And before she could even say “hello”, it was time to go home.

12 01 2007

I read somewhere sometime that a girl didn’t want to go on an amazing trip because she knew it was going to end, that there would be a last day or a last night or a last breakfast or a last cup of coffee or a last drive down a road that was unfamiliar to begin with but nevermind because it was the last thing she was going to do anyway and the fact that it was last was the thing that made her sad. I read that somewhere and thought it was silly, until I realized that girl is me.

I woke up this morning to rain. Not much of a surprise, seeing that’s how things started a month ago upon my arrival and how it continued for the first two weeks. But now, after packing up my bags and taking a shower and having a cup of coffee, the sun is shining brightly and clearly and I think it’ll be a good day. If only.

The truth is, time passed so slowly while I was here and it was only these past two or three days that felt rushed because we needed to be conscious of time passing, if only so I don’t miss my flight. Today. It feels like only a few days since I arrived, but then if that were true, it wouldn’t have been possible to do all the things we did in just a few days. So when I think of it like that, when I think of all the things we did and the places we explored, well, then it feels like it’s been just the longest time.

John Steinbeck wrote this. He was trying to describe a place he visited in Maine but nothing he could think of could describe it very accurately or with enough poetry or with enough Steinbeck-ness to do it justice. He wrote, “There is something about [this place] that opens no door to words. But it stays with you afterwards, and, more than that, things you didn’t know you saw come back to you after you have left.” I imagine that’s how things will be in the weeks and months following this trip to New Zealand. I imagine my eyes took in much more than my mind could process in the moment I was seeing and so I imagine that somewhere in between the sleeping and waking moments, or in the moments when I stare at something but nothing on a busride or in a meeting or in my apartment, those visions will reappear and I will see them again for the first time.  There are no ways for me to explain or to describe this country without waxing poetic or without sounding cliche. Like Steinbeck, I find no door to words to write about this place generally.

But the moments that appear before me, fresh in my mind, without the fog of passing time or clouds of judgement to impede their precise location in my memory, are few and distinct. Just after New Year’s, for instance, in a small town that will remain nameless so as to keep everything a secret from the world, we stayed at a home where we met a smoky old psychiatric ward nurse and her sons. We drank beer with them all night and listened to their glorious back-and-forth dialogue which went something like this, with all the love a mother and child could muster for one another:

Son: (somethingsomethingfuckingsomethingfuck!)

The Rest of Us: (laugh)

Mother: Oh, would you shut the fuck up? I haven’t finished what I was saying.

The Rest of Us: (laugh)

Son: (somethingfucksomethingc**tsomething?)

The Rest of Us: (laugh)

Mother: Oh, for Chrissakes, Son. If shit were brains, you’d be a fart.

The mother’s name was Jenny Steele. She was small and coughy and, along with her sons and six year old granddaughter Natalie, had a manner of speaking with such dysfunctional, humorous loving that it made me want to write a book just to have her in it. So maybe I will.

So I’ll leave today on that note. Go out again and see things slowly and clearly on this, my last day. I’ll take the rain and cold and sunshine and black pebble beaches and wine and wine and wine and wine and mosquitos and sleeping and sun and suntan lotion and coffee and ocean for miles and Jenny Steele and kauris and kiwis and sheep and sheep and sheep and sheep and motorcamps and bare feet and a little more rain with me on my flight, back to Brasil, and unpack them slowly over time, one by one, unexpectedly, until all of them are laid out before me in my littlebig apartment thousands of miles away.

And before I know it, Dennis will be there with me, and things will all be very, very good.




One response

13 01 2007

I love that Steinbeck quote. Here’s to very very good. 🙂

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