Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How a man called Chunk laughing with you makes it okay

I headed back to Auckland today to catch up with more people I have been linked with and also get some writing done, especially for my OU course (do not get me started on my useless communication phobic tutor). I am now in a lovely motel with an electric blanket, heater, sky movies, kitchenette, king size bed and a sauna. After hostels and an absence of heating in all the places I have stayed I have died and gone to travel heaven. My name is actually carved into the pavement outside my motel (not joking, it was a surprise). I keep experiencing odd feelings of de ja vu too. Little things seem to let you know you are going the right way.

The kind Taxi Driver

I was dropped here by the same taxi driver who picked me up when I left the Man. He came back at the end of his shift to bring me fruit, bread and milk for breakfast as a gift - at 11.30pm. He knocked and just handed it to me and turned and left. I remember my mum telling me something about not accepting sweets from strangers. I am wondering if bread, milk and fruit should be added to that list too or if people are just different down here.


Most Kiwis don’t pass up the chance to chat. As I sat and waited for my cab at the airport a man started to talk to me. His name was Chunk and being a child of the eighties ‘HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!’ burst into my mind. He looked like a cowboy complete with Stetson and cool bag. He leant forward, teasing a tiny roll up between dirty fingers that were as thick as butchers’ sausages and started to tell me about his life. I have one of those faces that says, ‘tell me your deepest stuff.’ His skin was heavily weathered with red veins coursing through his cheeks like a relief map. He looked like he was in his sixties and told me that he was a fisherman living 40 minutes from Napier. His eyes were the colour of NZ’s seas but clouded and milky. His partner of 13 years had just left him with no warning. Now he’s off on a cruise. He takes a deep drag on his tiny cigarette with a palpable sense of ease and relaxation. Feeling compelled to balance the sharing stakes I say ‘well I travelled 12,000 miles for someone just to have him change his mind 5 days in.’ His laugh is like a dirty tractor crawling over gravel. ‘Typical fucking Kiwi’ he says with evident pride. ‘He’s not a Kiwi’ I protest. ‘Same difference’ he says, ‘he’s converted now.’ Something about where that laugh came from made everything okay for a moment. He stood and shook my hand with the sincerity and grip of someone not afraid to engage either life or your soul. ‘Come and visit me in Hawkes Bay’ he said leaving and I knew he meant it.

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