20.07.2010 - 28.07.2010
The next evening Joe and I headed out to the Airport, and it wasn't dark yet, but we were flying into the night. (New Zealand was 2 hours ahead of us here in Sydney.) Joe was staying with a boy called Jason, and I was staying with the warrior woman Anna. When we arrived in Auckland Joe needed my computer because he had yet to nail down directions to Jason's place. I had bus directions followed by a short walk for Anna's place. Goodbye Sydney and your flying foxes!
Sydney Airport art:
I was a little looking forward to just moving on in New Zealand, and it was dark when we landed. Joe hopped on my computer, and I admit, I was a bit impatient. We waited for what it seemed like forever for him to try email Jason and then try calling him on a payphone, but to no avail. It was around 9pm now, and I wanted to get the hell out of the airport and find Anna's place before midnight. I gave her a call. "Hi Anna, this is Blair" (My newest attempt at renaming myself. I no longer felt like Rain.) "I was just wondering, Joe doesn't have directions to his couchsurfer's place, so can he stay with you tonight?" "I'm okay with it as long as you are okay with it... are you okay with it?" "Yeah, I'm used to it." She had already accepted Joe to stay with her next week, and she didn't mind him moving the time. I also had plans to stay with Jason next week. I guess Auckland is a small city after all.
That night I was really sick, so it was nice having Joe around to help carry things. We got on the airport bus, then got off after a half hour or so at K' Rd. and Queen. I guess K' Rd is actually what they call it, since not even the Aucklanders really pronounce Karangahape Road right. Then we could pick up a bus, or walk about 20 minutes to her place. Yeah, I'd heard that one before. I wanted to pick up the bus. Joe wanted to walk. So, we walked. I couldn't believe my eyes! There were all of these strip clubs, and gay bars, and nude private show rooms, and sex shops! To top it off, I think we passed a transvestite prostitute on a street corner! Where the hell were we! I thought NZ was going to be all cute and full of Hobbits! After crossing a street that looked a bit more upscale to the one we were on, things became all boonies like with all sorts of car dealerships. We even passed a BMW, Lexus, Audi, and all sorts of other high end cars that looked like something out of a James Bond movie, but it only had a fence about waist high, no barbed wire, no chain linked fence, just a cute little black one you might have at a cafe or something.
We almost passed her street, but we had to cross the road because of construction, and then saw her street sign. Her street literally plummeted into the dark! I had a hard time trying not to just running down her street the slope was so strong. Then we came to a house with a deer shape white tinted against a glass window in a door. "I think that’s it." I said to Joe as we pondered the meaning of the "1/28" in her address. "The mailbox says 28..." Well, I guess 1 means the first floor? We knocked. "Doors open!" a jovial voice called out to us. We pushed it in, and there was a long corridor with a bright light down the hall. "Come in, come in!" We peered into what must have been the living room. Anna was sitting there with a group of friends sitting in a circle around a bunch of Indian food. "You just missed Acrobatics!" They told us. I guess it was a ritual for them to go to the Bollywood Indian restaurant after Acrobatics for $10 take out, then eat it back at Anna's. One boy Derek managed a back flip while attached to some ropes, I wasn't quite sure the set up, but again, I was sick and very tired. There was also a girl from France named Mathilde who was once Anna's couchsurfer, but then decided to move to Auckland and became absorbed in Anna's role playing, sword fighting, belly dancing, circus group! She was dating this boy called Ben, and there was also a girl called Louise. They said that we could sleep in the little storage room, or that they would be clearing out of the living room soon and we could sleep on some pillows in there. We didn't want to intrude, and privacy always sounds nice, so Joe and I took bunk up in the storage room.
There was a ton of stuff in it, but there was also a small one person mattress on the ground. Just one of those fold up camping ones, but Joe and I could have managed. "I can sleep on some pillows," I let him know, and so I stole some out of the lounge, and made a bed in the space next to the mattress. Joe ended up deciding to switch places with me as the mattress was smaller than the large pillows, and in the jumbling of moving bodies as I was dying with this stuffed, running, itchy nose, he held me. Then, as prompted by last nights cuddling, we kissed, for the first time since Japan. My symptoms were paused. Then, after the kiss, someone pressed play and my illness acted up all over again. The reprieve was enough incentive, so we kissed again. I could breath, my headache was gone, this refocusing put me in such a better place, that I actually didn't want to stop. I knew the deal, Joe was leaving for Canada, we were finished, and there was no hope for us, at least not in the near future. Maybe 5, 10 years down the line, but that was it. I didn't want a new relationship either, so maybe this was the last opportunity I had to have sex in a really long time. "Do you want to?" I answered with an inside joke, "Please don't stop.” (From a night I was so drunk that Jenna and Joe had to take my jacket off for me, and in the mist of all the moving around I said, “No... Please... Don’t.... Stop!” letting them know I was perfectly happy sleeping in my coat. I have never lived down how the pauses I thought I was putting between the words just really didn’t happen in my slurring.) So, back to the point, we didn't stop, for the first time since Japan. Afterwards, I went to sleep in a peaceful bliss. No harsh whooping coughs, no runny nose, no unbelievably blocked nasal passages, and the itching in the back of my throat was finally soothed.
