Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Hat Called Jayne

I am a soft soppy Englander. My clothing choices are as alien to the locals as wearing a coat would be to a Newcastle Lass out on the Saturday night pull. I wake in the morning and I can see my breath as I inch my nose out of the duvet. Central heating is an unheard of concept. It’s like camping in houses. I pull on enough layers to make me look and feel a few dress sizes bigger and go out for a jog to get the reluctant sludge in my veins circulating. People are running around in shorts (often flappy micro shorts circa 1990) and vests. They make them differently down here.

I sit on the beach watching the sun rise (jet lag is only just starting to abate and I am only just starting to wake later than 5.30am) and note it’s been a while since I have felt this present. The past has been wholly severed and the future, at least as I intended it, has also been cut from me so I am finding myself thoroughly in the here and now. This brings mixed emotions. My brain still wants to me to worry, fix and solve (never the sensible one I am juggling an Open University degree and with 2 assignments pending whilst here) but mostly because I can’t do anything about anything at the moment these worries are doing little more than lap at the edges of me.

And this has been a lesson in general for today.

I am staying with my old friends Karen and Kev in Nelson. I used to live with Karen donkeys years ago in a mad and dodgy house-share of the sort that you can only really tolerate if you are below 25. We never lost touch and after she got married last year she moved to NZ with her new hubby. They were applying for a 2 year work visa with an ultimate view at residency, but today the immigration issues hit the proverbial fan. Having spent the best part of a few grand complying with every bureaucratic demand (spend money on a medical for this, chest x-ray for that) and diligently ticking all the boxes they found out that Kev’s job is more than likely going to be taken off the wanted skills list due to the recession. A tad peeving considering it has been on there for 2 years. The light at the end of the tunnel may well be an immigration officer waving a torch around saying ‘you are outta here, hey.’ Hundreds of questions were released into the air and swarmed about our heads. Minnie, Karen and Kev’s dog sat unnaturally quietly with her head on her paws watching her fate unfold. This whole ‘what the hell do I do next with my life?’ thing seems to be contagious.

Hauling ourselves from the sofas we went to the market. Nelson’s market is a lot like London’s Camden – a sensory feast – with temptation running high at every corner. Brightly coloured, hand knitted, chunky jumpers and woollen blankies request your hands attention. Stacks of homemade peanut butter jars with tasting spoons moisten your taste buds. Freshly roasted cashews waft between the stalls mixing with the incense and syrupy sweet crepe stands. Red and white striped crockery in huge deep curved bowls beg to hold hearty soups for you. Jade maori talismans dangle in sunlight offering peaceful and prosperous blessings next to vicious looking hunting knives that line tables like a crime amnesty. I pick up an amethyst pendulum and it immediately responds to me and starts dowsing for my questions. Noting the circling stone the stallholder asks what I am asking about and I say I was asking about a guy. He asks me to dowse for him and asks when he will meet his soul mate. September ticks back and forward like crazy. Laughing he asks me to dowse for a discount and playing along I dowse (with much humour) for 50%. As haggling techniques go this is one of my best because he knocks 50% off the price and Karen buys me it for me. I guess the pendulum did tell her she would be very rich after all.

Feeling very much at home now I give in to the magnetic pull to one of the hat stalls. One of the hats felt like it literally had my name on it. ‘Oh that is so you,’ Karen said and as if to echo this the lady that made them asked my name. I told her and she replied ‘well it’s just that is part of a new range and is a new hat. No one has bought it yet so I am going to call this hat Jayne after you.’ I bounced away from the stall like a three year old girl who had discovered pink for the first time.

We leave the market and wander into a shop called ‘Possibilities’ - a self-named Now Age feast. I feel at home surrounded by books by Caroline Myss, Wayne Dyer and Osho amongst hundreds of others and reel off stories about every book, author and DVD Karen picks up. On the shop door is my favourite quote (Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson) but attributed to Nelson Mandela instead for some reason.

We close the day at a cafe with a veranda stretching over the bay. The rain clouds chase the sunset away and our own personal waters begin to surrender our realisations. Life for all of us is short. If their visas go, stuff it. They will go travelling and do all the things they have been putting off whilst they have spent a year living less than their best lives, denying themselves in pursuit of a goal. I too have spent months focusing religiously on something that didn’t work out. The scheme is always far greater than we can imagine so I am now wondering why even imagine it. Dream and move. Let go, let flow. And then just trust the rest. This, now, this is all we have. And it’s all we will ever have.

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