As alluded to in my last post, I made it safely back to Christchurch! That is worth the exclamation point because wow, was Wellington intense (in a really good way).
My journey started early Friday morning when I woke, ate breakfast and got myself and my luggage into the car, only ten minutes late. I was feeling pretty good, because I had allowed myself an extra 15 minutes for the journey (I drive like a granny), and was confident that I would make it to the meeting place in time. And then I turned the key–and nothing happened.
Yeah, my first ever flat battery! Good job self. Fortunately, a very lovely neighbour jumpstarted me (at 5:40 AM), and also helped me back down very scary driveway. Without his help I would not have made my flight or the wedding. He also pointed out that I needed to top up my oil–something no one had told me about! Anyway, I drove the difficult hilly road like I have never driven it before, making it to the meeting place only ten minutes late. I met up with sister and brother-in-law and niece, and we made it to the airport with time to spare.
Of course, the adrenalin lasted until we were actually in the church, sister and myself acting as ushers, handing out programmes and seeing guests to their seats. I caught up with family I haven’t seen in forever, but it wasn’t until everyone was sitting down and we were waiting for the bride to arrive that it really sunk in that we’d made it and I could relax.
The church was beautiful. The bride was beautiful. The groom–I cannot believe that my little cousin got so grown up so suddenly! Everything was happy and awesome, and I could not be happier for anyone involved. There was just one thing.
I’m not much of a make-up person, but weddings are one of the few occasions I go all out and make the effort. I also cry at weddings. It’s clockwork. The doors open, the bride appears and–tears. I also cry at speeches, toasts, because people look happy, etc. Weddings are a tears-smorgasbord. Anyway, I decided that the issue was the make-up. I must just have really sensitive eyes, right? And the make-up sets me off. So, I skipped mascara for the last wedding I went to and still cried. This wedding, I brought make-up with me, but decided at the last minute that I didn’t want to spend the entire day dabbing at my eyes and skipped it. When the bells rang, and I turned to see the bride enter, it was with the confidence that for once, I would not be making a spectacle of myself.
Nope. Turns out I am just that sappy. The shame!
Still, not even the realisation that I am the relative that gets tearful at the drop of a hat could spoil the wedding, or the reception.
The highlight from a writer point of view occurred the morning after the wedding when fellow kiwi author Anne Barwell (of Winter Duet fame) took me to Gotham for brunch. We spent at least five hours talking comics, M/M romance, 2017 writing plans and we could have talked longer. To be fair, it has been sixteen years since we last caught up in person, and a lot has happened since then! But watch this space–Anne and I have plans.
In the afternoon, we met up again with the bride and groom for a family lunch, for us to spend some time catching up in a more relaxed setting. Time flew. It was a shock to find out we only had ten minutes before needing to leave to catch our flight. Sister and I ran around madly saying goodbye, brother-in-law had everything under control. We got to the airport in plenty of time, and back to Christchurch right on schedule.
In the two days I’ve been back since then, I’ve reunited with house-sit cat, dog and hens, caught up with an entirely different cousin and her family, and three friends from high school, one of which I had not seen since we graduated! Today, one of those friends and I explore central Christchurch. It was the first time she’d been there since the 2011 Earthquake, and seeing the city through her eyes really brought home how much we lost and how far we have yet to go. I struggled to remain upbeat, but after taking in some delicious gelato at the Rollicking Dessert Cafe, and heading to the Beat Street Cafe for lunch, I felt much more positive.
We ended up with a visit to the Christchurch Museum. One of my favourite things about the museum is how little it has changed. In 2003, I was taking groups of Japanese high school students to the Museum on group excursions–and the ground floor exhibits on the history of New Zealand have not changed one single bit. There were a few cool additions–the Paua House and the current Air New Zealand exhibition–but my favourite is still the recreated Victorian street and the costume gallery.
In conclusion: Wellington was incredibly awesome, and I need to go back for a proper explore. Friends are the best. Gelato makes everything better.