Spotted some first year students around town this week, which means that I have been in Wellington ten years. I came to the big city from Nelson in 2005 with my big red mug and a new silver desk lamp. I was too young to go to bars but ready to do four "papers," whatever they were. I was at Weir House, up on the hill. I had a week-long and pretty awkward friendship of convenience with a guy who was doing O-Week on crutches due to a sporting injury, but who definitely didn't identify as a jock. He took taxis around the place on ACC and I got to go with him sometimes. That first week, I had no idea where I was. None. For days I needed help finding my way back up to the hostel from Willis Street. The idea that anyone could get lost in Wellington, which has five streets, is ridiculous to me now. During this time, I harboured a terrible secret - I'd never been drunk. This was a dark cloud hanging over me until suddenly it really wasn't (thanks a bundle, barcadi and coke). I didn't have a cell phone because I was terrified that if I went ahead and bought one, no-one would text me, and everyone would somehow know that no-one texted me and I would be pitied and scorned in equal measure. I told people that my not having a phone was a personal decision based on a desire not to be enslaved by technology. In my first lecture the guy asked us to raise our hands if we thought we wanted to work in the public sector. Hands. Private sector? Hands. Somewhere.... else? (His joke, on us, lost on me- I had no idea what either of those things were). I swapped six Export Golds for a second hand Blindspott CD with the guys down the hall. I bought Neil Finn's One Nil from Slow Boat, also second hand. I wrote sad journals, which are now up in the roof somewhere. In my defense, all the cells in my body have since died and been replaced. I'm enjoying remembering this sad crap, because it seems that maybe (cue plucky music) we are all idiots in the warm glow of hindsight, and so we should all therefore be kind to each other. Y'know? Y'know? Yeah. Now stop clogging the footpath, you lot- Estab's thatta-way.
As I've mucked through the past decade, Wellington has contracted around me like a crispy cicada shell (poetry, anyone?) till now it fits nice and snug. I feel like I know it pretty well, though I have never been to the top of one of those high rise buildings or ridden a crocodile bike. Next week I'm off to New York, a city which is actually big. I really have no idea what I'm in for, while at the same time I reckon it'll just be a lot like 30 Rock. I still have this half-idea that I can just wander around Manhattan like the Wellington waterfront, and everything will be ten minutes walk apart, like from Civic Square to the Embassy. Guess what- I'm going to get lost, because I don't know anything. But at least I have a phone now, and it has google maps.
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