It’s the 1st of August and it’s cloudy and rainy and cooooold. I don’t like it. It’s supposed to be warm during my birthday month! I’m a summer baby!
We don’t have central heating in our house (another thing Kiwis seem to think isn’t a necessity) and we don’t have a fireplace and running a space heater gets surprisingly expensive so when I’m at home I’m usually bundled up like a Russian peasant woman…that is if a Russian peasant woman had leopard-print slippers.
Since it’s cold out I have decided to go nowhere today. I’m going to make tortillas and scones and a couple of casseroles to put in the freezer for days I don’t feel like cooking. I’ve also got some beans boiling away on the stove so I can make a second attempt at cooking up my dad’s delicious refried beans.
My last attempt failed because I forgot the beans were cooking, took a long nap, and woke up to a house full of burnt-bean-smelling-smoke and a pot that had to be thrown away.
The whole house smells like boiling beans now, and not the burnt kind, which may still sound gross but is actually quite nice and makes me think of my pops.
This last weekend I drove a little over two hours down south to Te Awamutu (my longest drive yet!!) to hang out with Tom’s family. His sister and his mama recently moved into a house next door to his nana which is pretty convenient.
I went down there to give me something to do over the weekend and to take his sister her birthday present, Mortal Kombat for the Wii, which she loved…..I think. She’s a grown-up, but I’m a grown-up too and I was excited at the chance to be able to play it and I can only hope that her excitement was not a deception…
We drank whiskey and played games on the Wii. It was a nice relaxing weekend.
Except, that their house does not have insulation..something to do with terrible building codes in this country up until the year 2000.
I was lying in bed watching Sense8 on the tablet with Tom’s UAE Gym hoodie (it’s big and comfy and belongs to me now, but he doesn’t know it yet) tied up around my face and I could see my breath pluming out past the screen.
I fell asleep shivering with a heat pack wrapped around my poor little freezing toes.
On my way back to Auckland I saw signs pointing off the main road saying Meremere Village. I decided to go and check it out because I thought maybe it would be a beautiful, picturesque little village.
It was not.
It was very poor and simultaneously made me feel bad for all the people living there while feeling grateful for the life I have.
A lot of the houses were boarded up, and many that weren’t boarded up looked like they should have been. There was trash everywhere on the street and in the yards. Two houses had obviously fallen victim to a fire, the roofs were burnt almost completely away and charred, unusable furniture lay haphazardly out in the front yard. I could see a community center up a winding hill that looked as derelict as everything else, and I passed a superette (convenience store) with a bunch of people standing outside leaning against the wall smoking cigarettes.
The street was full of barefoot children running about playing. They were all screaming and looking happy, so life there can’t be all bad.
But geez, it was just such a sad looking place.
Before returning to the main road I took a turn up a rural dirt road and ended up driving past a field full of cows. If I’m driving alone in the car with no one to stop me and I’m on a low-traffic road, it is virtually impossible for me to not stop the car and moo at cows.
Sheep run away but cows come and check things out.
It makes me feel like I’m actually successfully speaking their language.
I sent Tom an audio message of me mooing at the cows and then told him, “I think it’s working!” but he told me they probably just thought I had food and no, they did not think I was a cow trapped in a car that they needed to come save.
My mom and I have been sending each other WhatsApp audio messages the whole time I’ve been writing this.
She just told me that right now in Texas it is too hot to go outside.
And she and my dad are eating fancy cheeses for dinner that they bought at Antonelli’s Cheese Shop which is one of my absolute favorite stores in all of Austin.
I’m so jealous.
I’m going to go stand in a hot shower now because I feel frostbite coming on.
Happy August, y’all.