21 December 2011

New Zealand Chronicles | Land of Opposites

2 December 2011

Angie drove us home. Sure, that's a logical occurrence and should be of no great import. But in the 20+ years I've known her, Ang has not driven. She didn't get her license until after high school. I didn't have mine either, but I was 16. She was 17, and obviously slacking. By the time Angie did get her license, we had already started that "let's live as far apart as possible" thing that we do. I heard tell of driving, but never actually witnessed it. And then all of a sudden, I was standing outside a car door on a gloomy morning in Auckland, New Zealand. 

"You have to get in on the other side." 
The Kiwis drive on the opposite side of the road from we here in the States. That was unnerving. Angie behind the wheel was unnerving. The propensity for roundabouts was unnerving. It was all quite stressful. Of course Angie did fine. She's a giddy little driver, singing and signaling. It was still weird - I didn't even get a decent picture - but it was really. Angie drives. 

I gushed over her flat. It's quite nice and at some point I'll tell you why. But when we got there, we were in a mad rush to tell the world we were together. It doesn't happen that often you know. We created a place that was her flat and checked in on Facebook. It was really the most important thing at that time. I promptly told the the world I was taking a shower. Again, it was the most important thing at that time. Then finally, after what had been nearly an entire year, my friend and I set out to eat delicious food. 

We went to a place within walking distance. I had a soy latte, carrot cake, and a chicken - Gorgonzola pannini with pesto sauce. I was pleased. Full disclosure: there will be a lot of pictures of food this trip. Not that any of the food was overly exotic. But it was pretty. And I'll want to remember. I was happy to get soy milk, which I could not get on the East Coast when I went back in October. And the carrot cake had more pistachios that I'm used to seeing. I said to myself, "self, that has to be delicious." And I was right. It should also be noted that Angie would not eat any of the foods pictured below. She doesn't drink coffee. She doesn't like sweets, or carrots, or pistachios. She does not eat Gorgonzola. I'm not really sure why, it's delectable. But I don't judge. That's more cheese for me. And despite what my doctor says, that's a good thing.

Soy Latte & Carrot Cake

Chicken Gorgonzola Paninni w/ Pesto

We're the same. But different.
After brunch, we hit the road. The sun had started to shine, and we went to the beach at Mission Bay. We didn't walk the promenade or visit any shops mentioned in that link. I just wanted to show you the options. No, Ang and I sat. We tried to take in the moment. The "we two girls who grew up in the 'Burg are now in New Zealand together on a beach in December" moment. I think it was a little too large for us. Ang pointed out "her" Brown Island, which is just a chocolate chip of land with nothing on it. Maybe one day. I mean stranger things have happened. 

Happy Faces.
We talked about the real reason for the season, Angie's birthday party. It's why I had to arrive when I did and therefore why I had to fly through LA. Angie had reserved tables at her neighborhood bar. People were coming. I thought everything was set. We were hours from go time when Angie mentioned (casually, no less!) she didn't know what she was going to wear. This seemed to me an egregious oversight. In the name of birthdays and parties and special attention and really all that I hold sacred, she needed a dress. I insisted. I strongly insisted. I forced pushed Angie to take us to a mall. She agreed. But first (in this land where Angie drives and Danie shops) we had more sights to see.

We stopped at a lovely overlook dedicated to a politician. We stopped on the $6 million street. We stood atop a volcano, where I found Angie's first gray hair. That gave me the giggles. It was decidedly much more traumatizing for my friend. It would have been nice if I could have shown  compassion. But alas, I did not have any. Only giggles. Oodles of giggles. 

View from Paritai Drive.

View from Mt. Eden
Moments before the gray hair was spotted.