The day I planned to stay at the Wicks I got a cash job in Rotorua. I gardened for a woman, Ingrid, who was slightly neurotic and, I think, romantically involved with her garden. The way she gently caressed the plants, the way she walked as if the leaves were applauding and she would swing her head round to acknowledge her appreciation. We would make eye contact, but her eyes only saw the flowers and the exotic plants. I weeded for five hours, with lunch and tea, and made 100 dollars. When I was finished she let me use her spa pool, which felt amazing. I soaked for less than an hour since I wanted to reach the Wicks before dinner.
I located the address and started on my way. Kathryn made a mention of living next to the James Cook School and after arriving to the correct address I did not see any schools. I plugged James Cook School into my phone and the bottom right of the screen read, 4 hours 30 min. WHAT!? How did I get so confused? I dialed the Wicks, and Wayne answered.
“So, funny thing. I looked up your address and it took me to a house in Rotorua.”
“Oh. Don’t tell me you’re in Rotorua.”
I decided to drive there that evening, since it was only 5 pm. All I wanted was a hot shower and dinner. I put my headphones in and jammed to my music, the four hours went by in a flash. Before I knew it I was in a small town that I didn’t know the name of, but I had a warm plate of food waiting for me, and Wayne had set the electric blanket.
Wayne loves any and all things science fiction and fantasy. There are two posters around the TV, “Doctor Who” and “Star Trek.” The bookshelf is lined with books about space and monsters. I informed him that I had read the Hitchhikers Guide series, including the final Eoin Colfer book. He was stunned. Then he proceeded to complain about America’s ability to ruin all things British, or just anything. This includes, but not limited to, the Hitchhikers movie (apparently Ford Prefect is not black in the book…), tea, football, rugby, using utensils (maybe that’s just me), gun control, salary of news anchors, etc. Let’s just say he has his opinions. Good thing I’m not one to argue generally. I would nod and smile. But the speed at which he spoke I think I’ve gained some new neck muscles. It’s like he couldn’t talk and think at the same time. Thank goodness he found Kathryn. They got married when she was 23 and had their first son when she was 24. He had known she was the woman ever since he was a teen. They grew up in Marton together, with their parents being close friends. They planned on having kids young so they could still be fairly young when their boys had grown. Wayne works at Mitre 10, a store similar to Home Depot, as a “checkout bitch.” And Kathryn is a teacher.
I spent three of the days weeding the front yard, but didn’t seem to make a dent. They only ask for four hours of work per day, and then I am free to do anything. I didn’t even have to help with dinner, even though I asked every night. Eventually I just started doing the dishes before Kathryn could get to them. I arrived on a Wednesday and on Saturday Wayne worked but Kathryn and I cleaned the kitchen. And I mean clean. We started with the ceiling, all the shelves and cupboards, walls, and floor. That night we had dinner with their best friends whom they have dinner with every Saturday night, even since their kids were young. Wayne and I shared a bottle of red while the women shared a bottle of white and we watched Coast, a really neat BBC show about different cities along the coast. This episode was about a tiny place in Scotland. I was very content, sitting by a warm fire playing with a 5-month-old Maltese puppy, hanging out with generous families. What can be better?
The next day, Sunday, they took me to Whanganui where we visited the shopping center and they did their walk around, got some soap, Enders Game and Catching Fire. Afterwards we visited Mitre 10 where they were looking for new drawer handles for the kitchen. They bought the house a few years ago and are in the process of remodeling most of the rooms. Inside Mitre 10 was a café that served coffee, baked goods and lunch! I told them there are no stores like Mitre 10, in America, which have legitimate cafes. Of course Wayne said something offhand about the States. Full and happy we went to SaveMart, similar to Value Village, and had a look around. I was looking for a jean jacket or something sort of stylish to wear when going out. Instead I found a sweet leather jacket. I’ve always been hesitant about leather jackets, never quite sure how to wear them. But man, I looked cool. And it was only 10 dollars!
On Monday, Kathryn had to work and Wayne had the day off, we got along well. I helped him mark places where he had to sand the ceiling, and then we painted on the undercoat. Well, I painted about a quarter of it and Wayne did the rest. I haven’t had much practice paining ceilings, which requires shoulder muscles and some skill. For lunch we went to a bakery and ate a delicious savory pie. I spent the rest of the day Skyping and writing, huddled under the electric blanket. I can’t seem to warm up in New Zealand!
The next few days I spent gardening and cleaning the house. It was very relaxing being alone inside a house. I realized how much I missed the concept of having a home, of having the basic amenities at your fingertips, of having a shower. But after watching the same shows every night and doing the same thing day after day, I became not just bored, but numb. Everything was too easy. I was never uncomfortable, fearful or anxious. I didn’t have to think, I barely had to exert physical energy. Although Kathryn and Wayne were beyond generous and kind, I don’t think I could have stayed longer than I did. BUT that’s not to say I won’t visit them again!