Sunday, March 21, 2010

Here To Make A Difference

I’ve always wanted an important job. I want my work to have meaning. Really, I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something that changed the world. Luckily, I found work in a frozen food facility where I spend my days ripping open small bags of frozen peas and corn, and dumping the contents into large bins of frozen peas and corn. I won’t say that people thank me every day for the work that I’m doing, but when I pass a little kids playing in the park, or a puppy rolling in the grass, I see that it’s not about the praise or about the money. It’s about making a difference.
I drive to work with Jan, who is back in my life on a daily basis again. I also gave his friend Andy a ride, but as we were driving to the factory on our second day of work, Andy, who’d been moaning about working since he got into the car, hopped out a red light saying “Tell them I’m sorry—I quit.” He then went back to the hostel and bought a ticket to Thailand. He left this morning.
Jan and I made some friends at the factory, a lesbian couple from New Orleans. They got married over here, where it’s legal. It’s funny though, maybe gay people have more rights over here, but I’ve been here for almost six months now and the only gay people I’ve met have been from the U.S. I think the country is more liberal politically, but the parts of the U.S. that I’m most familiar with seem much more tolerant and accepting. I’ve often heard people in NZ say that NZ is about thirty years behind the rest of the world, and I see that, more than in any other way, in the general homophobia here. It’s not a malevolent homophobia, it’s an ignorant homophobia. I think Danielle and Holly have a much different perspective though. They think NZ is really liberal, and I wonder if my coming from the North and their coming from the South can still really make that much of a difference. I think it does.
On Friday night, we finished work early. Actually, Jan wanted to stay so our supervisor found him something to do for a couple hours, and while I waited for him, I went to get drinks with Danielle and Holly. For the past several months, I’ve wanted three categories of new friends: 1. Native English speaker friends, or at least not a group of friends that all speaks the same language except for me. 2. Friends who are girls. Almost all of my friends here have been guys, mainly because of the work I’ve done. I know it doesn’t really matter, people are people, but no, I’ve really missed interactions and conversations with women. It’s different. It just is. 3. Gay friends. At times I’ve wondered if there were any other gay people in the entire country. That’s kind of a lonely thought. When I first got here, I was shocked at how many gay people there seemed to be—everyone says partner instead of boyfriend or girlfriend. I just thought everyone I met was gay. What a disappointment that turned out to be.
We went to a bar and were the only people for a while, until scores of men showed up and talked to us. In the past, I would’ve just thought they wanted to talk. But, after traveling for a month with a heterosexual male, I’ve learned the truth. Men approach women for conversations in the hopes that it will lead to sex. This is always the case. Even if they legitimately enjoy the conversations.
Anyway, I totally hit the jackpot with Danielle and Holly. Jan joined us at a different bar when he left work. I had left him my car keys and texted him directions, but mistakenly told him to turn left instead of right when he left the parking lot. He didn’t realize Holly and Danielle were a couple until a little bit into a conversation and then he became convinced that I gave him wrong directions on purpose so that I could secure them as my friends (he knew about my friend wishes). I’m pretty sure I didn’t do it on purpose.
Yesterday, Jan and I went to the place where they’ve been living. They have a tent in the yard of a couple who organize music festivals and workshops. Thelma is an herbalist by trade, and Mikey a musician. It was a very hippie day, complete with jamming and pot-cookies and campfire singing. Different friends and neighbors stopped by for beers and music. Holly, Jan and I went to check on some horses grazing. Different people had caravans or tents strewn about. It was that kind of place. Everyone welcome for a night or two or several months. Next week they have an African drummer giving a workshop and then a concert in a nearby café. Jan and I will probably go for the concert. The only problem is they live so far away—about 45 minutes drive.
In other news, I had a boyfriend for a little while. Every once in a while, I think, hmm…maybe I have a crush on a guy. Weird. And then I date him and it turns out that I didn’t have a crush on him. This has happened several times. My problem is that men are really easy to meet and women aren’t. It’s almost easier to date men than it is not to date them. Adrian is from Argentina and I’d met him a few weeks ago when they arrived and set off their Argentines in Distress signals (they must exist because every Argentine seems to meet upon arrival, every other Argentine), and he invited me to a party at his house a few weeks ago. I had recently become an independent person and thought that maybe I had a crush on him. We danced and flirted (I don’t really know how to flirt actually, but I guess we were doing that). I went to another party last weekend, still thinking I had a crush on him. I’m not going into details on something my parents or grandparents might read, but I was wrong. I had pretty much just resigned myself to having a boyfriend until I left the country, because I didn’t know how to get out of it, but luckily, he ended up moving to Tauranga for kiwi picking, so it is now a non-issue.
This morning, Monday, work got cancelled until Wednesday. I’m moving back into my car in the morning, because I’m a bit worried that this is consistently going to be the case. A day or two of work, and then nothing. So I am moving into the car and if work doesn’t pick up I’m free to leave. Also, the family I live with is really nice, but living with little kids is kind of cramping my style. Desiree must think Cecilia and I are alcoholics because when she went to change our sheets we had 2 months worth of beer bottles and wine bottles hidden around the room because we didn’t want to throw them out in the kitchen. Bottom line is if I wanted babies, I’d have them myself. And they cry a lot and give you pink eye and the flu, so I don’t want them. It also is kind of weird with my work schedule—I sleep until 11 am, go to work at 2 and get back around 10:30 at night, when everyone is asleep. I want to make dinner and watch a movie or something but don’t want to make too much noise. And there are showers at work, and I can use the library in the mornings for electronics. At work, we can drink free tea and coffee, which was the main reason I wanted to live in a house anyway.

P.S. This picture also has nothing to do with this post, but reminds me of Cold Mountain, and I spent a good chunk of my day looking for good American writers. I settled on Joan Didion, but I've still got the mountains on my mind...

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