I’ve kept a private journal intermittently, and decided tonight to collate all of its different iterations into one master document. Browsing back through the years, I came upon my thoughts as I wandered Auckland, and reflected on the past and pondered the future. I’m posting a few passages here, a memory of a different time, a younger self, a future before me whose paths I had not yet chosen between. The above is a photograph I took of the Sydney Opera House.
But Auckland has proved surprisingly engaging. There was no difficulty in getting my luggage through (my massive bag weighed in at a measly 22kg and was waived through), and after a quick perusal of hostels as advertised in the airport information center, I called and booked a bed in a dormitory style room of 8. A long bus ride later, and I found myself wandering the streets of the central city by myself, gazing up at the vaunted Sky Needle, painted in aquatic hues by the powerful spotlights that ringed its base. Down to the wharfs, coat collar pulled up, and past a series of popular restaurants to the dark water’s edge. I stood for awhile in the darkness, pulled and tugged by the strong winds, and then turned back and retreated into the city, to a Japanese restaurant called Donkey that had caught my eye.
A wise move. The place was small, privately owned and celebrating its one year anniversary. I picked a table by the wall, and was surprised with a free plate of sashimi as a celebratory gift. I then won a free bottle of Sapporo in the informal lottery they were having, and settled in to enjoy the food and drinks. The place was filled with three or so large families enjoying themselves tremendously, laughing and shouting in Japanese, mothers rising occasionally to chase down errant toddlers who wandered freely about beneath the tables and beyond. The air was convivial, pleasant, and I felt my introspection and light melancholy that had developed while gazing out alone over the reflection of the moon before receding. I ordered an expensive meal in slow stages, drawing out the experience, savoring the free plate of sashimi first, and then nursing a bowl of endamame and miso soup second, followed finally by a large plate of sushi and a second beer. By the time I left, it was near to eleven o’clock.
A brief sojourn in the Sky Tower’s casino complex resulted in the rapid loss of $5 on roulette, ending my dreams of earning back my expenses in the city thus far. I watched some of the tables for a few minutes, wandering the surprisingly large casino floor, before emerging once more into the night and heading back to the hostel where I lay up for a few hours watching episodes of the Office on my headphones, in the dark, high up on my bunk.
Today has been quite enjoyable as well; a morning mocha and sandwich in a coffee shop, where I read about a reporter’s undercover explorations of exclusive US country clubs, followed by an impromptu visit to a church. I went down some steps at the back to see St. Thomas’ chapel, and was shown into the locked chapel by Clay, a fifty something priest who had fled the US when Bush won his second election and made Auckland his home. The chapel was the original interior of an older chapel that had been ensconced within a galleon that had roamed the islands, providing support to lonely missionaries and proselytizing in its own right. The original wood panelling, the altar, all of it had been removed from the original ship and set up in the chapel.
Clay and I spoke for a long time, finding that we had sympathetic political views. He was a very lucid, articulate man, wise and engaging, and I think I ruined his schedule for the day by talking to him for so long. He found me an interesting person, questioning me about my education, life and plans, asking me of my impressions on Australia, long distance relationships and the like. Finally his dog proved too unquiet to be ignored, and he excused himself to take it out while wishing me all the best.
From there I wandered into a narrow park curling up the side of a steep hill, hemmed in on both sides by tall trees and bushes, where I followed a whimsical and curving path up to a playground. After a few moments of sitting on the swing, I ensconced myself in the wide mouth of a fir green tube slide, where I read until I dozed off for a bit in the early afternoon sunshine. Waking not long after, I shouldered my heavy pack once more, and finally made it to Ponsonby where I randomly entered this cafe to drink quite delicious tea and relax, wait out the day before heading back to the hostel to pick up my bags and from there to the airport.
Travelling alone can be enjoyable if you take it slow, if you stick to no fixed plan, if you focus on enjoying yourself with small comforts and don’t worry about what you’re doing. Wandering from coffee shop to park, from church to wharf, taking my time and stopping to read or rest or nap or simply watch has proven quite entertaining. The danger of slipping into introspection always hovers around the edges, and might prove overwhelming in time, but for a couple of days is hardly of any concern.
A cat has just wandered into the cafe, and is walking with uncharacteristically heavy tread through the chair and table legs towards me. He’s stopped by my backpack, arrested no doubt by the cloying scents of rotting food that have suffused it since my Whitsunday trip. He walked with that deliberate, considered tread of a large lion, but is gone now.
I’ve left Australia. I’ve left Australia, and probably won’t be back for ages and ages. How did I feel upon leaving New York? Let me check. Ah yes. Different, propelled out by the breakup with Min. Ready for change, excited. How do I feel now? A little worn out, a little wiser, but more sure of myself. I wonder how I’ll feel when leaving Miami for Argentina, when leaving Buenos Aires for…?