Kia ora tātau!
Now we are in New Zealand. It's been very strange being here. I last visited the shakey isles in March 2002 and like the collection of copper coins on my shelf at home, I think I have left it too long.
[Aside, one of the more ridiculous things I have done since being in the UK has been to collect every single copper coin I have been given in change or have found on the side of the road. There is no a jar that weighs about 10kg on my shelf. I know not what to do with it. I should have stopped a very long time, but I didn't and now it's too late. I suspect a boozy smokey poker night might be the solution. Unless I win, in which case I will have only made the problem worse. End of aside.]
But the weirdness comes from not knowing how to relate to the people who I had left behind. It feels a slight presumptious to wander in and to expect people to welcome me back into their lives. In fact, to use a slightly intended pun, it feels a bit rich, this coming from a person who makes no secret that it is Oxford that is home for me now, and most likely will be for the forseeable future. And NZ doesn't feel like it is my home anymore. Usefully I have been staying with Craig and Sarah and baby Alice who have lived this experience so know what I am going through. I accept that I am still tired, despite sleeping a fair bit on the plane (I think I clocked up six hours sleep on the leg to Singapore - breaking my own record by about five hours), but there is a strong sense of numbness. From where I sit I am looking out over south Auckland, through a large Pohotukawa over Penrose to Mt Smart Stadium (or whatever it is called now) and then over to the Manukau harbour and it is surprisingly pretty(with respect to Penrose, there are much nicer suburbs in Auckland) but it feels like I am looking at a picture rather than a place. This visit is a only a trip so I know it is a temporary re-engagement. Please don't get me wrong, it has been great and a thing of beauty to begin to see my friends. But I miss my home. On Sunday I spent time at HTB with Jon March as he gave a sermon and then I watched the ducks in Hyde Park with Jane while eating a truly vile cheese and salad sandwich. The cheese was like that horrible smoked cheese we used to have in NZ. Then I got on a plane and went away.
Usefully Craig and Sarah have a one year old called Alice. Alice and I get on really well because I think it is easier to relate to one year olds than thirty one year olds. Especially when you are trying to come to grips with a different world. The lowest common denominator certainly appeals. As it happens today I am babysitting Alice while Sarah works. The wee girl is just waking up now and it is possible that for the first time in my life I am going to have wipe a bottom that belongs to someone else... Stand by the doors.... She's clean! (oh thank God.)
But tonight I am going to go out and play in Auckland. My friends Grant and Rebecca are in town from Dallas and together with Mr K we are going to go Belgian beer drinking (good to know some of the 'skills' I have acquired in Oxford are transferrable home). Then tomorrow I am going to see the folks in Wanganui.
There is this sneaking suspicion that by the time I finish up here I will have adapted and won't want to go back to unshakey isles...