The Rhythm Of My Southbound TrainAuckland, Spring 2012
I like windows. Beyond your high school English teacher’s explanation that windows are a metaphor for the way we see the world, I just like the way they frame a really specific place. Most of my day is spent looking out windows: the bus window in the mornings and evenings as I go to University of Auckland; the windows in my lecture halls as I count down the minutes until I get to eat my Indian food in Albert Park with friends; the windows on the sixth (and top) floor of the General Library where I can see the whole city laid out in front of me, a city I’m learning to call home.
All this intensely reflective window-gazing has got me thinking about the meaning of home. What is home, really? Is it the four walls that we’ve lived in all our lives? Is it the country where we all speak the same languages and elect the same president? Or can it be more than one thing, our homes existing in different places with different people all over the globe? The more I’m in Auckland the more it feels like home, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss Rochester, New York anymore. It’s hard to imagine going back there and being the same person I was a month ago (I know! it’s only been a month), but in some ways I wish I could teleport my family here and share this experience with them. It’s tough being on my own so far from home, but I know it’s an essential part of learning how to be an adult. Ah, growing up! At once so complicated and so lovely.
There are things that I do here to alleviate my homesickness when it strikes (and it does, always unexpectedly). I will walk on Queen St., which is the main, busy, most city-esque street in Auckland, all the way down to the end to the ferry docks. It’s a fun walk: there are so many shops and people during the day to look at, and then the ferry station is always a-buzz with people coming and going. A little bit before the ferry docks is Britomart, which is the big public transportation hub. When I saw a rugby game a couple weeks back (rugby = football with cheerleader lifts and more intense tackling, if that’s even possible) we took a train from Britomart to the stadium. A girl in one of my classes trains two hours round trip every day to get to Uni, which is real dedication (especially for 8 AM lectures). The reason I do all of this is because it makes me feel connected to the city’s heartbeat in some way: seeing people get off buses, get on trains, traveling to families and homes in and out of the city. It reminds me that the city is always growing, always moving, even when I feel a little bit lost in the great wide world.
There are still things I’m learning (like “mean” = cool, for example), but more and more I feel like I belong in Auckland. It wasn’t just the rolling hills and the cute guys from Flight of the Conchords that called me here, it was something deeper, a yearning to know a different place in the world, and through that learn my place in all of it. I hope that through these entries you’re getting a glimpse into Auckland, at least the way I see it. I’m having a blast discovering what’s outside my window.
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