The last few days have been a study in the art and concept of perception. Subjective. Objective. Life is largely a matter of one’s perception…said by my non-bland self…
I must say that it is nice to be back in civilization again. Some semblance of normalcy where people are upfront yet friendly. Customs was a breeze – in stark contrast to the almost strip search I experienced upon entry to NZ. I was greeted at my hotel by name. People who work here want to help as do strangers who are all quite welcoming. I can get vegetable juice around the corner and everything is convenient.
It’s rather odd that although I loved many aspects of my time in New Zealand it seemed like a third world country in many ways. The physical landscape was spectacularly beautiful. The people were, well, mostly foreign which I found rather odd in a way but summer is starting and apparently it is a good place to “work” for the summer if one is say 19. I definitely would have done it had I known. That said, it was hard to get pretty much everything and anything accomplished and I dig a slow pace but no pace is well….uninteresting unless you are hiking, biking, sailing, boating, paragliding, hang gliding, skydiving, kayaking – you get the picture.
Which brings me to my next point about the difference between the people in New Zealand and Australia. I found it quite interesting that many Kiwis told me they didn’t like Aussies and that I would find the same here. And I have. It’s not a dislike per se I think but rather such a stark contrast in personalities that it is understandable why they might not mesh. Aussies are much more like New Yorkers (from what I can tell in two days). They say it like it is. They are upfront. Perhaps a bit crass but I sorta dig it. Or at least after a few weeks in New Zealand I do. A lovely new friend I met in NZ pointed out to me that Kiwis are generally very passive, don’t remark much about the service or lack thereof (which may be why their service is so horrendous) and just don’t like to make waves of sorts. I have definitely seen the opposite here. People want what they want and make sure it happens.
A prime example would be my two friends I went out with last night. I met them on a street corner in NYC exactly a year ago. They were looking for a bar in my hood which had closed but also would not have been a fun place for such cool chicks to hang out. I was in a rush to get home apparently (as they reminded me last night) but I saw they were lost and asked if I could help. Guide book in hand of the Brit – I took it and wrote notes of where they should go DOWNTOWN. She reminded me last night that I commented on the never-had-I-ever-seen-before orange patent leather shoes of my new friend-to-be who told me she rocked them and they did in fact match her orange coat which she carried off perfectly. She did rock that outfit and wore them a few nights later when we had drinks. The orange shoes that is. She totally pulled it off and was not bothered by my potentially snooty NY fashionista comment in any way. In contrast, my friend in New Zealand, Kit, took great offense when I commented about her orange patent leather shoes last weekend. I meant no harm, and probably used the same tone as I did with Diari the Aussie, but merely was wowed by the boldness of the choice and the ability to pull them off. Needless to say this became one of many misperceptions or miscommunications or plain old we knew each other a long time ago for a short time but we don’t know each other anymore moments….it did take the wind out of my New Zealand sail experience as Kit was the majority of the reason I came over but it’s ok and many tears later I am sure I will realize it happened for a reason and maybe our season is over. Life is too short. And life is largely a matter of one’s perception…too often subjective, objective often not.
On this trip I have discovered, for better or worse, that the expression wherever you go there you are holds true. I am seeing beautiful (and not so beautiful) sights and meeting new people and seeing old friends but I am still me. Trying to figure out who I am post-cancer and it’s not easy. Everyone is on a path or journey of sorts….all different yet sometimes similar.
I stepped onto a small van for a vineyard tour and wine tasting a couple days ago in Queenstown, NZ and sat next to my pseudo male self, Tad. By that I mean he was on week six of a one-way ticket around the world that started by going east (whereas I am going west). Queenstown was his last stop on his journey. Mine is sort of just beginning. We learned this within the first 3 minutes of chatting. Very weird. His relationship had dissolved earlier this year, his position at work (marketing – similar to me) was eliminated and he had sold his houses and put his stuff in storage, just turned 35 and here he was sitting next to me. I had planned to sell my place and potentially put my belongings in storage this summer until I had to evacuate due to mold. People come into your life for a reason and it may only be a moment in time or hours for a day but it was interesting to meet someone on a similar journey. I asked if he was anxious about going back to the US and he remarked that he was a bit but had some work leads and the subject wasn’t pursued by either of us. Similar journeys. Opposite directions. One at the end and one just starting with five more weeks to go….maybe more. This spoke to me.
Another sweet new friend I made on the ferry from Waiheke to Auckland characterized me as “not bland” when we were on the phone the other night. I laughed. Not bland. Very true. I have been described as many things but bland has never been one. I am not one for dry white toast anyway….well maybe with cheese or pate when I used to eat meat pre-cancer…
I have learned that people communicate in many different ways. Many don’t communicate at all. But during the vineyard tour I had the privilege of getting a glimpse into the fantastic sense of humor of a hearing impaired man while on our tour. His wife met him through work – she is a professional who works with the hearing impaired. Early on in the day I did think to myself for a split second – “wow perfect relationship, he can’t talk back to her and give her hell.” But boy the more this man drank the funnier he became and the more he had to “say” which he made known via his hands and eyes. He even became a bit of a flirt with yours truly. It was also so interesting to watch their form of communication and interaction. Silent yet not.
I forgot to mention in my last blog that I flew over and saw The Remarkables which are pretty awesome! The mountains were named The Remarkables by Alexander Garvie in 1857-58 allegedly because they are one of only two mountain ranges in the world which run directly north to south – An alternate explanation for the name given by locals is that early Queenstown settlers, upon seeing the mountain range during sunset one evening, named them the Remarkables to describe the sight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Remarkables
Many interesting days filled with new sights and friends who were different shapes, sizes and colors. Illustrated by photos of course…
The bridge where the concept of bungee jumping originated….still not for me!
I just liked this…bought the dishtowel version.
Gibbston Valley Vineyard, Central Otago.
A little friend that was found on my shoulder during lunch…she did not want to leave me!
My naughty hearing impaired friend!
The pinot noir soaked “Christmas cake” I never got to taste but boy it sounded yummy!!
Our most interesting winemaker of the day…great Riesling!
Pretty much how my life looks right now…open, empty road….Since I write under a pseudonym all of my photos are taken from the back but what I have realized is that I started taking this stance recently. It’s interesting for me to look at as I have my arms open to receive anything and everything because that is really where I am in life. Open. Ready. Willing. Able. Hopeful. That the universe will show me some path or something!!
The end of the vineyard tour and my friend is still communicating….
A couple more friends….
The Aussie in Queenstown….my first glimpse of things to come! Very opinionated.
Seen from Sunshine Bay.
The best burger ever!! Even for a veggie!!
My buddy Toon who made everything better!
It was hard to leave Queenstown as you can probably tell. I loved it there! They do love fish and chips in NZ.
My first view of Australia from the air…
I had the wonderful pleasure of watching these little penguins make their way home from sea the other night on Phillip Island which is the southernmost tip of Australia (other than Tazmania). You were not allowed to take photos but it was incredible to watch. They waddled in like little drunk children. It was extraordinary and really cheered me up for a moment when I needed it.
Our guide. I learned that penguins only live in the southern hemisphere (I always thought there were penguins in Alaska – apparently not!) and most penguins like to live in packs and need each other. These little guys are very independent. They like to be alone generally and only travel onshore in a pack after sunset so they don’t get picked up by predatory birds. They are independent of their parents at only a week old. It was fascinating. I found my little penguin self understanding their desire to be together at times and often alone….they may long for more togetherness though as do I.