I Didn’t Realise…

Moving to New Zealand, I left behind a close circle of really good friends and a lot more friends who had touched my life in various ways.

Those who have moved to another country, giving up pretty much everything, know how this feels. Alienating in a way. Humbling in another. A bit powerless too.

For many years here, I was happy with the status quo. Noel was now my life. I slotted in with his friends and that was that.

But after my Grandpa died, I felt that making my own friends, and friends more my age, would be healthy. To be honest, I couldn’t go on being the social hermit any more; I felt it was ageing me too quick and killing me.

So Noel and I put an advert on a few Internet sites, like NZDating (yes, people meet friends there too… it’s not all dodgy slutty stuff), to meet some new friends.

Noel and I met both Adam and Dave O. on there, both of whom have become such wonderful friends who, to be honest, I don’t know what I’d do without.

But for every success there are probably ten failures.

One example was a few years back (around Christmas) a guy who seemed nice contacted us; he, like us, was looking for friends. As a part of that, we exchanged photos.

Do you know what he said?

Basically, I wasn’t good looking enough to be his friend.

Sorry, I didn’t realise friendship involved a beauty contest.

I didn’t realise I needed to be Marcus Schenkenberg or Brad Pitt to be a friend.

I didn’t realise friendship was purely based on how hot I was and how much my stunningness would reflect and enhance your own.

Friendship, to me, is obviously a totally different concept than it was for him.

But the story doesn’t end there!

Shopping for Christmas cards at Merivale Mall — and Noel had wandered off to look at CDs, I think — I bumped into this guy. He proceeded to say, yeah, maybe we should meet up and be friends. I retorted that I thought I wasn’t beautiful enough to be his friend, but he replied the picture didn’t do me justice.

Do you know what I told him?

Fuck off!

Friendship, to me, means finding someone you have a connection and things in common with. Friends are there when you need them, during the good times and the bad, and lend an ear when you need someone to talk to. They give you advice, sometimes candidly, but that’s what you need to hear. And they add to your memories with good times, love and laughter.

So to those friends who touched my life in the US, thank you. For the friends who stood by me through thick and thin, you mean the world to me. The friends in New Zealand, the few and far between ones, thank you for standing by me, even in my darkest or stubbornest of hours. All those friends I’ve met on the journey through my life: you rock. I’ve lost contact with some friends, but they still deserve a thank you. And to the friends I have yet to meet… I look forward to it.

I didn’t realise how blessed with wonderful friends I am. And for that, I’m truly grateful.

Badgers, Swollen Streams and Snow (Oh My!)

Another weird dream from you-know-who (you all love me and my weird dreams, right? Right?)

Noel and I were walking through a field full of tall grass, the “flowers” grass puts out (that smooth, almost silky, growth at the top of a long stalk of grass); it stretched on as far as the eye could see. On the horizon, a storm was brewing. No lightening or thunder, but the dark storm clouds rolled slowly towards us. We walked slowly just the same.

We came to a stream, swollen by melted snow or maybe rain from the storm itself. Noel crossed it on a wide wooden plank, but I marvelled at how clear the water was, how it rushed by without making much noise, and how deep the stream was, only a foot or less from the bank. The grass went right up to the edge; there was no mud or slope, just a drop into the stream.

And then, two badgers, floating on their backs and holding hands or paws or whatever they have, glided on by, under the make-shift bridge then off into the distance.

I looked at Noel, and he said, “Were those beavers?”

“Badgers, I think,” came my reply.

And with that, another two, holding paws, came by, happy as Larry, floating down the stream.

Glancing further down the stream, I see pairs far down the winding stream. Shrugging and keeping an eye on the approaching storm, I cross the stream.

We keep walking until we reach a house. It’s an older house, a wooden one-storey farm house, painted white like the house we used to have next door to us on Wairakei Road. But this house was dilapidated, not taken care of, and we pushed on the door handle and went inside.

They were waiting for us. Jamie and his mother stood there and saw us and said hi. The conversation was somewhat muted — even in my dreams, I was still simmering with anger towards Jamie — and Leigh (Jamie’s mum) turned to complain about a new subdivision that went up across the street from them. The dark clouds still rolled over but now snow was coming down.

That’s pretty much where the dream ended.

So why am I telling you about this?

