the old Wellington
I have no voice. Really. It’s quite funny. I reckon I could get by for ages without talking. People look at me with puppy eyes, which is amusing enough in itself, temporarily. My huskiness is much more endearing than Simon’s current lung-wrenching, gravel-toned cough, for example.
Crushed ice and wool-lined slippers help, but sleep doesn’t. This morning Bruce gave me some lozenges that singers use, but they tasted like something you’d stick in your car’s engine or baste your tyres with, so for now I have opted for silence.
I’m not a huge fan of internet malady-talkers. (e.g. the I’m so sick of being sick Facebook status update, usually from the same person every three weeks or so.) That’s not what I’m meaning to do here. My cute muteness is just an intro.
I’m not from Wellington originally. I came to Wellington full-time in — I think — July or August of 2000. So by my reckoning I’m coming up a decade in this fine town. I don’t mean that sarcastically, either. I really can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.
This evening as I attempted to compose my sickly self in a darkened steamy room, I had one of those flooring childhood flashbacks. My first memory of coming to Wellington as a kid.
I remember not being well. I think I must have had a chest infection. I remember everything having a funny smell, everything tasting strange and musty, but it must have been coming from inside me. I remember being sort of febrile and disoriented, intruiged in a fuzzy sort of way. I remember it being bone-bitingly cold as well, so I’m guessing it was winter.
We were staying with my aunt and my uncle and my cousins. The cousins were older. I actually don’t remember very much at all about the trip. It’s all a bit fish-eyed. I might have been four. Five maybe. I’ll consult with my mother about this tomorrow. (I thought it best to write this with the partial memory still unfettered, none of the gaps filled in.)
I remember things being goat-tracky, landscape-wise. Also the cousins had their own underground world. Subterranean cubbyhouses and secret clubs, that kind of thing, under the house. It was immensely impressive to someone of my inferior years. I think just being let in to their sunken den made me all at once forget my childish ailments. I didn’t want to blot my copybook. I remember being acutely aware of the extreme privilege that was being bestowed upon me by being brought into their fold. It sounds silly now.
In later years we used to drive through Wellington on university holidays on our way back home. Bex and I would make mix tapes and make our way up to Picton late at night, smoking with the VW/Fiat windows wound down. Wellington was a place of harbour lights and stopping by.
Sometimes I would stop over for a couple of days and crash with my Vic friends. 262 The Terrace. That was where Simon lived, way back before any of this. There was a hole in the bathroom floor people used to fall into. Takeaway food was the only way to ensure sanitary dining. It was vile and beautiful and chaotic and eye-opening. It felt like a halfway house or a commune. I can’t even really go into it here. I remember every inch of that place vividly. It’s one of those places you hope you’ll only encounter once. But then it’s also one of those places that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life knowing that you’ll never get any of that craziness back again. It’s a myth.
So I suppose tonight I thought about my mythical Wellington. Chapter One. The time before I came to dwell here. All brought on by a dose of laryngitis and a lukewarm bath. Funny how these dinky old recollections come about.
Filed under: memory, thinking | 2 Comments
Tags: diary, family, memory, New Zealand landscapes, Wellington