We ended up having to fix my sickness 3 times that night, and in the heat of it all I lost my beautiful nose ring I had only been able to wear since Australia (not a Japanese or Chinese thing). It was an actual hoop ring I got in Hawaii that I loved because of its unique design, and that is also what led to it getting twisted out. (Guess that’s better than the alternative) The dance was actually some of the best dancing we had done in, well, what could possibly have been years, if even ever! Joe thought so as well. He asked me about it, and my answer was I was dancing for myself for the first time in a very long while, just for me, not for anyone else, not for my partner, not for anyone but me. This made it better for both of us, who knew? All this time I have been sacrificing this amazing dancing for mediocre dancing in detriment to the both of us. If I had only been dancing for myself all these years, it would have been better for him too. Oh well, I guess there is something to say for a man who can pull enjoyment out of the pleasure given to another.
Joe decided he would stay with Anna for the next few days, and then go to Jason's, and I would meet him there after I stayed with the girl and the large dark framed glasses. So for now, here was the plan: day schedule: Shop on Trade Me (NZ fusion of Craigslist and Ebay) for a flat, print out CV's (what they call resume's here) and hand them out, all while seeing the city. Anna told me the nice street we passed before we made it to the car dealerships was a good place for a lot of cafe's, so I figured I would start there. Joe was really uninterested in starting this process up straight away, so Anna gave him directions to a local park where he went and did Kung Fu while I worked on the internet all day looking for flats.
Wednesday night is Bellydance class for Anna, and Couchsurfing drinks. Unfortunately, her class is during drinks, so she dropped us off at drinks early, and then told us that we could meet her and some of her classmates at the Gelato shop down the Warf from the drinks after her class. So we stayed at drinks, met a bunch of Auckland's couchsurfing community, and we were offered some nights on a guys boat! Joe is thinking about teaching Kung Fu as payment for a longer passage on their boat, but I told them that I'm not so good with boats. We left drinks around 9 to meet Anna at ice cream, and then from there she showed us how to catch a bus back to her place.
The next evening Anna told us where I could meet Louise and Ben for medieval sword fighting training. They train with real metal weapons and shields, and Joe was of course very excited. Anna and more of her group used to be involved with this group, but there was a bad break up involved, so sides were something of an issue. Ben and Louise I guess are part of the few that didn't choose sides.
To get to Auckland University where they held sword fighing outside the biology building in the greens we walked through Albert Park in the center of Auckland:
Looking back on the city:
Now, looking away from the way we came, and towards Auckland university:
Yeah, that clock tower is their student center. Really cool. It looks like something out of Rivendale.
When we got there we were handed large, heavy metal swords, and then lined up against 2 experienced fighters, and we ran through stances, and some drills. We were really excited to join in what they call “line battles,” where one line of 4 or 5 faces another, and the two teams spar in real chain mail and armor (Ben makes his own)! But they told us that we were a bit too unpredictable at this point, so we had to have another week or 2 of one on one training before we were allowed to spar. That seemed really reasonable considering I spent over 5 years at Green Dragon and we were never supposed to open spar each other (which of course we did, and I always ended up the one getting hurt).
Friday evening Anna’s friend was in a play, so Joe and I were invited to come and watch a Robin Hood Men in Tights esque show. (Prima was cast as little Billy in the show because it was a community theater comedy show, so they cast the best actors, not necessarily for the proper gender). But before we left, one of Vanya’s best friends came to pick Vanya up for a thing they were going to. His name was Patrick, and he was very weird. He has this really deep Walter Cronckite voice, but with an English accent. I asked if he was British, but apparently he was Kiwi, and was a little put off by lighthearted question. I pushed even further by asking if he was a hit man. He was dressed in a long black leather trench coat, leather gloves, black dress pants, shiny black boots that looked like high end military issue, a white collared shirt, and a red vest with a red tie. He laughed an extremely good laugh, and informed me that no, he wasn’t a hit man. Vanya came up to me dressed in a Untouchables ~esque outfit and explained to me that they were going to a LARP event. “A who-se-what-y?” L-ive A-ction R-ole P-lay. “Like a reenactment?” “No, not at all” He explained it like adlib theater, except without the audience. “So, its like when I used to play dress up when I was a kid, but more organized?” “Yeah, that’s pretty much it.” Well, at least they were honest about it. Quite frankly, I didn’t get how all the rules worked, and there was some sort of Dungeons and Dragons ~esque dice/ card thing involved as well, I don’t really know, but hey, I’ll try anything out once. They invited me to this huge convention in a few weeks, and I told them that if I wasn’t working, I’d be happy to try it out.
