The day of reckoning had finally come upon me. I hadn’t paid for any luggage, so all I had to take on my trip were the clothes on my back, my three year old laptop that was holding on by a single copper thread, and a book I had borrowed from the library that was all about fishing. I got a ride to the airport, early in the morning and three hours before my flight actually left. I had given up so much for this simple little trip that there was no way I was going to let anything get in my way or impede my progress towards what I was increasingly coming to consider was my destiny. It was a ridiculous thought, but it kept me pushing through all the barriers I had put in my own way to ensure I never went on this trip.
Going through the duty free zone I recognized a face I had become familiar with over the past few days. It was the label of Johnny Walker Red, a perfectly acceptable Scotch that was extremely cheap – made even cheaper by my not having to pay any GST on it. It was too good of an offer to pass up, and so I purchased two 1.25L bottles of the good stuff. Sitting in the lounge I took the occasional swig of the good stuff and slowly I felt the way I thought I should always feel; relaxed and happy and inexplicably smelling the sweetest smell I had ever experienced. Life felt good and I wasn’t worried about the million things I normally worried about.
Thankfully nothing funky was done at the security station and I was let through no problemo. The flight was called and I boarded the plane and it flew to the body of land that is commonly known as New Zealand. I stepped out of the airport, took a bus and then took another bus and, then, I was told that the bus wasn’t going to be stopping anywhere near Taupo, and was instead going to be going to the far west of the North Island. And I hadn’t purchased a sim in this country since my money was scarce enough and I didn’t think I could afford $20 for a sim so that I could get some roaming done. Well, it turned out that that was the worst $20 I had ever saved. Thankfully the bus came equipped with WiFi – which was thankfully universal- one of the many wonders of modern technology – and I was able to finally contact Lizzy and beg her to come pick me up an hour away from our original designated pickup point. It was down to the wire. The last message I managed to get out was the location of my stop, and then the bus left along with my only WiFi connection for hundreds of miles.
I was cold and shivering and considering my options for living a night on the cold, cold streets in this foreign country when a well kept little VW rolled up next to me and I saw Lizzy peaking out the window, waving at me and shouting ‘fuckin’ ‘ell mate. Cold enough for ya? You wanna get the fuck in?’
‘Yes,’ I replied, shivering, ‘I would very much like to get the fuck in.’
I got in the back seat and was instantly warmed by the car heater and also the warmth of my welcome.
‘Heya,’ said the driver of the car. Even looking at him from behind and with a car seat blocking most my vision I could tell that the person addressing me was a wide shouldered and broad chested Maori man.
‘This is my fiance, Tommy.’
‘But you can call me the blaster,’ he interjected and then let out a full bellied laugh. Lizzy hit him on the shoulder and retorted, ‘no, please don’t call him that. Just call him Tom or Tommy.’
I looked at him and said ‘hello, uh, Tommy. It’s nice to meet you. Thanks for going so far out of your way to pick me up. I wish I had known about the bus’ detour, but I was only told about it on the fuckin ride down.’
‘Ah, no problem. I love going for a drive down here. Plenty or windy roads and no little piggys yeah?’ he asked sarcastically and threw a whimsical glance my way before letting out another full bellied laugh and then being slapped on the arm once again by Lizzy.
‘Just ignore him,’ she said as she turned back to face me, ‘he just impulsively has to impress strangers. How have you been? You said that you recently quit your job?’
I sat in the seat feeling rather nervous as the stranger I had only known as fiance was going 110 around sharp corners on strange roads in dim lights. I hoped that the conversation would distract me from this crazy driving.
‘Uh, yeah, I just kind of…left. I didn’t really feel like working there anymore. Plus I got those tickets to, well, here. And so I decided to leave. What’ve you been up to?’
‘Oh, well I hope that that’s a good thing for you. You were always so smart at uni. I’m just teaching English at the local highschool, and Tommy here -’
‘The blaster.’ Another hit on the highly muscled shoulder.
‘Tommy here works as a mechanic.’
A belly fueled laugh filled the chassis of the car before Tommy interjected with ‘yeah, third best mechanic in all of Taupo! That’s pretty fucking good, ‘ay.’
‘Oh, shut up,’ replied Lizzy, ‘there’s only three fucking mechanics in all of Taupo.’
‘Yeah, well, you didn’t need to tell him that.’
Lizzy looked back at me and rolled her eyes while more laughter filled my ears. ‘You see, he just can’t help but show off to strangers. Oh, we’re almost home now,’ and then we turned off and the speed went down from 110 to around 60, which was still 20km/h over the speed limit. ‘We’ve got the couch set up for you. I hope that’s okay?’
‘Yeah, that’ll be perfect. I honestly wouldn’t mind if you made me sleep out in the garden,’ and then I let out a burst of nervous laughter. It was met by far less nervous laughter from the two people in the front seats.
‘Nah bro, we’d never make a guest do that.’
We got into the modest driveway to the modest house of a teacher and a mechanic. At this point I had been awake for almost 23 hours and every ounce of my body just wanted to collapse asleep. I saw the inviting couch, took off my shoes, and laid up there. The worn through foam and protruding springs were a welcome comfort compared to the tight fit of the plane seats, and the uncomfortably bumpy passage of the bus, and the way-over-the-speed-limit drive here. Compared to all that I felt like I was sleeping on a cloud.
‘Aww, look ‘it ‘im. Night fella.’ Said Tommy before going into what was obviously the main bedroom.
‘I’ll catch you tomorrow. You have a good night here now,’ said Lizzy before following him in. I had never fallen asleep more easily as on that mess of a couch. It represented everything I had wanted since planning this trip – freedom from being judged and simply being relaxed and content with what you are.
Continue the story here.