This past week was awful for a couple of reasons, really. You have your Virginia Tech shootings coming not one month after those at my alma mater in Seattle, and then you have the crazy no-exceptions-for-the-health-of-the-mother abortion ban. I told A., who is this very hardcore badass lawyer, about that this morning when we were having a very cute weekend debriefing session in our pajamas (“So where did you go last night?” “Girl, where didn’t we go.”), and she said “But…but…can they do that in America?” She is not the only incredulous Kiwi friend I have, not the only one who can’t believe we do some of the things we do in my country. I never know what to say; mass shootings and infringements on body autonomy are bad enough on their own, but it’s just another layer of unhappiness to have to try to explain why they happen to everyone here.
And then I got the news that my friends Calin and Ian won’t be coming to live in Wellington as we’d thought they would until, literally, this week, which is when we’d expected they’d be here. I knew there was a slim chance that the visas wouldn’t come through, but I was still expecting that I’d be seeing them this weekend and showing them around town and getting them settled and everything. Calin especially is very dear to me in ways I would have thought impossible five years ago, and she and I were just getting to know and like each other when I left Seattle, so it was just really disappointing. She and her husband are going to have a fabulous Northern Hemisphere summer in Europe and I have this weird belief that she and I will one day have hot chocolate at Fidel’s together anyway, visas be damned, but still, it sucks.
And then yesterday there was some awful news from a friend in Seattle whom I also was just getting to know through bellydance right before I left, and I feel so far away from her and powerless to help. She and her kids are in a lot of pain and my heart is just broken on their behalf and I don’t know what to do except be thankful that she’s being taken care of by her friends and family and neighbors and wish I could be with her right now.
So all of that has been contributing to my dank and musty mood lately, and that’s not even considering my own questions about getting a visa to stay here, or the ones I often have in the middle of the night that have to do with my dying alone and unloved without even a cat to feast on my corpse in an impoverished spinster’s hovel that I probably will never own outright. Or the sudden restlessness that has whooshed in on me from nowhere, or the social backlash from having had six straight weeks of houseguests, or the general malaise I often feel when it starts to get darker and colder and rainier. By the time Friday night rolled around and my lovely friend Lydia came over to pick up her car and go into town for coffee, I was just in the worst mood and was totally not feeling it.
We talked for a while about how we hated everything and how everything was stupid and ridiculous and meaningless and how no one loved us and we wanted to just get in bed with our heads under the covers. Going to coffee was fine but we couldn’t find a place to park for about four hundred years and there was some slightly weird social stuff going on and we got a caramel slice to share but it was just too sweet and everyone wanted to go drinking but I was all “Fuck that noise” and hmmphed off to the bus, which was late, of course, and listened to mopey music all the way home and was in bed by ten-thirty, staring up at the ceiling and feeling awful and wondering why everything just…sucks so much.
It was sunny Saturday morning, though, and after sleeping in until the unheard-of hour of nine o’clock, I pulled myself together a little, giving myself a bit of stern talking-to while I was in the shower. I made a yummy breakfast and emailed various people to tell them I love them and put on my octopus necklace and went into town. I spent an hour reading magazines in a window seat and ran into a friend of a friend on Lambton Quay, who suggested we have lunch at the outdoor garden at Te Papa and talked to me at length about ducks. I spent another couple of hours at Fidel’s drinking hot chocolate and writing in my paper journal, and then ran into about four other people I knew on my way to the crazy Paramount with its tiny little theaters and people drinking coffee and eating ice cream cones and the awesome make-out-friendly velvet two-person loveseats. I saw the equally crazy The Fountain, which is about conquistadors and a cure for cancer and magical trees and also possibly the Buddha and which is also the first movie in my entire life that innocent substance-free me has ever thought, “This would be a lot better if I were high right now.”
I was getting ready to come home and cook lentils for dinner when I got a text from the aforementioned Lydia telling me that there was a little party at the aformentioned Duncan the bird studier’s house, and so I leapt up from the bus stop and headed over there, where there was many different kinds of delicious dumplings and new friendly people and bonhomous camaraderie in three different languages. We headed over to Lydia’s backpackers for a while, about which I was a little leery at first, but which ended up being lots of fun and reminded me of the nice things about living in a hostel: lots of silly people talking about all sorts of ridiculous things and a generally very lively atmosphere. Someone gave me a huge ego boost by asking me if I was taking a gap year now that I was finished with uni, and at one point I found myself discussing with two young Scottish boys what we’d do if Johnny Depp suddenly walked into our houses and demanded to make out with us; we all agreed that we’d go for it if we had the chance, which is what you’d expect, but to hear a twenty-one-year old boy say in that fantastic accent “Oh, sure, I’d kiss him if he wanted me to…” My eyes got a little glazed over at that point and mmmph, girl is all I have to say.
Today I did a lot of bellydance, which is always a good idea if you’re feeling low: first I went to jam informally with a new tribal troupe in town and then to a hafla at Traysi’s new studio on Cuba Street. I got very jealous of all the performers’ costumes and thought longingly of hip scarves and slash loons, but I got to zagahreet for the first time in nine months and then there was open dance and I totally worked up a sweat shaking my belly. Traysi asked me to think about performing next time and I hugged everyone and got a ride home from someone who lives in Island Bay so I didn’t even have to wait for the bus. One friend just had her opera debut at the Met, and another is expecting a baby. Wednesday is ANZAC Day and I have the day off and am going to try to learn to make the appropriate biscuits. I think it’s going to be a good week. I hope it will be.
Nothing, though, has really changed: the world is still the way it was on Friday, with its horror and grief and disappointments and worries and fears. The bad things in my life are still bad but I am glad that I was able to see that the good things are still good, too. Like all my insights, it’s a small one: an obvious one that everyone else but me seems to know already. It takes up a lot of room in my heart and mind anyway, helps me open my eyes a little wider.