It’s four years exactly today since I first came to Wellington, coming from Napier on the Intercity Bus, waiting to meet Deirdre at the station with my big green backpack. That was so long ago. For my one-year anniversary in 2007 I was in Australia, not even paying attention, and for my two year I was in
Miami, working on my residency application and feeling nostalgic and pretty rose-coloured-glassy, admittedly. Last year I was either sleeping in or eating lentil soup and I don’t remember what I was thinking, about anything.
I’ve thought about it a little this time around. I tell the story of how I had someone to pick me up at the station (Deirdre just texted me today concerning my trepidation regarding my introduction to Kiwi fush-n-chups that night) all the time, usually concentrating on the wonders of the internet, and how lucky I was to have someone to meet me. I still think I was lucky, four years later, in a lot of ways, in most ways. I was lucky in a way I didn’t recognize at the time because there was no context for it.
If you read that post from the day after I arrived here (I still can’t believe I paid twelve dollars to go see that Lord Of The Rings exhibit) it sounds like I was a little scared. Unsure. I was, I guess—I’d been doing a lot of preliminary stuff like going to Portland and going to California and going to Fiji and going to Auckland, and still felt very much on holiday, but I knew that time was over as soon as I got here. At the time I know I was worried about getting a job, getting friends, getting a flat and just getting…New Zealand, you know, just understanding how to live here. I was probably worried; just from reading that post I can remember really clearly how unreal everything still felt.
What that post doesn’t really get (because I didn’t understand it at the time) was this weird sense of…I don’t know what to call it, four years later. Not confidence, exactly—just this very heady feeling that everything was going my way, like my life had really started, as if the first thirty-one years had been preliminary, the opening chapters of my life story, and now I was getting to the good stuff. The plot was thickening in quite a nice direction. When I think of it now it seems like I had this very odd sense of peace: of course I would get a good job, because that’s how the story was going. Of course I would find friends and a flat and a dance class and a boyfriend (for a little while! Does anyone else remember that?), of course I would love Wellington and Wellington would love me. That’s how the story was going. Everything is going to be all right, everything is going to be all right.
Did I think that’s how it would always go? Did I think that once I got on the plane, once I got on the bus and the train and to Wellington, that the story would just…keep going?
I guess it has kept going. Of course it has, of course it does: I go to work and go to yoga and go to the store and go out for coffee. I see my friends, I read my books, I walk along the windy rainy streets. I’m planning a trip to Tonga in October, I’m calling my cousin this weekend for his wedding. I think about other places I might like to go, other things I might like to do, but here’s where I am, right in the middle.
Of course, you can’t tell when you’re in the middle of your story because you don’t know when the end will be. This time next year, five years after that first touchdown in Wellington, that first walk along Cuba Street and that first four-dollar hot chocolate (with marshmallows, one pink and one white); who knows where I or any of us will be in the stories of our life by the time my next anniversary comes along.