17 January 2012

New Zealand Chronicles | Sight & Perspective

7 December 2011

I woke up and just knew something was wrong. I mean it's normal for one of my eyes to wake up after the other. One just likes to stay shut a little longer. I do not believe in rushing the process, especially first thing in the morning. But on this morning both eyes wanted to open. Both eyes did open. But one could not open as much as it wanted. It was swollen. It was swollen a lot more than it had been on my first full day in New Zealand. I lay on my pallet, poking at it and taking pictures to help my diagnosis. I concluded something was wrong and proceeded to begin to go about our day. Ang knocked at the door. 

"Woah."
"Yeah." 
"Wow."

My eyelid was swollen. There was no itching. There was tenderness so mild, it could have been imaginary. My eyeball was not red. There was no gunk. Other than the grotesque swelling, all was well. But the swelling was just so grotesque. Naturally I posted it to Facebook and accused Angie of assault. One day, when these words have outlived us and some high school kid is writing about social media and the downfall of civilization, that last sentence is going to help him / her prove a point. But back to me. I was abroad and ugly-ish. This was potentially tragic. Fortunately for me, the cause was permeable. And after a shower, I was sure I wouldn't be a spectacle whilst walking. Well, at least not for anything other than being the only Black person in the country. That, I can handle. Don't forget - I live in Chinatown, Jake.
Ready for the public.

The Eyelid Crisis of 2011 had us right on time to have lunch with The Squash Player. I mean I'm sure we had some other pretense reason to get on his side of town, but this blog is just about reporting the facts. We gassed up, and hit the road. I would like to take a brief moment to explain the significance of this picture. I may have been the youngest in our graduating high school class, but Angie was the unlicensed-est. I know I've mentioned this before. But Angie with a car, Angie responsible for a car and its maintenance, is just something that may never ever get old. Okay. Off to meet The Squash Player. We went to Mac's Brew Bar, where I continued to be on the booze with a lovely cocktail. This might have been where my future plans for a home bar blossomed. I can't tell really. 
Pulp Fiction: Vanilla Vodka, Passion Fruit Pulp.
Basil, Lime & Soda.
Fish & Chips
Paying the bill.
A few things to note about restaurants in New Zealand. You pay at the register, even if it's a sit down establishment. They sort the bill at the register, making it super easy for each debit card to pay for what each debit card holder ordered. There are no taxes, no Healthy SF type add-ons either. You don't even leave a tip. Angie says it's because wait staff is paid an actual wage. They don't have to work for tips. And since it's not America, they're polite anyway. Fascinating. I did see some tip jars, and I probably got carried away when I decided to use them. 

Christmastime.

We lunched. We walked. I went to Starbucks. Full disclosure: I was excited for that. Does a soy latte taste the same halfway around the world? Nope. It's not better or worse, it's just different. I'm sure it has to do with where both the beans and the soy originate. It should also be noted Starbucks stores in New Zealand do not take Starbucks cards. That probably means nothing to you, but to me it meant paying for modifiers and not getting a gold star. I recognize the extreme "first world problem" reality of this. I'm just documenting, because that's what I do. 

Then we were off to the beach.

It was what we in "the business" call a "make good" for the Sunday prior. Where there had been rain, there was sunshine. Also, just as you would expect on a weekday in early December, there were young kids in school uniforms all over the beach. Some had taken off their uniforms to tan their awkward bodies. I heard them tease each other and giggle. I saw them walk in their cliques. It was all very normal, except for the number of adults there to witness it. Even if it had just been Ang & I, I don't want to be anywhere near kids in bathing suits or (even worse) school uniforms. We kept walking. 

We went back to the Takapuna Beach Cafe for gelato. We sat on a wall and watched the water. I told Angie she had totally changed my outlook on the world. I did my best to explain I had accepted a new reality, that validation is neither career no  job related. I had come to realize life is less about meeting expectations (something Ang & I had always done well) and more about finding what we expect from ourselves. In New Zealand I learned I had to determine what I want from life. It's not the same as naming what I want to be or listing what I hope to accomplish. It's not even finding what drives me. It's finding that thing which, at the end of the day, makes me fall asleep with a smile on my face and no regrets in my heart. I don't know what I said to Ang on that stone wall in Takapuna, but that's what I was feeling. It was amazing.