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Wellington, November 2022

Reflection 7/10 - A Brief Interlude

Today marks six months since I moved back to the capital. Originally the plan was to be here for the summer and use it as a stepping stone to work out my next path. Wellington was meant to be a brief interlude to conclude The Year of Sacrifice and Respite. You could hardly say that I was committed, opting to sleep on an air mattress for 10 weeks instead of buying a bed. I still don't feel particularly committed to my life here. If presented with a better offer, I'd snatch it up. I don't really see that as an issue. It is, after all, a better offer. Why would you take the worse one? Anyway, I digress.

As well as knowing how to tell the difference between French, German, and Italian Sixth Chords, the most profound lesson from my undergrad music theory lecturer, was that if you plan on doing any postgrad, you should take a year away from study first. Apparently, it will help you work out if you really want to do it. Right now I am 11 months and about 15 days into this "gap year". For most of it, I have been contracting as a freelance arts administrator and admittedly I'm now missing the research and university lifestyle whilst growing fatigued of contract hopping. But I'm still in two minds about what I want next. Honestly, I doubt that the next 15 days will provide any further clarity but that's the topic of another blog. Upon reflection, she did say to do something completely different for the year. Maybe that's where I went wrong. Anyway, I digress again.

When I decided to move to Wellington, it seemed to be the logical next step, a great place to plan the rest of the trail. Just before flying home from the tour, I met a friend for an early morning coffee. Arriving at the venue 30 minutes early (due to Dexter's time management) I did what I normally avoid doing and decided to wait for them inside. The fact it was 7:30 AM in the first week of spring with a southerly gale, and a failed attempt to layer, probably contributed to this out-of-character move. I could pretend that I spent the full 30 minutes reflecting on my trip but this wasn’t the case. As we exchange pleasantries and catch up on important events, they ask “so what are your plans for next year?” alluding to a conversation we had had in Nelson. Lucky for them I'd made a decision merely moments before they joined the table. “I think I’ll look at starting a PhD and move to Wellington,”.

This was only three months into my gap year, and I'm surprised I had such conviction with my response. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to do a PhD. For a long time, I thought it would be the only thing that made up for the guilt of dropping law so quickly. However, actually enjoying the trauma that was a master's is probably the biggest motivator now. I find it interesting the order in which I said it. Perhaps they were two separate things. I'd look at starting a PhD and move to Wellington. To be fair, I have done both of those things. I have moved to Wellington and I have started looking at PhDs. I've done a lot of research on the best place to do more research. Since being back, I've also looked at lots of PhDs. It helps that many of my friends have them. It also helps that some of them are very nice to look at too. So I have been looking at PhDs in this sense as well. Anyway, I digress.

I moved back to Wellington because I wanted to reconnect. I wanted to be around people in my sphere. People who get it. Napier is a great place to grow up, but it's definitely lacking in some regards when you hit your early twenties. It's hard to go from big city living back to provincial life. Believe me, I've done it twice. Returning to the city, the aim was never to claw back the life I once had. It'd been three years since I last lived here, and I'm now a different person. I'm less anxious, more secure, and much more tolerant. I'm probably also less arrogant. This was always a defence mechanism at Music School. You didn't show weakness. People say ignorance is bliss, but after meeting some musicians, I think arrogance is far more blissful. Anyway, I digress yet again.

After securing a flat, I arrived in Wellington with only a suitcase. It was my brother's birthday and he was hosting celebrations, so I saw it fit to go straight from the airport to the venue. What was a 2.5km 20-minute walk at most, turned into a 50 minute marathon dragging my suitcase around the far side of the airport to Parrotdog. The walk itself is very straight with few visual obstructions. Seeing where you needed to be, and only making 10 or so meters at a time was incredibly demoralizing. As I arrived sweaty, puffed and once again contemplating my life choices related to walking from airports, the group erupts into cheers. This was a great start. I knew I had been missed. Wellington was the right decision. I quickly learnt that I was actually holding up their dinner plans at a BYO in town.

They say great writers have strong themes and I have been trying desperately to ensure that my theme isn't walking long distances. You have no idea the number of times I have had to edit out stories that involve such walks. When I first moved to Auckland, I walked from Queen St to a party in Epsom. 2.5 hours in 80% mid-Feb humidity. On my next trip to Auckland, I walked from New Market to the University and back. Twice. In one day. In Christchurch, I was only saved by Mark telling me that there was no feasible route to walk from Sumner to the city. Believe me, google maps will also tell you that this is the case. Somehow, I feel like I have just undone what I was trying to set up. Anyway, I digress.

I didn't have a timeline to move to Wellington. I'd been applying for jobs but never getting anywhere. At the time I still had a contract for the University of Auckland, so I was at least able to cover any potential rent. What really got the ball rolling was seeing a flat of music students and recent grads advertising a room. Having never flatted with musicians before and feeling like I should at least once, I applied. It was a great location, we knew people in common, and the dates seemed to line up well. I decided not to move in on the day I arrived. I anticipated that the birthday celebrations would be rather rambunctious and I knew arriving at a new flat directly from a night out wasn't the best first impression. What I hadn't anticipated was that I'd end on a night out with the legends Jack "Jeck" Hankins and Conner "the Mover & Shaker" Moot. It was a wise decision to stay elsewhere.

That night Dexter had kindly offered me his bed on the condition I didn't get under the covers. This is a strange request, but he is a strange boy. He knew I had just showered. He made me go back to his flat for one before going to the BYO. At least he provided a sleeping bag and a key to get in. The next morning, my friend Alice picked me up and we made our way down the hill for brunch and a walk along the beach. A quick stop at the Lyall Bay Warehouse to pick up an air mattress and I was ready to move in. I don't think I could have asked for a better start to this little interlude.

One of the reasons I gravitated towards Wellington was because the flats I visited on my tour were very, very nice. Most of my friends have graduated from student flats into working flats. The difference is staggering having communal areas, labelled jars, and great indoor-outdoor flow. My new flat also had great indoor-outdoor flow, in that the window frame had rotted and there was a hole that went outside. It's been "repaired" for the third time, (and hopefully last) only this week. The flat was perfect for summer. For like summer school, it was an intensive introductory programme to flatting with musicians. Like summer papers, a year's worth of content is condensed into three months. The FOMO that arose from pulling out of a flat with some music school mates as an undergrad had been well and truly quenched. Largely by the damp that accumulates from the lack of ventilation. Anyway, I digress further.

In early January, I got a job that could be done remotely but would be most valuable if I was in Wellington, thus leading me to decide to stick around for a little bit longer. After half a year I have started to lay down some roots. Albeit, very shallow ones. I have joined/created a pub quiz team, routinely go out with friends, attend gigs and have even been to my first rave. It has been quite the eventful interlude. The photos included feature people I've reconnected with, some locals, others just visiting. Now I'm at the stage where I'm wondering which category I will fall into. Will I become a local or will Wellington just be another place to visit?


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