The next evening Vanya was having his 23rd birthday party, so when I got back on Saturday evening there were all sorts of strange people arriving. Their small flat filled up really quickly and I feel as though I was kinda thrown into the deep end of Vanya’s crazy friends as Joe was already at Jason’s place. All the men had their shirts off by halfway though the party, and most of them were either wrestling each other, or yes, kissing. Most of the girls seemed to bait this more than anything else, and I think I may have also been partially to blame. “No you would not!” “No really, we do this kind of stuff all the time.” “I don’t believe it.” And to that Vanya grabbed this really tall kid and kissed him straight up on the lips! Now Vanya is really very straight from what I could tell, but this party was not for the homophobe of heart.
The next week I stayed at the girl with the thick glasses place, and she made the best mac and cheese bake I have ever had! And she used mustard! I scrunched my nose at it by accident, and she told me not to worry, and that I would love it. (She was absolutely right.) It was a bit of a fiasco getting ot her place though. I got off the train late at night (as they both were working late that evening), and I was in the middle of nowhere. They told me to just get off the train, and they would be there to pick me up. Well, there were 4 really long ramps leading down 2 stories out of the station to 4 corners. I didn’t know which to take. I guessed wrong and ended up in an industrial park that was void of any pay phones or open businesses. Eventually I managed to find a security guard who was sweeping a building, and he let me use his cell phone. When Wesley picked me up, he told me that the other side has payphones and a late night Dairy (what they call convenient stores).
After a few days at their place I met up with Joe at Jason’s, and he was something else. Joe and Jason had obviously already had time to bond, so when I got there it was very easy to just slide right into the book discussions and talking about Burring Man. Apparently Jason had been there previous years, and he was going again for this years. He said New Zealand had one called Kiwi Burn, but as with all things New Zealand, it just wasn’t the same magnitude or forethought. Under different circumstances, I think I may have developed a bit of a crush on Jason. He was a free spirit who had his own business selling books that he collects around the world. Books here in New Zealand are about 4 times as expensive on average as they are in the states because they import all their books. So Jason makes a killing selling all sorts of novels that we take for granted. He was shocked when I told him that I had a copy of Fountainhead but I hadn’t read it yet because it was just kinda long and didn’t capture me like Anthem. “You have a book that you own, but you don’t want to read it?” “I got it for like a quarter at a garage sale.” “Like a quarter of a hundred, or a quarter American coin?” “The coin.” He almost had a conniption fit. Apparently, $25 for a used book was a good price in New Zealand. Less than $10 was unheard of.
After Jason’s place I was back at Anna’s for just a few more days while I settled which place I was moving into. I decided I liked her part of town, so I would find a place close by. My first appointment was at a house just 5 minutes walk.
When I got there, Prima answered the door. “Its you!” I told her! “Its me?” She didn’t remember me. “Don’t you remember? I saw you in a play for like 2 hours, and you met me for like 2 seconds afterwards, I’m Anna’s couchsurfer.” She smiled and explained to me that she didn’t really remember, but she was happy to see me anyways. The room for rent was the first one on the left. She opened the door to this huge room with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. There was a bed, a dresser, and a desk with a shelf already in the room. All the floors were hard wood, and my window was a cute little double door with glass windows. “My sister left her oriental paper umbrella and the silks she got in Thailand up there” she pointed to the extremely tall walls of the room “because they were too high for her to take down, but we can bring in a latter to get them down for you if you don’t want them.” I gave her a huge smile, “No, I think they are great! Can I have the room?” I was so happy to meet a person I already know, and to live with a friend of a friend, in this beautiful bedroom, all by myself! “Don’t you want to see the rest of the house?” I pointed showed her I was curbing my enthusiasm, and I gave a fake cough and said “Yes, of course, let me think about it while we look at the rest of hte place.” She smiled, she had a good sense of humor.
Down the stairs, dining room to the right:
Kitchen to the left:
Living room next to the kitchen with 3 bedrooms up the small stairs behind it:
windows to the backyard -> dining room -> stairs back upstairs (picture taken in the kitchen):
The stairs that lead back up to the 4 upstairs bedrooms:
To the left of the stairs the upstairs people's fridge & only house washroom further through to the left:
The kitchen was pretty dirty, and the 2 fridges were fully stuffed, and smelled kinda moldy, the bathroom was filled with cobwebs, and I don’t think anyone was too worried about the daddy long legs that lived in the tall ceilings. There were 4 bedrooms on the first floor, and the second floor was down stairs because the street was so severely sloped that each floor led outside. The second floor had 3 bedrooms, one living room, one dining room, one kitchen, 2 refrigerators, one shower and bath, and one toilet. Yes, that’s 7 bedrooms, one toilet. She told me that she had WOOFers at her parent’s farm, but that we couldn’t have coushsurfers here because of the facility limitations. But still, I was so enthused to live there! My own place! It had been almost a year since I had a place I could call my own! I just wanted to have a bed that I could close a door and just do nothing! Best of all, they had internet (a commodity here in New Zealand). I told her I’d want the place for 6 months, and she told me her sister would only be gone for 4, but she would talk it over with her folks (the owners of the house). It seemed like a waist to me to try and rent the place out for only four months, and apparently they agreed, because they said that her sister would just move back in with their parents for 2 months! And with that, and a good word in from Anna about me, and I moved in that Wednesday!
view from my room:
Auckland City Center at night from where we do Acro: