I’m Looking Forward

…to my week at the Octopus Resort, which I really did choose for its name alone, even though there’s nothing specifically octopus-oriented about it. It’s just a cool name. I mean, if I were going to be a DJ my DJ name would totally be DJ Architeuthis or something, so I can understand the impulse. I have never been to a resort before, even a sort of hippie South Seas backpacker resort, so I am not really sure what to expect. I think, though, that after a month of packing, moving, a trip to New York to see my dad, a road trip to Portland, two going-away parties, another road trip with my mom and sister, saying goodbye for a year to everyone I care about, and a fifteen hour plane flight? In coach? I’ll have earned a week on the beach, octopus or no octopus. I have been thinking of trying to get dive certified while I’m there, but suffice it to say that I am going to sacrifice a lot of weight in my pack for a couple of hefty books to read whilst ensconced in a hammock.

…to living out of one bag, for a while at least. I’ve been pretty trepidatious about that idea, but I feel very strongly that I don’t want to spend my travel time hucking luggage around. Also I think it secretly makes me a little hardcore, which is actually sort of ridiculous, because how hard can it be? I’ll be packing more stuff in my one (very large, it turns out) than most people own in the world, period, so I should mostly feel lucky. Which I do. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am curious to see how my relationship to my stuff evolves during the first month or so there, when I won’t have a fixed address and will be traveling around and visiting towns famed, of course, for their hot springs. I spent most of my time on the elliptical machine at the gym yesterday thinking very seriously about whether I should bring my cool blue shirt with the heart rubik’s cube on it , or just my plain purple v-neck? The plain purple goes with all of my other stuff except my black-and-white skirt, which I love beyond all reasoning and also makes me look hotter than I deserve, with this ass. The blue heart rubik’s cube shirt, though, is just plain cooler looking and we know how important it is to look cool in a foreign land. I only have room for one, though. Very difficult decision. Anyway, I’ll be interested to see whether my stuff becomes more or less important to me when I have to carry it all on my back, and how that will change when I do find a place to live and am able to unpack for a while and can buy more stuff from stores.

…to seeing what kind of work I end up doing for the year. I have not been feeling very sanguine about the whole job thing lately, I am not afraid to tell you. I really want to work professionally while I’m there because frankly I am not in the best time in what passes as my career to just take a year off. When I was at this crazy MS conference a couple of weeks ago I got really fired up, when I wasn’t at the pool, about MS research and wellness models and quality of life issues and complementary/alternative medicine and now I am trying to see if I can actually keep working in that field while I’m over there. I don’t know how it’s going to go, though. I’m pretty nervous about it, actually, although I am trying to spin it the way I did about being nervous for my bellydance performance, by saying that I’m “anticipatory.”

…to figuring out where and how to live. Right now my first choice city is Wellington, just because it seems cool and arty and as though there will be plenty to do by myself without feeling awkward. A close second is Christchurch, which, although I am still not sure whether to pronounce it with a long or a short ‘I’, also sounds pretty interesting and has the advantage of being the hometown to an fabulous tribal bellydance group called Kiwi Iwi (“iwi” is the Maori word for “tribe”).

…to seeing what happens in my dance life, speaking of iwi. Last night was my last class with Nomaditude and we started learning the next choreography that the troupe will be performing at this year’s Med Fest. I felt a little sad at the end of class because even though we only learned a quarter of the dance I can tell that it’s going to be a good one and that it will be a lot of fun to perform. I’m also a little sad to miss out on being able to dance with those women for a year, which makes me all the more anxious to find a good community of dancers while I’m away. I really want to continue with tribal dance but I am trying to be open to doing cabaret…or maybe an entirely different dance…while I’m away. I’ve had mostly very good experiences with bellydancers so I am hoping that getting involved in a dance community will be a good way to make friends, too.

…to seeing what my social life will be like. I make casual connections fairly easily, so I think that traveling around by myself will be pretty good as far as loneliness goes. I mean, I hope it will be. What I’ve been thinking about more is what settling down and finding housemates and people to hang out with will be like. I guess the last time I was just thrown into a completely new social situation was when I went off to college, and even then I’d been writing letters (on actual paper with an actual pen) with my to-be roomie Airy, and remind me one day to tell you the story of how I met her during freshman orientation, fresh off the plane from the East Coast and totally scared and sweaty and running around the campus trying to find my “mentor group” doing its trust fall exercises or whatever, and then I stumbled up to the Grove House and there she was, her long blond hair all aglow, and she stood up and raised her eyebrow the way only she can, and mouthed, in slow motion, “Chi-aaaaaaaa-ra?” And I had someone to sit next to and someone to go to poetry night with (she accompanied my spoken word on her recorder, thank you very much) and someone to leap from single bed to single bed with and crash into the concrete brick walls with. This time, though? This time there will be no Airy, and I admit I wonder if my time in New Zealand will be a time of intense solitude. Sometimes I get really anxious at that prospect and sometimes I feel this great sense of calm, thinking about all that time by myself.

…to gaining some cultural insight, by which I mean, seeing what parts of me are inherently American. It’s hard to understand your cultural context when you’re at home, and I haven’t traveled extensively enough to be able to really understand it from outside. The brief time I spent in London a couple of years ago I felt like I was pretty obviously American, accent aside, just because of my super loud crazy voice (I spent the entire week overcompensating and whispering to my friends on the tube) and my sense of humor. I’ve heard, too, both from Americans who’ve visited New Zealand and some New Zealanders themselves, that I should expect that the pace of life will be much slower there than here. I don’t really know what that will mean, since I live in a city known for its laid back approach to the acceptability of polar fleece as formal wear, if nothing else, and since I live a generally stress-free existence. Is being perennially exhausted and stressed (or even highly ambitious) a really American thing? I mean, I also wonder if I’ll identify more or less with American values, to the extent that I can even codify those, the longer I’m there?

… to writing about it all. I’m feeling a little depressed of late about writing this journal…I can’t believe I even still call it a journal…and about whatever writing ability I have. It really feels like I’m going nowhere with it and I can’t think of a single entry I’ve written this year that I really like and am proud of, and 2006 is half over. I’ve thought about quitting sometimes but I always decide to keep on, even if I’ve lost a lot of readers and even if no one cares, very much, about what I write about, as I have neither written a book nor become a mother. It’s going to be hard to update since I’m not going to have my laptop for a while, and I’m sure this space will look like a travel blog at first, with, like, my packing list, and pictures of sunsets, and “Bula from Fiji!” and “Dear Diary, I went to the top of the Sky Tower, it’s a lot like the Space Needle except they don’t let you bungy jump off the Space Needle,” and “I met the most AWESOME people at the hostel tonight! Lexi and Kim and Trevor were soooooooo sweet! We got sooooooo drunk, haha, right guys? And then we went on a tour of the Waitomo Caves! Drunk! Dudes, they have WORMS in there WITH GLOW-IN-THE-DARK ASSES! Ha hahahahaha haha ha!!!!!” I have a hard time imagining not writing, but who knows, maybe I’ll get out of the habit. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if my writing got better and something good came out of it?

… trying some new things, which I guess is what this whole entry is really about. Seeing what it’s like to be completely unaffiliated with a family or a social group or even a nationality, seeing some cool new stuff, like fiords and beaches where you can dig your own hot tub, hello, perfect for me, and
museums and alpine parrots, and trying this crazy hokey pokey ice cream they are so excited about down there, and maybe working on a farm for a little bit, and defining myself in new ways and forming new relationships with people I don’t even know yet. The part of me that began to formulate the Top Secret Plans, back in the day, and has been waiting and fretting and dreaming about New Zealand since
December, the part that is seeing this through, dammit, is a part of me that hasn’t seen much light, in my day to day life. Most of the time I am conservative, in that I like things the way I like them and I’m fond of routine and comfortable with my boundaries. Not very good at trying new things, frankly. That’s all going to change, soon. Maybe permanently. I can’t wait to see what that’s like.

8 comments

  1. 1) Talk to Ruth about packing for this sort of thing. Seriously. She *knows*. But my advice is to choose the shirt you love best. Wearing clothes you love will make you happy when you are sad, surrounded with love when you are lonely, and brave when you are scared. And they will let people know just what sort of person they are meeting. :)

    2) The Sky Tower is very much like the Space Needle except that THE SPACE NEEDLE DOES NOT HAVE SEE-THROUGH FLOORS! Eeeek!

    Will you be at class on Monday?

  2. This entry gives me chills. I want to respond to your e-mail soon. I’m just so proud of and amazed by you.

  3. Woohoo!!! Looking forward!!

  4. I feel weird every time I leave a comment to you, but I just had to express this is: you are an amazing person and what you’re doing is so brave. Most people wouldn’t follow through and that’s the hardest part. I can’t wait to hear about this adventure.

  5. I hope you don’t decide to stop writing. You are following through with something I have thought of for several years, but I’m a mom, so I can’t. Even if it is just email or short text messages from your mobile to those who are interested, please us let in on your adventure.

  6. Yeah I love reading your perspective about coming here…I’m just gonna answer some stuff you wrote about…

    – rubiks cube!
    – okay, this wasn’t something you wrote about, but I just met a girl from Colorado who’s staying here and is now dating one of my good friends. She is working at a hospital in Auckland and has now applied for another year :)
    – Christchurch as in Jesus Christ. And I would choose Wellington over Christchurch, because it’s so much more artsy etc.
    – I will come meet you at Auckland airport if you want so you’re not so lost! :)
    – when you go up the Sky Tower, the lifts have see through floors. Ugh. I am okay with jumping on the see through floors up the TOP of the tower, but lifts with see through floors are CRAZY.
    – why did you have to mention hokey pokey icecream? I am so craving junk food. gah.

  7. You *so* have to get scuba certified.
    It will never be easier than on vacation, in the (warm, clear, incredibly diverse, cephalopody) central Pacific tropics.
    And, the reward. You know, reef squids and small octopodes and possibly sea cuttles — in person, at home.

    Last time I was under, I spotted a squid egg case AND got to see a momma Giant Pacific, guarding eggs, at 100 ft. And that was here, at Seacrest Park, in the 20ft-vis Seattle spring murk. (Yay, Aquarium dive buddies!)
    Bonus, then you’ll be able to dive in NZ.
    (Fiordlands! Woo-hoo!!!)
    And I’ll be jealous. For years.

    I’ll bring your birthday present to your g’bye party.
    (How many parties behind does that put me?)

  8. Hi there, you don’t know me, but I came across you by accident, and you’re moving to my country! I am from Wellington, and it is AWESOME, so I hope you come and check it out.. and Christchurch is pronounced like the two words: Christ, Church. :)

    Have a ball and feel free to drop by and leave a note if you want to talk more about it (or email!)

    Cheers