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.