Its been approximately 8 months since I took off (literally and metaphorically) from the motherland in search of new sites, sounds and adventures and just the feeling that comes with even typing such a statement is overwhelming. Both Fiji and New Zealand have so far created some cracking memories and stories that will stay with me like my inability to grow ‘stylish’ facial hair or open bean tins with a tin opener (no really!) for a long time to come.
Well, what can I say? It happened, it took a little longer than I thought it would but it has happened; the wonderment, infatuation and overall obsession with all things Queenstown has warn off. I’m not sure whether it was the insanely cold weather, the insanely high price of everything, the insanely rude manner in which (almost) everyone in any service industry conducts themselves or the insanely real sensation that I got from my job to rip my own arm off just so I had something to hit my manager with that did it but, once again, it has happened. Seems I wasn’t alone in such sentiments and as a result a group of us ended up squeezing into a friends car with all of our luggage and driving almost one end of the South Island to the other in the space of two days; we must have looked like clowns squeezing out one of those circus cars when we finally got out. To cut a long story short I’m now in New Plymouth having just left Whanganui in the middle of the North Island, after getting a ferry to Wellington to touch base with some mates and I’ve been enjoying some much needed downtime. Queenstown was a 2 and a half month binge of drink and debauchery that involved showing up to work hungover, showing up to work drunk, not showing up to work at all and, along the way, making some of the most awesome friends I could ever hope to make; miss you guys and much love!
As is often the case with downtime I’ve had some time with my thoughts and have been taking stock of a few things. Before you click the ‘X’ and get the hell off my page and never return I want to make it clear that these thoughts DID NOT involve Brexit or anything to do with it or the people associated. This subject has a strong enough throwing arm to bombard me with steaming, lumpy piles of b*llsh*t even out here in NZ so God-knows how everyone back in Blighty is feeling.
Alas, the most prominent of thoughts that occurred to me today aside from how much I’d like to sleep with Nicole Arbour and how much I’d like to see The All Blacks lose just to see how the Kiwis actually react in the face of such a rare occurrence was nostalgia. Despite being on the other side of the planet and living the sort of lifestyle that could be described as pretty darn ‘in the moment’ the fact is at times I still get nostalgic. I don’t see this as a bad thing. I think nostalgia is something that occurs inside somebody when they’ve been in a lot of different places, met a lot of different people or just done a lot of stuff and I feel fortunate enough to be able to say that I can tick all of those boxes. That’s not to say that every faze of my life has been pleasant and that every memory I have is a doddle to relive but at the end of the day I wouldn’t be who I am without all of them and neither would anyone else without theirs.
What amazed me more, during my three days in Whanganui in particular, is how the smallest and most random things can spark nostalgia like a cigarette to a match. I’m glad to say that Virginia Lake is as beautiful as the guy at the hostel assured me it was as it was a fair old mission to get there. However when I eventually locked eyes on the sparkling water, felt the warm sun on me and heard the ducks chattering away I was almost immediately taken back to my childhood when my Dad or Mum or even occasionally (when they could manage it!) both of them used to take me to Roath Park on weekend afternoons to feed the ducks and get a Mr Whippy. Roath Park, for those caught unaware, is a similar (albeit far less pretty and sunny and with much dirtier water) lake area near my old neighbourhood in Cardiff. Such nostalgia was pleasant and it didn’t stop there. I started to remember the old Volvo 440 that the parents used to use to drive us there, what a banger, our old street, again; what a banger, the layout of our old house (I actually lived in several houses during childhood but this one housed me the longest) our highly multicultural neighbours (Zimbabwe, Poland, China and several others were all representing) and even the walk to and from school from said street. All these memories came flooding back to me; as vivid as if they were yesterday and the catalyst was something as small and trivial as a walk around a lake.
Later that day it happened again when during a walk along the main high street a car came cruising past me. The car contained 4 males, I’m guessing between around 16-20 years of age. The windows were down, the music was blasting, the caps were on display and the smell coming from the vehicle indicated to me that the ciggie in the front passengers hand MIGHT have been more than just a ciggie. Despite the unimportant nature of such an event but perhaps due to my relaxed state this immediately took me back to the age of around 16-18 and my time in college. Me and my best friend used to link at around 11 most mornings after lectures, jump inside his Volkswagen and cruise Albany and City Road in a very similar fashion. Chatting s*it, sporting hoodies, headwear, blasting UK Grime that we’d heard that week on Channel U and occasionally participating in some recreational substance use. We even used to rap as well! At the time I was in a group, we used to hang out outside Benny’s Chicken (Megamix meal for £3.50!) and swipe liquor from off-licences. Truth was; we were about as threatening as Sesame Street but we were the lead cast in our own version of Kidulthood as far as we were concerned. This is quite amusing for me as a drunken female friend in Wellington once declared to me that if I were to be portrayed in a feature-length film that she would have me played by Adam Deacon. I just hope she meant the Adam Deacon we got before 2014, the one since then just scares me.
Nevertheless it amazes me how such vivid and layered memories can be pushed to the front of your thoughts by such a quick and fleeting image. Once again further memories came to me; like how during this time period me and my best friend at the time used to tell our folks we were staying at each other’s houses so we could stay out in the clubs all night and crash at my Dad’s place and drink his whiskey at 6 in the morning. Or how me and some friends used to spend whole days writing lyrics that we swore were the greatest thing since The White Album and then record them at crappy studios in the city and perform them at youth clubs and parties; mixed reactions followed. The clothes we used to wear, the slang we used to use, the neighbourhoods we used to hang around in and the banter we used to have; all bought on by one tiny fleeting image.
Even more alarming and perhaps even kind of saddening is that I don’t really see, speak to or even know the people I took these little adventures with anymore. My best friend at this time is someone I haven’t spoken to since 2010 and even longer with regards to some of the others. I haven’t recorded any music in over 3 years and the streets we used to walk and cruise mostly look different now and even those that don’t are ones that I haven’t been in for a long time.
Still, the fact is that life goes on, with or without the people that at one point you would have called family. People grow up and move on and I haven’t touched base with a lot of these people for a long time not because they’re bad people or because they’ve ‘changed’ but because we’ve moved on.
Like I said/wrote before I truly see misty eyed nostalgia as a mark of someone who has lived a varied, eventful and noteworthy life. My life has had some relatively extreme ups and downs but every era, as it were, has created some cool memories and to pull myself back into the hear and now; I feel like I’m creating more for the future out here and I look forward to relieving them with the same misty eyed adoration in the future.
I’m Tha Bozz and that’s my opinion.