the outer limits of the everyday
Most days I don’t go far. I walk to work. It takes me about 15 minutes. I live in town and work in town. In a typical weekday I traverse an area that I would estimate to be approximately three or four square kilometres.
If I consider the usual outer limits of my wanderings and could drag a piece of string around their very furthest (farthest? shite) reaches, I think the string would take the shape of an isosceles triange.
Every week day for the past month, halfway to work, there has been this weird red clay sort of thing in the gutter as I cross the road under the motorway overpass. It looks like an aorta covered in ash. I make the same observation (that it looks like an aorta) every morning, at about 8.53. It’s like something off a smoking ad. I have no idea what it is actually.
Last night we went to an early play and beforehand we sat outside at the end of Courtenay Place, drinking and watching people return home from work.
I got pretty disoriented for a little bit; I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the cider. I kept thinking back to when I lived in Mt Vic and how I always hung out down that end of town.
I thought about my walk home from work, back in the days when I was young and temping (I nearly wrote young and tempting, but that wasn’t it) and had no Wellington friends. I thought about Hash, the Elizabeth Street dairy owner, and how once a week on my measly hourly rate I would buy the fattest book I could find (but not from Hash) in the hope it would last me a full week, until the next payday when I could buy another one. How when I got home from work I would find my unhinged flatmate cross-legged on the sitting room floor in some Salvation Army cocktail dress or another with mirrors and small powder-filled ziplock bags spread out around her. How she would talk about how she was going to New York next week, to meet with people, even though she was always so far in arrears with rent money that I was eventually incapable of covering it.
How I would shrug off her 5.46pm offers of getting fucked up, shut myself in my room, get out of my horrible awkward work clothes, get into bed (at around 5.49) and read until I was tired enough to sleep. Usually, when night came, I could hear people (I’d say 90% male) coming and going, and then most nights, a bit later on, the narrow old house would shake with nameless, amphetamised sex and I would try and mistake groaning for the sound of wind against the weatherboards.
It was a pretty dismal time of life, for more reasons than just my living situation.
It was especially dismal the morning I woke up to find my car, cell phone and cashflow card gone. It was a Saturday. All I wanted was a packet of cigarettes and the newspaper. It wasn’t like I had big plans.
(We had been friends – up until the point when she moved in and promptly capsized into a drug-exacerbated mania – the kind of friends who conveniently share pin numbers. When I realised that the banks were right about not disclosing those sorts of things it was too late. My already bony account had been stripped down to its final dollar for tiny dollops of coke and a fifty bag.) My car had been joy-rode and then impounded. She didn’t even have money left to unimpound it, because it had all been spent on blow. And I didn’t have any money, either, funnily enough.
My poor little Fiat. I can’t remember how I managed to pay for its safe return. Probably I had to wait until next payday and forgo my weekly book.
So that’s what I was thinking about yesterday, before the play. And thinking how the boundaries of our immediate, physical worlds are usually so small, and how we just accept that what we know and what we see around us is what the world looks like.
Sometimes I go up Cuba Street in the weekend and am shocked at the amount of colour the Bohemian folk are wearing up that end of town, how messed up their hair is, how slow they walk. Sometimes I wonder when I got so old.
I have my morning ritual so perfected I could do it by stop-watch with a variance of less than a minute. I’m so bound into my pint-sized stomping ground that I’ve memerised the heart-shaped detritus in the gutters. Tomorrow I am going to pick that aorta up and take it home with me.
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Tags: every day, rituals