been here for a year and is going back to Chile to play basketball. I met a lot of the new people at Toad Hall, too. That’s part of these strange feelings, too. Seeing all the new people at Toad Hall, which felt like home to me for so long. 2 months. It felt like so long, but really it’s nothing. It’s…reassuringly unsettling (I don’t know how else to explain it) to see how quickly people come and go, drift from place to place, in and out of people’s lives.

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