Recently I learned that I love big cities but I also love little towns, too. I can visualise myself living happily in both of these locations, which either makes me adaptable or really quite confused.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about such juxtaposition, which also happens to be one of my favourite words. And strangely it has to do with rugby, so let me explain… the week before the All Blacks won the 2015 World Cup I spent a fair amount of time telling a bunch of Aussies that I don’t really follow rugby any more. In fact, I wanked on about how I much preferred the theatre and the “arts” generally to the game that is supposedly played in heaven (well, it will be now that Jerry and Jonah are there).
Up until that point I hadn’t watched a single game of the tournament, but found myself a few hours later screaming at my television set, while simultaneously scaring my cat, as the All Blacks sneaked over the line to semi-final glory.
A week later, I was again telling a bunch of Aussies (this time in Sydney) that I wasn’t overly fussed with who won the final, while simultaneously betting them 50 bucks a head that the ABs would be victorious. Their misguided optimism meant they were happy to take such a wager. A few hours later, after getting up at 3am to watch a game that I seemingly wasn’t interested in, I was one of millions of kiwis who witnessed the All Blacks triumph – and also started counting my winnings.
Later that same night, as fate would have it, I flew back to New Zealand for a short holiday. My dad and step-mum now live in a smallish town so the juxtaposition from my “home” in a big Australian city and where “home” now is in New Zealand is profound. And while I was there I realised that I liked both places equally because each gives me something that I need.
There’s no question I thrive on the frenetic pace of big cities. There are plenty of opportunities, plenty of things happening, and certainly plenty of weirdos, which helps to keep life interesting while also giving me plenty to write about.
When I go home to my parents’ house in New Zealand, the pace of life automatically reduces by about one billion. To me, the grass is literally greener, the food is literally fresher and everyone literally has an accent that I never used to notice because I had it too. I still do, to a degree, but when I’m in New Zealand a lot of people think that I’m Australian, which really is quite confusing for me.
This trip home involved many wonderful hours of doing not much but hanging with my dad. We spent hours talking about everything and nothing – an aspect of our relationship that has never waned in all the years that I’ve lived overseas. We took a road trip one day and cruised the back country roads in one of his vintage cars. I soaked up the magic of a day of just him and me, as well as the scenery, which seemed more vibrant and alive than ever before. I guess compared to the grey, concrete vistas that engulf big cities the visual contrast is pretty bloody obvious.
While I know that one day, if I so wished, I could live a more simple and quiet life, my reaction to the beauty of my homeland didn’t make me want to migrate back there again. It just made me happy that I come from such a spectacular place, which I can visit whenever my “busy” life allows. Then I get the best of both of my worlds.
And so it was that the day before I was due to fly back to Australia, I did something that reinforced the utter bullshit that I’d been talking just a few short weeks before – I just hadn’t known it at the time. The All Blacks were in town for their victory parade, you see and I happily jumped on a bus for the 90-minute journey to see them. And then when I got there, I joyously joined the throng of thousands of proud supporters on the sidelines.
As the Men in Black cruised down a blocked-off, rather unremarkable city street – on the back of utes with hardly any security or police and not a barricade in sight – I clapped and clapped and clapped until my hands smarted. I think there may have even been a proud tear or two, which I quickly wiped away probably pretending it was allergies.
And then with a massive grin on my face, and the honest realisation that you can take the girl out of New Zealand but not vice versa no matter how much I think I’ve changed, I jumped on a bus and then a plane to head back to both of the places that I now call home.