Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Well, I did it: yesterday while writing an email I surprised myself by referring to Auckland as "home" without thinking about it. A transition like that is always a noteworthy one to make because it shows how you finally realize you're not just a tourist, you're actually living here, and what's more you are still going to call this new-but-not-so-new place home for several months more. It's a gradual and subtle transition to make, but there's no going back once you've made it.

And it is true: all the little things that you know only by living in a place long enough have manifested themselves by this point, from knowing exactly how long the wait is at the intersection to making use of shortcuts between classes to buying the lunchtime sushi at the "regular" spot because it's always fresh and a dollar cheaper than anywhere else at NZ$5. I've incorporated a few words like "cheers" and "mate" into daily usage because it seems like the natural thing to do, and have even been asked for directions by a few confused backpackers.

Not bad at all, if I do say so myself, but it only takes one moment to unravel it all and leave me a forgiener again, like seeing someone who could pass for an old friend running to lecture or spotting someone who looks a lot like a relative while in the bookstore. And then I'll realize that that person is thousands of miles away, a distance greater than what most people will ever travel in a lifetime, and I don't know when I'll see that person again. So I'll be still a moment, watching this manifestation of genetic similarity who doesn't even know of his similar-looking cousin (or cousins?) elsewhere in the world.

Yes, I get homesick sometimes, but in a sense it's alright because it would be much more upsetting if I never did. People who no longer get homesick fall into two categories in my mind: they either never had it all that good, or have forgotten where they came from. I like to remain removed from both as much as possible, even if it does mean the sight of a stranger on the street has the potential to make my heart ache.

Plus anyway, I'm at home now. It's good here. And before I know it, I'll be back in the States noticing that the stranger in the street looks an awful lot like his Kiwi counterpart.