Reminders of home

Strange how returning home from a trip – no matter its length, instantly makes the memory of it seem so distant. Almost as if it never happened. But, at the same time, you can hardly believe it’s over. And, I definitely don’t want to believe that this trip is over. I think that’s why it has taken me so long to write about my last day and a half in New Zealand. Well, that, and the jetlag.

It’s also tough to write about since it didn’t end with a boom or a splash. This post that will mark the end of the (somewhat) real-time updates will not be some kind of grand finale. It is more of a slow fade to black.

When I first arrived in Auckland, I was a bit underwhelmed, to be honest. Strangely, the city reminded me a lot of Toronto. From the skyline to the general mood in the streets to the traffic, it was a lot like home. And, it was not getting me excited. So, what would that mean for me? Would I not want to return to my own big city?

There was no creativity in me to see where I might want to explore. (Was this boredom?  or, exhaustion? Or, maybe it was a bit like that thing kids do when they don’t want a fun day to end… they just get pouty instead and miss out on any other fun things that might have happened next. Maybe I was in full pout.) So, I started the first day heading towards the harbour aiming to just wander around down there. But, I really wasn’t feeling it. The forecast called for sunshine but there were intermittent showers and grey clouds overhead. And, that definitely didn’t help.

I was struggling to take pictures and found myself moving very slowly. But, almost like a homework assignment, I kept shooting. And, soon, I started really liking what I saw.

After meandering through the streets for a while, I found myself in Albert Park ducking under a tree again to keep myself – and my camera – dry. This time, the showers lasted quite a while. I was stuck there. But, I did get some good people watching in as everyone scurried to find cover. Or, just rushed to get where they were going .

When it let up enough, I quickly made my way back to my hotel to grab my raincoat. When I headed back out, I decided to leave my camera behind and just explore the shops around the neighbourhood. But, as luck would have it, it stopped raining and buildings were glowing with the golden light of the setting sun. Of course they were. Because my camera was back in my hotel room. Oh well, it gave me a chance to see where I might want to go the next day.

In the morning, I headed out. This time, I turned right instead of left on Queen Street (the main drag) and strolled along Karangahape Road (K Road) and down Ponsonby Road. I never did hear any pronounce Ponsonby, so I was never really sure how to say it. But, by the end of the day, in my head, it sounded like pawn-zombie. And now, I can’t seem to think of it any other way. But, I digress…

These were two roads that ran through neighbourhoods that I would probably spend a lot of time in if I lived there. Cool cafes and stores with modern touches but with a bit of grit and maintaining the historic character of the older buildings; with some great people watching, of course.

And, yet more great street art.

I had started the day wondering if I’d be able to fill the hours before I left for the airport. And I ended it with rushing back to the car to make sure I wasn’t late.

Almost like a transitional stage, I ended my time in New Zealand in a place that seemed like home. Not because I had grown to feel at home there (like Wanaka, for example). But, someplace that had the structure of a familiar place. Like how we differentiate between the architecture of a house and the soul of a home. I definitely ended up enjoying my time in Auckland. But, it was no grand exit. It felt a bit like the trip was already over.

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