The next day I didn’t come into work, and I was pestered incessantly by management as to why I hadn’t been at my desk all day. The day after that the same thing happened. Then again and again and again until, finally, they just left me alone. I was laying in my bed at three o’clock in the afternoon when it washed over me just exactly what position I was in – I was free. No more bosses, no more management, no more having to hand in a report to three or four people so they can desecrate it and waste all the valuable time I had spent on it. Then another feeling washed over me – I had no fuckin money. My latest paycheque had just come in and pushed my account back up to $800. That’s all I had for my entire trip, and then when I got home whatever I had left was what I had to live with until I found another job, which would take god knows how long.
I expected a sudden rush of panic to overtake me at this moment. I mean, I had always been the nervous type of fellow and so the idea that I would end up being homeless in just over a week should have triggered every nerve I have and sent me into a deep and shocking anxiety attack. But it didn’t. I just kept laying on the bed, and I let the fear wash over me. I had never felt that level of perfect calm before in my entire life. For once, I felt like everything would be okay. Instead of worrying I stayed in my bed and tried to come up with a plan for my trip to the great nation of NZ. My first idea was that I wanted to go fishing. I had always wanted to go but had never had the time or the courage to try it out. The fear of failing to catch even a single thing had been too much for me to overcome. But, now, what the hell.
On my computer I looked up good fishing places in NZ. One of the places that rang out to me the most was a little place called Taupo that was right on the edge of a massive lake that was, apparently, teaming with fish. The reason it stuck out to me is because I remembered an almost forgotten friend mentioning that she was moving there.
A new tab on my computer opens up and I send her a rather abrupt message.
‘Hey there Lizzy. How’ve you been going lately? I was just wondering if you’re still living in Taupo?’
Then the anxiety washed over me. This is what I was used to feeling. Constantly in a state of fear – as if I was in a small container that was filled up to my neck with water and I was constantly struggling for breath. I went into the kitchen and poured myself a glass of some cheap whisky I had laying around on the bench. It was about three months old and only halfway done, but it seemed to immediately alleviate my condition. I returned to the computer centered and felt like I could actually breathe again. I saw that she had already replied.
‘Hey! How’ve you been? It’s been ages, but it’s nice to hear from you again. Did you ever end up doing anything with that degree of yours? Yeah, I’m living in Taupo with my fiance.’
I took another swig from the glass of the dark brown liquid and thought as hard as I could about my response.
‘Yeah, it’s been way too long. Well, I was using my degree until a few days ago when I kinda quit my job. I know that it’s kind of sudden and we haven’t talked to each other in ages but I’ve just planned a trip down to Taupo for a week and I was wondering if it wouldn’t be too much trouble if I could crash on your couch for that time. I wouldn’t be in your hair too much, I promise.’ She came back immediately.
‘Yeah, I’m cool with it. Just let me ask my fiance. I’ll be right back.’
And then the waiting began. If this didn’t go through the way I wanted it too then I wasn’t really sure exactly how any of the rest of it was going to work out. Maybe I could find a really cheap motel, but I had no idea about the area or the price of anything or where I would be going. Suddenly the fear and anxiety began to wash back over me. My inner voice shouted at the top of his lungs ‘what the fuck do you think you’re going?!’ My fingers were paralyzed by the keyboard. Fuck, now my whole body was paralyzed. The voice just kept on screaming at me louder and louder ‘exit this window fucking now and get back to work! What, do you want to end up on the street? Is that what the fuck you want?’
My eyes darted backward and forward, being the only part of my body that could still move. I wanted to move them as much as possible to try and convince myself that I was still in control. Finally, they settled on the almost empty glass of whiskey sat right next to my hand. I moved slowly and decidedly. It took all my focus and attention just to wrap my fingers around the cold glass, and then to raise it to my mouth and swallow the last bitter drips. After that I knew I was in full control of every muscle of my body. The shouting voice in my head had been drowned out by the alcohol and I was finally able to make any decision I wanted to make.
A new message popped up on my computer.
‘Yeah, he’s all good with it. When will you be coming over? We can’t wait to see you!’
‘Two days from now is when my flight leaves. And I got some tickets for the bus that will take me all the way from Wellington to Taupo. Will you be good to pick me up?’ I replied, relieved.
‘Yeah sure, that’s all good. Can’t wait to catch up again! It’ll be great. You’ll have to tell me everything that’s been going on in Melbourne since I left.’
‘Sure, only if you tell me everything that’s been going on in NZ.’
And with that final exchange all my plans had been set in motion. Only a few days left until I was out of this country and in somewhere that would be the only place outside of Australia I had ever visited. I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep, and so I finished off the bottle of whiskey that I had started, watched some shows, and then passed out asleep for the first time since I had graduated.
Continue story here.