For some reason I checked on my Dreamer’s Dictionary on the symbols in the dream. I found:

The swollen stream represents the life force and how strong it flows through me. The badgers mean prosperity beyond my wildest imagination will come to me. Snow symbolizes wealth and the fact it will come quickly and without warning (basically when I least expect it).

So watch this space about that!

My Poor Car

My poor car.

For those of you who don’t know my car (and that’s pretty much everyone), it’s a Mistubishi RVR, a white mini-van-type thingy, affectionately known as “The Ambulance” because, well, it looks kinda like one.

Ol’ Warp 8 (her license plate) has moved us from here to there, moving the majority of our house’s contents when we moved and hauling bits and pieces to and from the school for parties and expos and all sorts of things.

So, after a bitch of a week (I was going to say something starting with c but I don’t want to offend) which saw me get not-so-much sleep every night due to either Noel’s back injury or my oblique injury, I was so looking forward to getting home and having home-made hamburgers with James and Jacqui, our neighbours, and Noel.

I took a way home different from what I normally do, which should have been an ominous sign. On the way home, a hoon in a small Honda Civic passed me at a roundabout (traffic circle for you Americans) and nearly got broadsided… and I thought, in 18 years, I’ve never behaved like that. I’ve never had an accident.

And, when the voice in my head said, take a left at the Prestons Road roundabout instead of going straight through then turning left onto Hawkins Road (instead of left on Prestons, right on Quaids, then right on Hawkins and left on Radcliffs), I decided I’ll follow the hoon and see what stupid stuff he got up to.

Not much. So I turned off on Hawkins and headed down into the darkness. I couldn’t use my brights because I could see the cars turning left into Radcliffs Road in the distance.

I got near the intersection, put my indicator on and slowed right down.

There was one car turning left in front of me — Radcliffs Road is a t-junction at Hawkins Road — and several cars lined up on Radcliffs Road waiting to turn left or right onto Hawkins.

Now, in New Zealand, we have a road rule a bit different from other countries. If a car is turning across traffic (left in this case) and another oncoming car is turning the same way (right in this case), the car turning across traffic gets the right-of-way if no oncoming (going thru) traffic is coming.

Being about 6 PM, and being dark at this time of year by that time, everyone had their headlights on. All I saw was the car turning left and the cars lined up, so I made my move.

A car pulled around the left-turning car — and I didn’t see the headlights shining behind the turning car or even the car itself — and I caught its headlights out of the corner of my eye right before her car’s brakes screeched and she broadsided me.

Needless to say, I was upset. I stopped right away and parked my car basically where it came to stop. A guy in a van waiting to turn onto Hawkins asked me if I was okay about three times then said I might want to move my van out of harm’s way. (So I did.)

And I felt really angry that I didn’t see the other driver and worried if she was okay and good that New Zealanders, on the whole, are so kind to stop and see if you need help. So I got my car parked on the side of the road, not even thinking to check the damage, but just make sure everyone was okay, which, thank God, everyone was.

The woman that hit me was really good about it. I told her I’d never had an accident in nearly 20 years driving (which is true) and that I had thought about accidents and careful driving that very night with the hoon passing me on the roundabout. She said she never had had one either and, strangely enough, she had been thinking about accidents as well before we crossed paths.

We exchanged details and that was that. As she said, no one was hurt; cars can be replaced. She thanked me for stopping — I was shocked that people didn’t always stop after an accident — and went on her way. I went on mine.

I got home and saw the damage and cried. My passenger door and the sliding van door were quite damaged. The passenger door itself was the worst damaged and bore the brunt of the collision, its top pulled away from the car frame (with a gap so wide I could fit my hand into it) and the side-intrusion beams apparent through panels bent around them.

Noel was very good about it and held me while I cried for about 20 minutes. I felt there was so much I could have done to avoided that accident.

I should have taken the way I normally go.

I should have been even more careful than I normally am.

I should have triple-checked to make sure no one was coming before pulling out.

I shouldn’t have rushed out of work.

I should have left at 3:30 when I planned to.

And I felt I betrayed my faithful, trusty car. No matter what I throw at it or how bad I abuse Warp 8, she keeps on delivering and chugs on regardless. Throwing this at her, a large gash running nearly her entire side was betrayal. She sat there on the driveway and looked so sad and so upset with me.

She’s in the panel beater now. The passenger door might need to be replaced. And I hope she comes back better than ever.

I just hope Warp 8 forgives me for treating her so bad!!!