The First Really Warm Day

Two of my three interviews in the last two days have been held at cafés—that’s Wellington for you–and as I walked down Cuba Street after my last one this morning the sun decided to come out. Interview wear for this would-be social worker usually means Nice Shirt And Not-Jeans, and all of a sudden I was too hot. It was around lunch time and everyone decided to leave their offices and sit out on the waterfront for lunch, kebabs and salads and sandwiches in hands, taking their shoes off, and, because this is New Zealand, keeping their shoes off when it was time to go back to work. I had lunch waiting for me at home but I sat out by the harbor for a while, behind Te Papa, and took my shoes off too. I put the Phoenix Foundation song I can’t stop listening to on repeat and closed my eyes and let the sun shine right on me, right onto my face.

Three interviews in two days, and everyone loves me and my CV and my “energy,” which I think means I talk too much. Yesterday I went in for a chat at one of the clinics I worked with last year (“I’ve always thought you were pretty groovy,” said one of the people there) and they said I could have the job…it’s only twenty hours a week and it’s only for six months, but it would keep you here for a while longer and something else would be sure to come up and we’ve always liked you, Chiara, and we’d love the chance to have you come on board. I went right home and called immigration again and the woman on the other side said actually, you need thirty hours a week for a sponsored visa. Hmm, said the clinic when I emailed them this frustrating news. We’ll have to have a think about that. Can we get in touch with you Monday?

This morning, too, it was all about how this sounds like a good fit for your interests and abilities and you have a lot of experience in this area and it’s quite rare for a foreigner to have worked in the communities you’ve worked in, and I’m sure you’d make a great contribution. It would only be twenty hours a week to start off with, though, is that a problem? We stopped, the woman who has been interviewing me in this café and I, at a store on Cuba Street, and looked at silk dresses together. We’re all going to be in touch with each other, she said. We’re all going to have more meetings and more negotiations. Next week, probably. It will be my last week. I have one more week.

“We could be unemployed together,” the song suggests in my ear on the waterfront, the sun out, the shoes off. I lean back against the stone wall and think about where I was last year this time, what I was doing. I didn’t know what was going to happen in my life back then either, but compared to the not knowing what’s going to happen in my life now, right now, it seems so much simpler and straightforward. Of course, that may be because I know how that all worked out, last year. What year will it be, the year I know how it’s all going to pan out? What year will it be when I am not wondering and worrying?

Through the skate park, on the bus, in the door, check the email, eat the lunch, change into the capris, and out the door and down the road to the beach. I have to put my sunnies on and it turns out I am not the only one in my neighborhood who has realized that it’s the first really warm day and that we all live near the beach and that we should take advantage of this before the wind comes back and blows us all back home. The high school students in their shapeless undone uniforms sit on the concrete spit and lean and lounge against each other, the young parents wheel their young babies out onto the sand, the blokey blond guys in ironic t-shirts set up their fishing rods. I flip-flop over to the sharp rocks and the deep pools and sit down to look at the algae and the anemones, the tiny fish and the snails in the softly rushing water, and the sun continues to shine and shine and shine.

I have a rule, when I go to the beach, that I don’t listen to music when I can hear the waves on the rocks, but I have the hear Blue Summer again. “I’m careless but I’m blind,” rasps the singer, and I look out to the island of Island Bay. We’re having a spring this year and everyone’s front garden flowers are all of a sudden blooming this week; the other day at the Botanical Gardens the tuis were going insane singing and gathering nest materials and the duck pond ducks wouldn’t leave each other alone. I’ve been invited to spend New Year’s up north with Blair and Cherie. Kirsten Hersh and The Gossip are going to be playing at San Francisco Bath House in the next couple of weeks. I’ve just got caught up on Outrageous Fortune. The days are getting longer and I live twenty minutes from the beach, the rocks and the waves and the tiny darting fish in the lavishly pink-fringed pools. I have to hear this song again. I have to keep sitting here by this water. I have to keep feeling this sun on my face.

Whoever Owns That Vespa Is Awesome

Across The Harbour From The CBD

Lunchtime On The Waterfront

Turning An Enemy Into A Friend

Stay Strong

Beach At Island Bay

Rocks And Water

Rockpool Contemplation


  1. This makes me sad. I have had so many bad things happen in my own life in the last three weeks, and I wish no more bad things would happen to anyone. I know what it is to have hope, and have that hope dwindle by the moment until there is none, and for some reason – though entirely different – your circumstances resonate with me. It would be nice to have some good news. I hope you get some good news Chiara…

  2. How about two 20-hour a week jobs? Will that fly? Good luck, girl!

  3. What Steph said – I thought that immidiately, if both parties are OK then you’ll have 40 hrs and you’ll be able to stay 10 mins from the beach!!! BTW, is it still as windy there as it was when we went there on my 1st day in Welly???

  4. Ha, yeah, WOULD THAT IT WERE SO EASY. If I get one job that will give me thirty hours a week, then I can do whatever else the hell I want, job-wise…but the one that sponsors me has to give me thirty. Not twenty, THIRTY. We’re going to work on it, apparently, next week. My last week here, if that working on it doesn’t…work.

    I am going insane right now, did I mention that?

  5. first really chilly day in seatle: well, chilly -morning- as it’s not even 8 and already I’m at work even though i left work at 11 last night… i was daydreaming yesterday about working -only- 40 hours per week but the big order is in and holiday rush will be right on its tail so my days off this fall are numbered… and few. but reading this i am reminded how happy i am to be in the position to wish i could work a little less… or at least how happy i am to finally be able to save for something fantastic like visiting you (i hope i hope). holding my thumbs for you, missy. xoxo.

  6. You like The Gossip? I love The Gossip! They’re absolutely amazing live, especially back in the day when they’d play in these tiny rooms crammed full of dancing people.

    We’ll have to go someday when they’re playing their home crowd (Olympia).

  7. aww, honey. fingers and toes crossed, and sending all of the good thoughts i can muster.

  8. The year in which everything is going to roll out with certitude has not arrived for any of us, and if it ever does for me, life will be very pedestrian indeed. Live the questions and all that Rielke hoo-hah, Chiara. And keep the music off while the waves rush over you.

    The pink vespa picture is perfection.

  9. I’m thinking thirty hours a week thoughts for you. I’m thinking especially hard because if you have to come back to the northern hemisphere you’ll have to endure two winters in a row and that’s NOT RIGHT.

  10. Good luck, kiddo. I hope they come through for you! You know we’ll all be waiting here, virtually and physically on the other side of this vast water, to hear your news.

  11. I sure do hope you get to stay, to keep doing what you’re doing, loving what you love. (If you do have to come home, I know that will work out, too – I’m sure you know that, but I am moved to confirm it. But I hope you don’t have to, lots of hope.)

  12. I was thinking about you the other day when I was walking to the bus. We’re starting to have the first really clear and chilly days here, so I was thinking “oh, I bet it’s starting to be summer down on the other side of the world” and feeling just a touch envious, even though autumn is my favorite season.

    I hope – so much – that one of your jobs can give you ten more hours so that you can stay through the summer! Fingers are still crossed. Hang in there, girl.

  13. Girl,
    I don’t know if it’s just the for the people I know, but it seems that New Zealand is all about living in the moment.

    So love your moments.

  14. I get. I know you got the job, so yay! But I applied for that 3 month working holiday in the USA, and paid the program fee, and my teacher said the only way she’ll let me do Masters next year is if I don’t go, and I stay and do extra lessons during the break. Even then I won’t be guaranteed. I don’t know what to do…